YORK Open Studios 2020, the chance to meet 144 artists at 100 locations over two April weekends, 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.
Angela Anning, textiles
ANGELA makes one-off wearable art – scarves, shawls and jewellery – using fine silks, cottons and wools.
She also creates highly textured wall art, applying wet felting techniques to bond and sculpt natural materials, sometimes overlaid with hand or machine stitching. She designs lampshades too, decorated with fabric paint and machine embroidery.
“The theme is treasures in nature,” says Angela, whose textile art is inspired by sketches and photographs of landscapes and natural objects she experiences. “My work is always influenced by the qualities and characteristics of natural materials as I work with them.”
For Angela, textile art is a second career, after a degree in fine art and English and years as an educator, researcher, academic and writer, working mainly in Manchester and Leeds.
“But I sustained a passion for and active interest in textiles and fashion alongside my professional life,” she says. Fifteen years of developing work in fine and decorative arts has ensued. Take a look at anningtextiles.com.
Pamela Thorby, ceramics
PAMELA left behind a distinguished career in music as a recorder virtuoso and academic to pursue a new path in fine art.
Her stoneware-fired porcelain sculptural vessels are “imagined but reminiscent of a multiplicity of organic forms”: whether interstellar, fossil, micro-organism or coral.
“I aspire to make work light enough to be hung in the air; strong enough to be placed piece inside piece, creating new possibilities of form and meaning,” says Pamela. “My aim is to translate the dynamism and sensitivity of my former career as a musician into a ‘visual music’ in clay.”
She was “so excited” to have been selected for her first participation in York Open Studios. “This was another one of the goals that I set myself and here we are, in my second year as a ceramicist, and I’m working towards a major body of work for this fantastic event in April,” she said at the time.
In her esteemed career in music, Pamela was professor of recorder at the Royal Academy of Music in London until 2019; the regular recorder player for Welsh composer Sir Karl Jenkins’s projects and a member of such groups as La Serenissima, New London Consort and Palladian Ensemble with Baroque violinist Rachel Podger.
In May 2007, she performed a radical fusion of jazz and folk music with Perfect Houseplants at the National Centre for Early Music in York, an innovative experience she described memorably as: “I’m a bit like a gherkin on a salad plate: I’m adding piquancy to the mix.”
To discover more, go to pamelathorby.com.
Andrian Melka, sculpture
ANDRIAN began studying art and sculpture at the age of ten, graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Tirana, Albania, in 1994.
He moved to England in 1997 with a Getty scholarship and spent a year at the Building Crafts College in London, where he was awarded the City & Guilds Silver Medal for Excellence and granted the Freedom of Carpenters’ Company and the Freedom of the City of London.
He headed to York to work as head sculptor with the renowned carver Dick Reid on high-profile commissions such as the Jubilee Fountain on Sandringham Estate to commemorate HM The Queen’s Golden Jubilee and figures of Christ and Madonna for St Mungo’s Church in Glasgow.
Since opening his own studio near York in 2003, he has taken on commissions from Lord Rothschild, HRH The Prince of Wales, Lord Conrad Black and the Earl of Halifax.
His work in bronze, marble and stone ranges
from figurative sculptures and portraits to abstractions based on the human
Attention to detail and the right finish are important to Andrian, who approaches his work differently from most other studios, working directly in stone without the need for full-size models in the same way Michelangelo would have done. See the results at melkasculpture.com.
Isabel K-J Denyer, ceramics
ISABEL loves to know that her oven-proof stoneware and porcelain pottery will be used on an everyday basis, for all occasions and celebrations, as she aims to make the presentation of food “sing”.
“It gives me great pleasure to think that they are part of people’s daily lives as they serve and enjoy food in different ways, from a family meal to special occasions,” she says. “This, for me, makes the process complete and creates a mutual message between me, the maker, and the user and is the essence of my working life.”
Isabel’s stoneware and porcelain pots are thrown on an electric wheel and are reduction-fired in a gas kiln. “Form and function are absolutely integral to the work and my objective is to make pots to be used, handled, cherished and cooked in,” she says.
The making of pots gives Isabel a sense of peace. “I’m attracted to the forms made by the Etruscans, Koreans and the early Bronze Age Cycladic period and these are the pots I mostly draw in museums,” she says.
“For my own work, I prefer to work shapes out by making them first, helped along by exploratory drawings at a later stage and then allowing them to evolve and change over the years. This makes for a constant voyage of excitement and discovery.”
Isabel trained in the 1960s on the Harrow Studio Pottery course, later potting in the United States and Jamaica. Since moving to Yorkshire in the early 1980s, she has been a member of the Northern Potters Association, serving on the committee for nine years and as chair, and she is a member of the Craft Potters Association too. Learn more at isabeldenyer.co.uk.
Pennie Lordan, painter of landscapes
PENNIE’S oil paintings explore the stark contrast and parallels that exist between loss and hope, sensitivity and brutality, isolation and connectedness through the theme of Edgelands.
“My paintings are developed from studies that come directly from location sketches, often on pre-prepared grounds that reference a sense of composition and atmosphere,” she says.
“These studies then develop into oil paintings, built on varied prepared grounds and developed through the process of multiple thin layers of oil paint and cold wax, often applied, wiped back and re-applied.”
Her work is both on linen, incorporating subtle stitching, and on disregarded found materials, such as pitched pine, board or aluminium.
Londoner Pennie runs two creative businesses in York with her husband, arriving here with a background in animation, art and education. Recently she completed three years of studying landscape painting at Leith School of Art in Edinburgh. 2020 would have been her first year in York Open Studios. More details: pennielordan.com.
TOMORROW: Ben Arnup; Jo Bagshaw; Francesca King; Simon Palmour and Elena Panina.