TODAY 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, this weekend and next weekend 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. Holtby studio painter Kate Pettitt, for example, is penning a daily blog at facebook.com/katepettittartist/. “Visit the YOS website and take your own virtual tour at yorkopenstudios.co.uk,” she advises.
Good advice! 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…
Harriet McKenzie, ceramics
HARRIET’S 2020 mission is to “examine drawing in the interface between the two- dimensional picture plane and the three-dimensional object”.
To do so, she creates ceramic Circles: enclosed forms, in black clay with engobe and sgraffito painting.
Her Circles reflect how relationships, interplay and suggestion are the bedrock of her art practice in her home studio. Harriet, or Hatti as she is known, is both an artist and a foster carer, a role that fundamentally informs her work as “a multifaceted influence revealed over time,” she says.
Harriet graduated with First Class honours from her Bradford School of Art fine art degree in 2007, first participating in York Open Studios in 2008 and she has since done so in 2009, 2011 and 2015 to 2018, when she was a bursary award winner.
Her formal art education had a gap of 20 years as, first, she took time out to travel and live in America, before making a home and raising her daughter in York.
“I found it impossible to do both art and earn a living as a single parent,” she says candidly. “With my art, I got so focused and involved with each project, my poor daughter suffered, but with age comes a better balance.
“Now, I only do work to show in galleries or Open Studios once a year, as this can fit round my sometimes challenging life as a foster carer.” Seek out Harriet’s work at hattimckenzie.com.
Harriette Rymer, painting
HARRIETTE creates abstract paintings, vibrant and playful in character, often featuring a geometric context, that she presents as original wall art panels, digital artworks and installations.
“By employing a range of mediums, I explore conflicting and harmonious relationships within colour and texture,” she says.
Harriette first studied art and design at Leeds College of Art in 2013, later taking a science degree in Newcastle. After graduating, Harriette returned to her artistic passion and now combines her love for precision with design in her paintings, screen-prints and cards (where she uses block-printing and stamping techniques).
Her fascination with colour manifests itself throughout her vivid work, curated under such collections as Confetti Collection, Hues, Colour Overlays, Milieu, Pattern Postcards and Expanse.
“I want the viewer to make personal connections with each composition, just as I have, whether it’s a reminder of a place they know well or a visualisation of a memory, thought or feeling,” says Harriette, who uses acrylic, gouache, watercolours and pastels.
This year she has exhibited in the York Printmakers show at Pairings wine bar, Castlegate, York, and in A First Glimpse at the Inspired By…Gallery, Danby, and she would have done so too at this month’s cancelled British Craft Trade Fair, Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate.
Take a look at harrietterymer.com.
Steve Williams, painting
STEVE’S strikingly vibrant and original paintings in acrylics are inspired mainly by North Yorkshire’s landscapes and coastline.
“I’m an instinctive painter,” he says. “My pictures take form through the process of painting, not through adherence to a fully formulated plan. Exploring my emotive response to my subject matter, I allow my paintings to develop as a result of my mood or subconscious mindset. They stem from an original idea, image or situation and then come together of their own accord.”
Using acrylics, palette knives and brushes, Steve seeks to infuse his pictures with fluidity, energy, colour and texture. “My aim is to achieve a balance, a cohesion, harmony and completeness, in all of my pictures,” he says.
“I work spontaneously to convey my emotional energy into a painting. I believe this is the only way to ensure authenticity.”
Steve exhibits regularly with contemporary galleries throughout Yorkshire, in London and further afield. Commissions are welcomed via stevewilliamsart.moonfruit.com.
Sam Jones, jewellery
SAM is self-taught in the art of lampworking, otherwise known as glass-bead making.
She works with various materials, such as glass rods, clear resin and metals, making her own glass beads and combining these with silver, copper and semi-precious stones in her jewellery since 2006.
She graduated with a degree in jewellery from Sheffield Hallam University in 2000 and works within the creative industries as a scenic painter. “I’m drawn to colour, pattern and texture,” she says. “I enjoy experimenting with processes and like working with various materials as I find each has its own qualities.
“My inspiration comes from nature’s wonders, from the nebulas within our galaxies, to the weird and wonderful inhabitants of our oceans.”
Should the non-scientific among you be wondering, a nebula is a giant interstellar cloud of dust, hydrogen, helium and other ionised gases.
Some nebulae (the Latin plural) come from the gas and dust thrown out by the explosion of a dying star, such as a supernova. Other nebulae are “star nurseries”: regions where new stars are beginning to form. Science home-schooling lesson of the day, at your service.
Discover more at samjonesjewellery.com.
Gerard Hobson, printmaking
GERARD has had a love of birds, animals and art since childhood, a wildlife bent that saw him qualify as a zoologist from Bangor University and work for Wiltshire Wildlife Trust as a botanist and illustrator.
On relocating to the north, he worked for Yorkshire Wildlife while continuing to develop his own work on a freelance basis, turning his hand to woodcarving and studying print-making in York.
Gerard now works from his garden studio in Clifton, producing limited-edition hand-coloured linocut prints of birds and animals, much of his work being inspired while out walking his dog on the Clifton Ings.
His repertoire has expanded to take in cushions and lampshades, mugs and chopping boards, produced in tandem with Georgia Wilkinson Designs, and cut-outs of birds, animals, fish and mushrooms.
Gerard branched out still further earlier this year for his Winter Wildlife In Print show at the National Trust property of Beningbrough Hall, Beningbrough, near York, where he combined multiple prints in the Hayloft gallery with 14 sculptural scenes/installations in the outbuildings, gardens, grounds and parkland, inspired by creatures that make Beningbrough their winter home.
“I hope my art may stir people to become more interested in the wildlife around them, to feed the birds and join their local wildlife trust,” he says. “To share this with their children and their children’s children, and hopefully generations of young people will become more interested in the birds and woodlands around them. Maybe some will go on to be environmental campaigners – who knows!”
More info at gerardhobson.com.
TOMORROW: Lesley Birch; Frances G Brock; Maria Keki; Beccy Ridsdel and Dawn Ridsdel.