LAST weekend should have been spent visiting other people’s homes, not staying home. This 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 for #openwindowsyork2020, while plenty are 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…
Sarah Raphael-Balme, painting
SARAH makes figurative work spanning interiors, gardens, portraits and decorative motifs usually involving figures or creatures, painted mainly in oil, sometimes in gouache.
A graduate of Chelsea College of Art, Sarah has shown her work widely in the UK and USA. Her illustrations are published by IPC magazines, BBC publications, Heinneman and countless others.
She is exhibiting solo with House of Hackney concurrently in New York and London. Go to instagram.com/raphael_balme for more.
Lesley Seeger, painting
INSPIRED by the natural world, Lesley paints landscapes and abstract florals, her lyrical work marked by an exploration of the emotional impact of colour.
“Although all my work begins ‘in the field’ with observation, ‘painting what I see’, I realise that it quickly becomes, ‘how what I see makes me feel’. How trees and hills and furrow sit together in the language of light and dark,” she says.
“I’m interested in the significance of place. This might be somewhere well known, such as Ripon Cathedral or the White Horse at Kilburn, or a random field or view in which the way things are placed in the landscape makes it out of the ordinary.”
Lesley is a self-taught artist, whose work over 23 years now has been inspired by sculpture studies at York College, as much as by the art of Gillian Ayres, Howard Hodgkin, Elizabeth Blackadder, Mary Fedden and Ivon Hitchens.
“At a certain point, the painting takes over and I become interested in pattern, mark making, colour and texture as vehicles of expanding what I see,” she says. “The work becomes intuitive…. a hybrid between the observed and imagined, the seen and felt.’
Born in Newcastle in 1958,Lesley studied English and Media at Southampton University, then worked in theatre and publishing and qualified as an art therapist at Sheffield Hallam University. She worked for several years in community arts in York, most notably a six-year residency at York Hospital, where she ran art projects in the renal unit.
Last year she was artist-in-residence at the Yorkshire Arboretum, near Castle Howard; this year, she holds the same post at Brisons Veor, Cape Cornwall.
Lesley, who runs painting workshops, published the art book Coming Home, A Contemporary Colourist’s Approach To English Landscape in late-2016, and also designs cards and linen cushions. Upcoming shows pencilled in for 2020 are Art for Youth North and Art& York, both in October.
“I like to think of my paintings as talismans,” she says. “They will reveal themselves over time with their rich histories of place, layers and colour.” Time to visit lesleyseeger.com.
Evie Leach, jewellery
EVIE decided to follow her creative passion by studying jewellery and silversmithing at the Birmingham School of Jewellery.
There, her basic knowledge, learned from her jeweller parents, transformed into traditional skills.
Her trademark is angular designs with inspiration taken from geometry found in nature and architecture, while more recent designs include semi-precious gemstones set beside angled clusters of gold and silver to create dynamic, one-of-a-kind pieces.
Not only would PICA Studios jeweller Evie have been taking part in York Open Studios, but also her husband, self-taught artist Mick Leach, would have been making his YOS debut. Cast an eye over her designs at evieleach.co.uk.
Ric Liptrot, illustration
FREELANCE illustrator Ric captures everyday life in York, depicting its distinctive and much-loved sites in acrylics, pencils, collage and mono-print.
“I’m inspired by the architecture and scenes of York,” says the PICA Studios artist. “I combine my passion for these buildings with my support for the independent businesses York has to offer.
“I’m an ambassador for these shops, bars and cafés and believe they’re important in helping communities grow.”
Take a look at Ric’s illustrations that “capture the places loved by the local community” at liptrotillustration.co.uk.
Katrina Mansfield, painting
KATRINA creates vivid, fascinating “fluid art animal inks”, using alcohol ink on synthetic Yupo paper to depict the animals, birds and insects.
The paper allows a longer working time with the ink, “the most intriguing medium and at the same time the most frustrating”.
“It can produce magical results that you get lost in for hours and hours, but it can also destroy the most striking pattern in the blink of an eye,” says Katrina. “It is exactly like nature itself, devastatingly beautiful.”
In turn, this is why she chose the subject of animals. “The creatures of this Earth are both fragile and unbreakable, they are flawless and yet also imperfect. They add colour to our human lives, yet they are increasingly in danger of becoming extinct through our actions. This series of works is a reminder to all that we need the diversity, beauty and intelligence of these creatures in order to survive.”
Now a PICA Studios artist, Katrina trained in fine art and scenic art at York College, Lincoln University and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. She worked in television, film and theatre for a decade, latterly in the West End and West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, before returning to York in 2018 to focus on developing her new process of fluid art animal inks.
“The paintings take anything from one to four weeks to finish and are principally made without the use of a paintbrush,” she says. “I only use a brush if I have no other option or to place the white in the eyes; everything else is formed from the natural flow of the ink.” Animal ink magic awaits at katrinamansfieldartist.co.uk.
Kitty Pennybacker, textiles
KNITWEAR designer Kitty combines cording, knitting, weaving and felting to create a textile collection of super-soft homeware items, such as wall hangings, neckerchiefs, baby blankets and knee throws.
“The work re-imagines the tartan and tweed fabrics of my childhood in North Yorkshire,” says Kitty, who gained an MA in Fashion Design and Society from Parsons School of Design, New York, after her BA in Fashion Textiles Design at the University of Brighton.
She has worked within the fields of fashion and television in New York and London and is now part of the PICA Studios art and design hub. Learn more at kittypennybacker.com.
TOMORROW: Mim Robson, Lesley Shaw, Elena Skoreyko Wagner, Ealish Wilson and Greg Winrow.