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 Studios, 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…
Philip Magson, ceramics
AFTER taking a degree in 3-D design at Loughborough College of Art, Philip began making and selling terracotta garden pottery.
On moving to York, he developed the production of colourfully decorated domestic earthenware at his workshop on Micklegate.
Alongside teaching art, his skill on the wheel is now employed in exploring an interest in contemporary ceramics. His influences range from the abstract work of Franz Kline and Peter Voulkos to the simplicity of classic Japanese pottery.
His pots are hand thrown on the wheel, using a stoneware clay. Mostly domestic-ware, simple and modern in style with contrasting surfaces, they are finished in white opaque glaze. Take a look at philipmagson.co.uk.
Becki Harper, illustration
BECKI’S illustrations are inspired by behaviours and narratives within nature, alongside botanical forms and patterns, with an exploration into the appreciation and sustainability of the natural world.
“My observational drawing is often the source of an idea, character or composition, and they greatly inform the visual language within my work,” she says.
Becki loves nostalgic colour palettes and vintage graphics, especially the imagery featured on old dress patterns.
“I favour traditional techniques such as watercolour painting, which is the process used to add colour to my drawings. This passion for creating things by hand has led to exploration into other media such as textiles, craft and ceramics,” she says.
“Sometimes I work by myself, and at times I work with other artists and community groups on all kinds of projects and commissions.” More info at beckiharper.com.
Sophie Keen, illustration
SOPHIE is an established children’s book illustrator of 15 years’ standing, with a bold yet traditional style that utilises watercolour, concentrated watercolour ink, fine-liner and pencil.
Since graduating from Liverpool John Moores University in 2003, she has been represented by The Organisation agency, her work being published in such titles as: The Selkie Child (Oxford University Press); My First Bible for Marks and Spencer; My Favourite Michael (Little Tiger Press) and The Christmas Wish, The Lonely Chick and The Best Dog In The World (Scholastic).
Last year, under the name Sophie Humphreys, she provided the illustrations for Carolyn Robertson’s Two Dads, read as a CBeebies bedtime story by pop singer and musical actor Will Young as part of LGBTQ History Week.
“Inspiration for my work has become much easier since having children myself, although time and energy has become ‘strangely’ hard to come by,” she says. “But I’m never short of ideas, even if they have to be written in haste on the back of a shopping list at 2am.”
Sophie, who also makes murals and bespoke pieces for bedrooms and nurseries, would have been taking part in York Open Studios for the first time. Discover more at sophiekeenillustration.com.
Charmian Ottaway, jewellery
CHARMIAN has been a jeweller and goldsmith for more than 25 years, working mostly to corporate and private commission, although her work in high-carat gold, platinum, pearls and silver can be found in selected galleries and exhibitions too.
A love of ancient Greek and Roman history and the natural world is reflected in her designs.
“I am passionate about sourcing beautiful semi-precious and precious stones and incorporating them into my pieces, and I’m committed to using fairly traded and mined metals and certified stones,” says Charmian, who favours classical techniques, having discovered her love of fine jewellery while working for Cartier.
Her most prestigious commission to date is a replica Richard III Boar Brooch for the Yorkshire Museum in York, where she also has done pieces for the Jorvik Viking Centre and York Archaeological Trust. Among her private clients is “York’s very own” Dame Judi Dench. Learn more at charmianottaway.co.uk.
Lesley Williams, painting
LESLEY produces semi-abstract oil paintings based on aspects of the landscape, gardens and ponds, where the translucent colour and shades move around one another creating a visual magic.
“My works based on ponds show an interest in spatial dynamics, as well as the reflective qualities of water within the plant forms,” she says.
“They suggest the feeling found in the moment. They show intrigue in what lies beyond the immediate surface and in spaces around a subject.”
Born in York, Lesley gained a degree in textile design at Nottingham Trent University and later an MA in fine art from Leeds Metropolitan University.
More details can be found at lesleywilliamsartist.co.uk, where her work is divided into Pond Reflections (new work for 2020); New Work; Water Gardens; Pools: Ponds; Waterlilies and Garden Borders.
K. Eliza, multi-media
STUDENT K. Eliza is an ambitious and multi-sensory artist, influenced by how “aesthetics interact with the natural world and emotions”.
Her present work focuses on rebirth, protection, death and life cycles and she delights in expressing herself in different media, whether wearable sculpture, digital print making, drawing or photography.
“I use tights, wire and plastic, moulding them into depth and form to represent the obscure and body parts,” she says. “I want to provoke responses from audiences, intrigued by the potential of material and the impression they leave on us.”
K. Eliza, who would have been participating in York Open Studios for the first time. Her contact details are firstname.lastname@example.org.
TOMORROW: Monica Marshall, Richard Barnes, Emily Harper-Gustafson, Freya Horsley, Benn Jackson and Jelena Lunge.