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, a handful of 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 lockdown 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 yorkopenstudios.co.uk 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 six more artists and makers for you to discover…
Chiu-i Wu, ceramics
CHIU-I’S functional and sculptural gas-fired stoneware pieces are all individual and hand-built, with no moulds being used.
“I hope always to never take myself too seriously, but to just have a simple honesty with my ceramics,” she says.
“When I was little, it was with pen and paper that I felt expressive: drawing and drawing without thought. The feeling never left me, and I graduated to paint, then finally to ceramics.”
Chiu-i developed her art and ceramics in her home country of Taiwan, exhibiting her first work in Taipei. “I loved it, but always had a hard time when asked about my work,” she says. “I have no deep meanings. Not ones that I recognise anyway. I just produce from my heart, sensing when what I’m creating begins to feel right.”
She studied hard to be able to create the feeling she wanted in clay and glaze. “When I moved to England in 2003, I brought many glaze recipes, but soon discovered a new range of English clays to explore. I can feel my love of English summers, blackbirds and sheep touching my heart and influencing my work,” says Chiu-i, who now exhibits in both Britain and Taiwan.
As well as York Open Studios, Chiu-I’s 2020 diary includes Potfest at Scone Palace, Perth, and Earth And Fire, at Welbeck, Nottinghamshire, both In June; Potfest In The Park, Penrith, in July, and Art In Clay, Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, in August. Find out more at chiuiwu.co.uk.
Amy Butcher, textiles
FOR Amy’s applique-based hand embroidery, a collage of intricately cut fabric shapes create a foundation. This is then stitched and embellished to create illustrative pieces rooted in nature and animals.
“My love of art and textiles started at school and has been a passion ever since,” says the largely self-taught Amy, from Stillington. “The support and inspiration from an embroidery class enabled me to continue to develop my work and confidence, and in 2014 I was fortunate to get the opportunity to work with the greetings card company Bug Art.”
She now works on developing her own range of greetings cards, prints, cushion panels, coasters and embroidery stitch kits, printed from her original textile art for Beaks & Bobbins.
This would have been her debut year of exhibiting at York Open Studios. More info at beaksandbobbies.com.
Carol Coleman, textiles
CAROL uses dissolving fabric and a wide range of found, manipulated, painted or dyed ingredients with any creative technique she can master to produce wall-hung, 3D and wearable art.
Frequently she uses digital photography with image manipulation to create working designs.
A lifetime of creativity, followed by specialising in free-machine embroidery, led to Carol being invited to teach and talk about her work to organised groups.
She became a professional textile artist in 2003 and in 2015 was presented with the gold award for textiles by Craft & Design magazine. As well as exhibiting locally, nationally and internationally, she writes. Oh, and she designed the Dire Wolf Crest for the Hardhome Embroidery for HBO’s Game Of Thrones.
Next up in her diary is Art In The Pen, in Thirsk, on July 18 and 19, “currently still going ahead”. Check firstname.lastname@example.org for an update.
Jo Ruth, painting
JO specialises in intricate stencils cut from original drawings layered with painted surfaces. She sprays and sponges her imagery, reinterpreting the relationship between the natural and the urban world.
Jo trained in fine art at the University of Reading, followed by post-graduate studies at Birmingham City University, and then developed her creative, illustration and design practices alongside her extensive lecturing and teaching career in London and the Midlands.
“Fascinated by wildlife but a lifelong city dweller, I’m inspired by elements of both worlds: chance encounters with the birds we see sharing our urban lives and those in more rural settings,” she says.
“The majority of my imagery is based on our native and visiting birds, those we see in and around our homes and gardens, but I use techniques such as stencilling and digital technologies more associated with urban life.”
As a painter-printmaker, Jo’s work is experimental in its creative process, employing a variety of media to explore qualities of mark-making, texture and colour. “I draw inspiration from the linear qualities of Chinese brush painting, calligraphy and the colours and patterns of my local environment,” she says.
Her website, joruth.com, divides her work into Urban, park and garden; Hedgerows and woods; Wetland, lake and sea and Works on brown paper. Her first major solo show was at the Scottish Ornithologists Club in Aberlady, Scotland, and she exhibits regularly at the International Bird Fair in Rutland.
Luisa Holden, paintings
LUISA favours expressive and atmospheric landscapes and seascapes, woodland and contemporary still life in her artwork, painting in mixed media and acrylics in a painterly yet sensitive semi-abstract style.
“I enjoy capturing light and atmosphere, simplifying forms and reducing areas of a picture to blocks of light,” she says. The North York Moors, the Dales and the Yorkshire coastline are prominent in her paintings, “but I also enjoy abstracted, edgy still lifes, often incorporating a window backdrop and geometric forms,” she adds.
Luisa, who is of British-Italian roots, grew up in North Wales and studied fine art at the North Wales Institute of Fine Art but she has since spent most of her adult life in Yorkshire.
She has exhibited throughout Yorkshire, such as the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull; the Great North Art Show at Ripon Cathedral and a solo show at the Helmsley Arts Centre, as well as at the Mall Galleries in London with the Society of Women Artists.
Luisa is a member of Leeds Fine Artists and her work can be found at the Blossom Street Gallery, York; The Blake Gallery, Haxby; The Leaping Hare Art Gallery, Easingwold, and the Look Gallery, Helmsley.
“I like the challenge of intuitive creativity: taking risks, de-constructing and re-constructing to simply allow a painting to evolve,” she says. “I consider the creative process to be a journey of self-discovery, learning to be spontaneous, free and not fearing ‘messing up’.” Discover the results at luisaholdenart.co.uk.
Anna-Marie Magson, ceramics
ANNA-MARIE’S simple, contemporary ceramic vessels are hand built using stoneware slabs and decorated with layers of coloured slips.
“The flattened surfaces of the vessels provide a canvas on which to work,” she says, “I create fine detail by revealing shapes, lines and marks through wax resist and sgraffito. I use a muted palette of soft-hued colours to evoke a sun-bleached effect and a satin glaze to give a tactile, silky finish.”
Originally, Anna-Marie studied fine art painting at Liverpool College of Art, but when the opportunity to work in a pottery studio arose, she began to explore her love of surface decoration and textured pattern on clay tiles. Ultimately, this led to adapting her ideas to hand-built ceramic vessels.
“I find both the process of creating an object and applying my designs most satisfying,” she says. “I find inspiration in the world around me, such as ancient structures, their weathered surface and the evidence of human mark-making.”
Anna-Marie’s stoneware ceramics can be found at The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle, Number Four Gallery, St Abbs, Scotland, and Leeds Craft Centre and Design Gallery. More immediately, cast an eye over annamariemagson.co.uk.
TOMORROW: Philip Magson; Becki Harper; Sophie Keen; Charmian Ottaway; Lesley Williams and K. Eliza.