Who are the 30 new artists and makers in York Open Studios? Meet the next six here

A painting by Carol Douglas, to be found at 55 Albemarle Road, York

YORK Open Studios returns to its traditional spring slot for the next two weekends after last year’s temporary Covid-enforced detour to July.

More than 150 artists and makers will be showing and selling their work within their homes and workspaces, giving visitors an opportunity to view and buy “bespoke pieces to suit every budget”, from 10am to 5pm on April 2,3, 9 and 10, preceded by a 6pm to 9pm preview on April 1. 

As ever, the range of artists’ work encompasses painting and print, illustration, drawing and mixed media, ceramics, glass and sculpture, jewellery, textiles, photography and installation art. Check out the artists’ directory listings at yorkopenstudios.co.uk to find out who is participating and who will be opening up early for the preview.

CharlesHutchPress will highlight the 30 newcomers in a week-long preview, in map order, that continues today with Carol Douglas, Anthea Peters, Derek Gauld, Phil Bixby, Jacqueline Warrington and Richard Frost.

Carol Douglas at work in her studio

Carol Douglas, painting, 55 Albemarle Road, York

CAROL paints primarily in acrylic on canvas, adding oil pastel and fabric collage to some works. Her box canvasses are mostly unframed.

Carol completed her full-time foundation diploma in art and design in 2018, realising an ambition held since she was 16. Now, at 70, she has exhibited at Partisan café, in Micklegate, and According To McGee, in Tower Street, York, and Dean Clough Art Gallery, in Halifax, and is promoted by Broth Art, an on-line London gallery.

Jewellery designer Anthea Peters

Anthea Peters, jewellery, 6 Middlethorpe Drive, Dringhouses, York

ANTHEA creates wearable pieces of jewellery in silver and gold, complemented with copper accents, gemstones and enamel.

Her jewellery is inspired by the wild and unspoilt locations she frequents in her ‘day job’ as a chartered dam engineer in rugged, remote locations. Closer to home, she finds happiness in her garden and on moorland adventures with her family; exploring and studying flora and fauna for her jewellery designs. Consequently, silver toadstools adorn those designs, along with snails, flowers and ‘found’ objects.

“I’ve been making jewellery with precious metals for nearly 20 years and have made special commissions for friends and family over the years, including wedding rings; Christening bracelets; baby teething rings and for special birthdays,” says Anthea. “All my work is very personal and crafted with love, with the design developed specifically for that individual.”

Landscape printmaker Derek Gauld

Derek Gauld, landscape printmaking, 8 Middlethorpe Drive, York

DEREK creates printmaking works, both large and small, from mostly landscape sketching and painting outdoors in Yorkshire, the Lake District and Cornwall.

His distinctive style is developed from sketches, working on marks and tones through etching and printmaking techniques such as sugarlift, soft ground, aquatint and relief in the studio.

“I like the loose feel of sugarlift to begin prints,” he says. “I generally use soft ground etching for initial mark making and then build up tones from light grey to black through a process of aquatinting, which involves stopping out areas of the image and dropping into safe acid, leaving longer to create darker tones.

“I like the loose feel of sugarlift to begin prints,” says Derek Gauld

“I will pull a black-and-white print after three, four or five tone checks and sometimes add accented colour to the print plate to give another impression. Colour will be added individually to each print, and prints are limited to 25.”

Derek studied printmaking at evening class for three years and has exhibited at Pyramid Gallery and Blossom Street Gallery, in York, and Scarborough Art Gallery. He is a member of York Printmakers – whose membership now runs to 40 – and West Yorkshire Print Workshop.

Phil Bixby: Architect and photographer

Phil Bixby, photography, 24 Hob Moor Terrace, York

PHIL makes black-and-white photographs, shot on 35mm film, that he develops and scans to produce high-quality inkjet prints that explore texture and lighting.

Architect Phil rediscovered film photography after a lengthy absence.  “Black-and-white photography works with the same elements of light on form but allows a level of abstraction that buildings do not,” he says.

“Being reunited with tools from the late-20th century and learning again the varied characters of different films has given me scope to explore, experiment and enjoy.”

A rural scene by Phil Bixby

Believing “we need to plan for future change”, building designer Phil runs My York Central with Helen Graham, having started working together as My Future York, and since early summer 2017 they have been coordinating the My Castle Gateway project.

As an architect, he has worked on community self-build, masterplanning and community decision-making in York and elsewhere, while spending time aplenty watching and learning about York from the saddle of a bicycle.

