YORK Open Studios 2020, the chance to meet 144 artists at 100 locations over two April weekends, should have started with a preview evening tomorrow, but the annual showcase has been cancelled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, with doors sadly shut for the April 17 to 19 and April 25 to 26 event, CharlesHutchPress wants to champion the creativity of York’s artists and makers, who would have been showcasing their ceramics, collage, digital, illustration, jewellery, mixed media, painting, print, photography, sculpture and textiles skills.
Each day, in brochure order, five artists who now miss out on the exposure of Open Studios will be given a pen portrait on these pages, because so much art and craft will have been created for the event and still needs a new home. Addresses will not be included at this time.
Meanwhile, York Open Studios artists are finding their own way to respond to the shutdown by filling their windows with their work instead. Look for #openwindowsyork2020 to locate them. “If you see one in your area while taking your daily exercise, take a picture and let us know,” they say.
Sharon McDonagh, painting
SHARON is drawn to painting the “darker side” of York, in particular to its derelict buildings, against the backdrop of her high-profile past career as a police forensic artist.
That work required her to draw dead bodies, creating artist’s impressions of unidentified fatalities from mortuary photographs and crime-scene information, and you can make the psychologist’s leap between death and decay if that is your Freudian wont.
“It might seem mad going from being a forensic artist depicting bodies to doing paintings of decay, but I suppose it’s all an organic path of death and destruction,” she says of her detailed, intriguing work, marked by unconventional themes and, in particular, a love of architecture, York’s forgotten buildings and items left behind.
Earlier this year, she exhibited her new Fragments series in the Urban Decay exhibition at Blossom Street Gallery, and works on that theme would have featured in her second York Open Studios show too.
“Fragments is an exploration into the fragility of life,” Sharon says. “The vintage light switches and sockets symbolise the person, while their last moments and memories are represented by the fragments of wallpaper and tiles. The last glimpses of life, the last remaining fragments before they die.
“I thought of light switches and sockets, because of the act of switching on and off lights and then life finally being switched off.” Discover more at sharonmcdonagh-artist.co.uk.
Jane Dignum, printmaking
JANE creates colourful linocut prints and also makes collages out of pieces of her prints, her subject matter spanning wildlife, the Yorkshire coast and the city of York.
“I like experimenting with different techniques of printmaking and enjoy the sometimes surprising results that occur,” she says.
Jane studied fine art at Leeds College of Art, where she started to investigate printing. She always carries a sketchbook and camera and creates designs from photographs that she has taken. Take a look at janedignum.com.
Carolyn Coles, painting
PAINTING impressionistic seascapes and landscapes, Carolyn’s use of palette gives her work identity and life. She paints mostly on bespoke, stretched canvasses in oils and acrylics, applied with palette knives and flat brushes.
“I like to capture atmosphere, usually with a leaning towards dark and moody and generally on a larger scale,” she says.
Carolyn’s formal artistic education began with studying art and design at York College, then specialising in illustration at Hereford College of Art and Design, earning distinctions in the early 1990s.
After a career taking in marketing art materials and graphic design and illustration in journalism, Carolyn now devotes her time to painting, exhibiting and selling work both on the home market in York, London, Derby, Manchester and Leeds and internationally too.
Carolyn’s love of the seaside and nature in general is reflected in her new collection. “The impressionistic style allows the viewer to interpret their own story and pull their own memories back into play,” she says.
“I’m interested in re-creating a feeling, an essence. I love being by the sea or in the hills. It’s a tonic. The noise, everything, just soaks into me. I like to be playful, bold and subtle in my work.”
A regular participant in the annual Staithes Art and Heritage Festival, she also exhibits at various galleries in York. More details at carolyncoles.co.uk.
Adele Karmazyn, digital prints
ADELE’S mostly self-taught process involves scanning 19th century photographs, textures and her own paintings to create digital photomontage artwork, often with a hand-finished element using inks, oil paint and gold leaf.
Her love of antiques and oddities, old doors and weathered surfaces are the foundations of her work. Bringing people from the past back to full colour and intertwining them with creatures big and small, coupled with delicate foliage, she creates images both sophisticated and playful. Often she uses idioms, metaphors and musical lyrics for inspiration and to add narrative.
Adele studied for a textile art degree at Winchester School of Art, worked briefly for an interior magazine in London and then set out to see the world. Many years later, she settled in York and returned to her first calling, completing a diploma in children’s book illustration in 2015, gaining a distinction.
It was then that she then turned to using her camera and photoshop, but still picking up her paintbrushes regularly and drawing on most days too. “Creating textures, drawing animals and getting the composition on paper is where each image begins,” says Adele.
More info can be found at adelekarmazyn.com.
Nathan Combes, photography
NATHAN photographs urban landscapes, working primarily in black and white as he captures the sense of isolation and decaying beauty found in the places that he visits.
“I use a variety of modern digital and vintage film cameras to photograph places, locations and objects that are often overlooked and deemed unworthy of attention,” he says.
Inspired by photographers such as Robert Frank, Chris Killip and William Eggleston, his work is thought provoking, challenging and humorous.
His York Open Studios debut would have featured work from his most recent project, focusing on the North East. He can be contacted via email@example.com.
Tomorrow: Lu Mason; Nick Kobyluch; Michelle Hughes; Lucy McElroy and Ian Cameron.