No York Open Studios next weekend, but all that art still needs a new home, so look here…DAY 22

Maria Keki: Applying veils of colour in her paintings

LAST weekend should have been spent visiting other people’s homes, not staying home. Next weekend too.

This is not a cabin-fevered call for a foolhardy Trumpian dropping of the guard on Covid-19, but a forlorn wish that York Open Studios 2020 could have been just that: York Open Studios. Instead, they will be York Shut Studios.

Nevertheless, in the absence of the opportunity to meet 144 artists at 100 locations, banished by the  Coronavirus lockdown, CharlesHutchPress is determinedly championing 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 are being 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. Home and studio 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.

Furthermore, look out for plenty of the 144 artists still showcasing their work over the York Open Studios period online. Visit to take your own virtual tour.

The website says: “We’re doing a Virtual Open Studio, with artists posting based on a daily theme for the ten days spanning our two weekends. They’ll be showing you their studios and workshops, favourite processes, answering your questions, and of course lots of pictures of their new work!

“Search for #YorkOpenStudios anywhere on social media or follow your favourite artists to see more.”

First, however, here are five more artists and makers for you to discover…

Lesley Birch at work on one of her paintings

Lesley Birch, mixed media

BORN in Glasgow, former Hue & Cry musician Lesley’s Scottish roots feed into her love of wild and remote places and in turn into heartfelt paintings notable for their sense of colour and composition.

“I’m interested in expressing my personal response to time and place,” says Lesley, whose work ranges from large, atmospheric landscapes to small/medium works on paper and boards in oils, pigments and acrylics from her travels to Italy, Spain and Scotland.

Earlier this year, Lesley launched her Marks & Moments show at Partisan, the boho restaurant, café and arts space in Micklegate, York, where she filled two floors with more than 50 paintings from her Musical Abstract Collection.

Little Pink Shore, by Lesley Birch

Lesley has just completed 21 Days In Isolation, a one-off project in Covid-19 lockdown offering paintings at exceptionally low prices. “Will there be more paintings? Yes. Though not on a daily basis. My 21 days are over,” she says.

Why did she undertake such a “mammoth task”? “Because we are in difficult times at the moment and everyone should have a chance to buy original art,” she says. “I’ve really enjoyed painting in the alla prima style and plan to create a new collection.”    

Coming next will be her Romantic Landscapes series. Meanwhile, after the cancellation of York Open Studios 2020, Lesley is putting a selection of her YOS pieces online at at £200 each, framed and ready to hang.

Frances Brock: Expressive portraits and landscape paintings

Frances Brock, painting

FRANCES paints both expressive portraits in mixed water-media and landscape paintings in water-media and oils.

By training and profession a music teacher, Frances has a second string to her bow as an artist, and this month she would have been taking part in her fifth successive York Open Studios.

A portrait by Frances Brock

Her work shows a broad artistic vocabulary and can be seen at the Dee Alexander Gallery in Epping and Silo Art Gallery in Cawood. In particular, she receives many commissions for her domestic animal paintings.

She has tutored courses at Old Sleningford Hall, North Stainley, near Ripon, for the past two years and leads workshops by request. Learn more at

Maria Keki with two of her artworks

Maria Keki, painting

AFTER fine art studies in Manchester and post-graduate study at the University of Leeds, Maria enjoyed a fulfilling career as a teacher of art, craft, and design, alongside creating her own work.

She continues to be passionate about working with young people through the arts. 

In her paintings, remembered and imagined places are evoked through veils of colour. Such works have been exhibited at York Open Studios in previous years and in other local shows too, as well being sold privately. More info at

Ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel

Beccy Ridsdel, ceramics

BECCY completed her BA in contemporary 3D crafts at the University of York in 2008, achieving first class honours.

Since then, she has taught ceramics and kiln-formed glass at York College, as well as making sculptural, hand-built, stoneware ceramics from her workshop in York.

A stoneware ceramic by Beccy Ridsdel

In addition to exhibiting in York, Hull, Thirsk, Sheffield and Sleaford, Beccy has shown work at the Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York and the Houston Centre for Contemporary Crafts in Texas. Her ceramics have featured in magazines and art journals too.

She took part in York Open Studios from 2013 to 2018 and would have resumed her involvement in 2020. More details at

Dawn Ridsdel: Maker of cheerful, colourful ceramics

Dawn Ridsdel, ceramics

DAWN creates colourful and cheerful ceramics to enhance and brighten the home, applying a sculptural aesthetic while exploring surface and form in her use of layers of slips, underglazes, lustres and glaze.

She went back to college in her thirties to study craft and has been working in arts education as a technician ever since, 23 years now, at York College, where she also teaches ceramics.

“I was very happy helping others, but I decided I needed to take a different direction and took a further course of study, which has given me new confidence,” says Dawn. “After a lot of hard work, I was awarded a first class honours degree in contemporary craft from York St John University in July 2017.”

“I’m fascinated by colour and the way it can affect us and how we perceive it, ” says Dawn Ridsdel of her ceramics

Based in a garden studio on the outskirts of York, Dawn specialises in hand-building techniques to make vessel and cloud forms and develop the clay surface to hint at open spaces, skies, seas, stars and planets. “I’m very moved by the decline in natural habitats and species and believe that we must do more to celebrate and protect our wildlife,” she says.

“I’m also fascinated by colour and the way it can affect us and how we perceive it, so my work also uses contrasting colours which, when brought together, can enhance each other and cause them to vibrate. In this way I hope to bring life and vitality to my work.”

Dawn has exhibited at Art& York at York Racecourse, Sunny Bank Mills Gallery, Farsley, and various galleries in Yorkshire. Seek out her work at

TOMORROW: Chiu-i Wu; Amy Butcher; Carol Coleman; Jo Ruth, Luisa Holden and Anna-Marie Magson.