“To watch a piece develop as the form and shape changes during the making process is both fascinating and exciting,” says Jacqueline Warrington

Jacqueline Warrington, jewellery, 3 White House Rise, York

JACQUELINE makes precious metal jewels and silver vessels, employing traditional techniques such as raising, chasing, repousse and forging. She makes silver icons too, exploring her interest in folklore and the saints.

Jacqueline trained with a renowned jewellery designer from the age of 16, then studied silversmithing and jewellery at Bradford and Sheffield art schools. She has been working at the bench since setting up her business in 1984, designing and making her own range of jewellery and exhibiting widely across the country.

“Using the qualities of the metals and stones in their various forms makes designing each piece a challenge,” says Jacqueline. “To watch a piece develop as the form and shape changes during the making process is both fascinating and exciting.”

In 2004, she set up a teaching school that ran successfully for 16 years but now she has decided to concentrate on her own work.

Richard Frost: From civil engineer to furniture maker

Richard Frost, furniture, 36 White House Gardens, York

AFTER a 27-year career as a civil engineer, Richard took a leap of faith and changed vocation to follow his passion for all things wood.

Re-training as a cabinet designer/maker at Waters & Acland Furniture School in Cumbria, he combines the problem-solving techniques of an engineer with the creative skills of an artist to design and make furniture and decorative items.

Setting up Richard Frost Design in January 2019, he has not looked back since, producing bespoke and limited-edition handcrafted furniture, household goods and gifts, often incorporating patterns, achieved through manipulation of contrasting woods and veneers.

“With no single definitive style, I take my inspiration from both the natural world and our industrial heritage,” says Richard. “My portfolio includes pieces with a traditional feel and those with more of a contemporary look. At all times my objective is to produce an exquisite piece of furniture.”

In focus tomorrow: Toni Mayner, jewellery; Kimbal Bumstead, painting; Duncan Lomax, photography; Moira Craig, printmaking; Jo Rodwell, mixed media, and John Hollington, wood.

‘Plates of pears or simple pots of flowers elevated into iconic emblematic art? We had to give Carol Douglas a ring for that…’

York artist Carol Douglas, left, with According To McGee gallery co-director Ails McGee

CAROL Douglas: Hygge and Expressionism part two launches at York gallery According To McGee on Saturday at 12 noon.

Greg and Ails McGee continue their commitment to contemporary painting with the latest collection by the York artist, who last exhibited at the Tower Street art space between lockdowns last year.

“We love Carol’s art,” says gallery co-director Ails. “We showcased her 2020 collection in the autumn and we weren’t surprised at how well they connected. The paintings focus in on the simplest, most humble items of homelife and reassemble them as iconic compositions.

“It’s her style, and you can tell who it is from across the room, which is a litmus test of success in itself.”

Carol’s Hygge and Expressionism part one brought the gallery a new type of discerning client when holding court at According To McGee, notes co-director Greg.

“When a gallery has to constantly rely on a static cohort of collectors to keep the commercial side of things going, that gallery is in trouble,” he says. “We have for 17 years made the point that if you want contemporary cityscapes, we have them. Semi-abstract seascapes? We have them too.

“Plates of pears or simple pots of flowers elevated into iconic emblematic art? We had to give Carol Douglas a ring for that! And she does it with such control, such a mischievous vision, that her work reminds me of William Carlos Williams’s poem This Is Just To Say.

“Those cold plums on the plate were more than just plums! So there’s the heft of something simple beautifully depicted that seems to connect to a whole new type of client that we’re really grateful for.” 

Digital artist Nick Walters orchestrating the Hope nocturnal digital display at According To McGee in York

Carol Douglas’s exhibition follows Hope, the three-week nocturnal digital display of artwork by children from all over the world, a project spearheaded by Denmark’s Viborg and guided to York by Chris Edwards, chair of REACH and the York Cultural Education Partnership, and Chris Bailey, clerk of the York Guild of Media Arts.

“If the intention was to remind a slowly returning cultural sector that According To McGee was alive and kicking, it certainly worked,” says Greg. “The response has been humbling. We’ve had families from participating York schools attending, and teenagers we’ve worked with through our charitable arm, New Visuality, sending me photos of the illuminated projections of their artwork.

“It’s been great and just underlines how innovative displays with digital artists Nick Walters and Pritpal Rehal can complement the more traditional thrills of coming to see a beautifully curated exhibition of beautifully composed paintings.” 

Now the focus turns to Carol Douglas’s paintings, with the McGees settling on maintaining the title Carol Douglas: Hygge and Expressionism from last year’s campaign. “Honestly, the title says it all, and the nature of the work has not shifted at all since last year,” says Ails.

“The ‘hygge’ is there to suggest the reassuringly domestic nature of the subject matter, and the ‘expressionism’ highlights just how much of the success is down to Carol’s wholly idiosyncratic insistence on depicting simple things with such iconic power. She is a joy to work with and is a real boost to York’s cultural community.”

Carol, 2018 winner of the Adult & Access Award for Art & Design Lifelong Student of the Year, says: “I hope that people who see my work find it both visually exciting and somewhat amusing. The domestic has always been my focus and speaks of my personality and history.”

Carol’s artworks can be viewed at According To McGee every Saturday, 12 noon to 4pm, or by appointment on 07973 653702 on weekdays. Alternatively, they can be discovered online at accordingtomcgee.com/collections/carol-douglas.

All are welcome at Saturday’s midday launch, Covid compliance allowing.

Mischievous Carol Douglas’s “visually exciting and somewhat amusing” new works go on show at According To McGee

York artist Carol Douglas at work in her studio

YORK artist Carol Douglas is the latest addition to According To McGee’s year-long celebration of contemporary painting to mark the Tower Street gallery’s 16th birthday in York.

“Actually, we were supposed to be holding events and happenings with performance artists, lasers, illuminations and installations, but Covid came and kicked that into the long grass,” says gallery co-director Greg McGee.

“And we’re glad it did, in a sense. It forced us to re-address ourselves as a gallery and distil what we do best into something unique, which is exhibit painting as though it was the edgiest, most crucial artform on the scene – which it is, by the way.”

Greg’s garrulousness has been vindicated by an autumn spike in sales of paintings by artists such as wife and co-director Ails McGee and Newcastle’s Beth Ross.

“What Carol’s art has that sets it apart is a steely dedication to noticing the domestic and elevating it into the sublime,” says According To McGee co-director Ails McGee

“The time for making contemporary painting the gallery’s priority seems to be now, and it is with this in mind that we approached Carol Douglas,” says Ails.

“We love Carol’s art, which dovetails very neatly with the rest of the current exhibition: in essence an evolving version of the summer show, with painting leading the way.

“What Carol’s art has that sets it apart, however, is a steely dedication to noticing the domestic and elevating it into the sublime. So, we have a bowl of fruit composed as it if it were weightless, or a chair rendered as if lit from within with flat, languid light, like a flag. All the time there is experimentation and mischief, made obvious by sudden placements of colour and playful lines.”

Carol Douglas: Hygge and Expressionism, an exclusive collection of paintings for According To McGee, launches today (Saturday, October 17) and marks a first for the McGees.

“Carol Douglas’s paintings have that crucial human warmth that, even via minimal expressionism, good art reminds us that things aren’t so bad,” says Greg McGee

“It is the first time that we will be simultaneously inaugurating an exhibition both physically and online via the gallery’s social media,” says Greg. “The nature of the opening matters less than the nature of the paintings, though.

“People have been obliged to stay at home and contemplate their homes. Interior-design decisions have been increasingly important for Brits for the past 20 years, and I should know: I was a judge on the BBC’s Best House In Town.

“The Danish concept of ‘hygge’ is attractive and simple. It means maximum cosiness with minimalist clutter. It’s a nice way to live. Carol’s art seems to compound that, with its wet pebble palette and gentle compositions.”

Greg adds: “It’s especially powerful because it’s so idiosyncratic. You can walk in a room and even if you don’t know the artist, you see the painting and go, ‘ah yes, there’s that painter whose Still Lifes are so crisp and exact’.

“I hope that people who see my work find it both visually exciting and somewhat amusing,” says Carol Douglas

“They have that crucial human warmth that, even via minimal expressionism, good art reminds us that things aren’t so bad. There’s a glow in life that even 2020 can’t extinguish.” 

Summing up her latest paintings, Carol says: “I hope that people who see my work find it both visually exciting and somewhat amusing. The domestic has always been my focus and speaks of my personality and history.”

Hygge and Expressionism will run at According To McGee, Tower Street, York, from today until October 26. The gallery is open every Saturday or by appointment on weekdays via accordingtomcgee.com/pages/contact or on 01904 671709 or 07973 653702. Alternatively, view online at: accordingtomcgee.com/collections/carol-douglas

Did you know?

Carol Douglas won the Adult & Access Award for Art & Design Lifelong Student of the Year in 2018.