AFTER the Covid-enforced fallow year of 2020, York Open Studios returns next weekend for its 20th showcase of the city’s creative talent
Preceded by next Friday’s preview evening, the event will see 145 artists and makers open 95 studios, homes and workplaces on July 10 and 11 and July 17 and 18, from 10am to 5pm.
Among them will be 43 debutants, prompting CharlesHutchPress to highlight six newcomers a day over the week ahead, in map guide order, as York prepares for a showcase of ceramic, collage, digital art, illustration, jewellery, mixed media, painting, print, photography, furniture, sculpture and textiles skills this month.
Rosebay, vibrant micro-landscapes in acrylic, 25, Turners Croft, Heslington
ROSEBAY uses the quick, direct method of marker pens filled with acrylic to produce big, bold canvases, drawing on elements of pop art, graffiti art and cartography to celebrate the hidden, unsung corners of the natural world.
Rosebay started painting in 2009, inspired by the Sydney coastline in Australia. Informed by her background in biology, her work incorporated abstracted natural forms, from forest canopies to tiny sea creatures.
After an exhibition in Sydney, her return to the UK brought a fresh palette of increasingly vibrant colours and a move to tightly focused micro-landscapes.
The shoreline remains a huge inspiration and, appropriately, she has exhibited in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, and Saltburn-by-the-Sea.
“Working from a mixture of memory and photographs, I focus on one small area – a limpet-covered rock, the trunk of a tree – and this becomes my micro-landscape with its own topography,” says Rosebay.
“Features within it are stylised to varying degrees, sometimes to the point where they appear completely abstract. Simple forms, such as the white circles representing barnacles, are often repeated many times.”
Her paintings sometimes resemble maps. “Those water channels or rock striations can look like roads, patches of seaweed like green parks in a city. It adds to the feeling of a landscape where observers can lose themselves,” she reasons.
“I like to exaggerate and intensify colours: as well as making everything more vivid, it takes my work a further step away from ‘reality’, which I like. Each block of colour is delineated by a border of dark violet, which is the shade I associate with deepest shadow.”
Elena Skoreyko Wagner, collage illustration, The Drey Studio, 16a Heslington Road, York
CANADIAN illustrator Elena creates bright, intricate hand-cut paper collages, re-using paper snippets imbued with their own histories to assemble poetic images that illustrate intimate narratives and emotional experiences.
Elena completed a degree in studio art at York University, Toronto, in 2006, and then spent a decade winding her way through odd jobs, a Masters in occupational therapy, interrupted briefly by a surprise baby, followed immediately by a hop across the Atlantic to Bonn, Germany, then York, en route to illustration.
“Some former professors asked me to illustrate a paediatric assessment and suddenly, everything made sense,” she says. “I now work as a freelance illustrator and maker of zines and collages. My work is often autobiographical, depicting women and children to explore personal and social issues and uncover wonder and magic in the ordinary.”
Elena, settled into York with her German economist husband, Achim, and their two children, sells original artworks, prints and zines through Elena’s Treehouse. “I can be found most days nestled in a nook, manifesting a rainbow tornado of paper snippets, or making equally impressive messes with my small protégés,” she says.
On May 17 and 18, she took part in York Theatre Royal’s reopening brace of Love Bites performances, collaborating with composer and singer James Cave and writer Bethan Ellis on the five-minute musical theatre piece Magic, inspired by a lockdown poem by Elena, who made a miniature paper theatre that re-created her allotment and was operated by her on stage.
Elena “seeks to find magic and uncover meaning in the mundane”. “York is a beautiful city, which in many ways makes it easier to find magic,” she says. “There are snickelways that look straight out of Tolkien, and crumbling walls, climbing with vines, straight from The Secret Garden!”
Emma Crockatt, painting, The Drey Studio, 16a Heslington Road, York
INSPIRED by nature, patterns and objects, Emma moves between painting, collage and drawing and now she is exploring textiles and print too.
Emma moved to London in 2006 to study History of Art at Goldsmiths, progressing to an MA in Illustration at Camberwell College of Art.
In 2017, she returned to York, where she makes works full of brightly coloured animals, flowers and seasons, taking pleasure in her everyday surroundings.
Kitty Greenbrown and Peter Roman, multi-media, Arts Barge, Foss Basin, York. July 17 and 18 only
SPOKEN-WORD poet Kitty (or Katie) Greenbrown and artist Peter Roman collaborate to deliver multi-media storytelling pieces, such as Magpie Bridge for Stockton Arc, marking the 50th anniversary of the Moon landings, and Green In Our Memory for City of York Council’s First World War commemorations.
Rust was premiered on the River Ouse at the 2019 Great Yorkshire Fringe, when presented in collaboration with York Theatre Royal and Arts Barge. Proving Rust never sleeps, it returns on the second weekend of York Open Studios for screenings 10.30am, 1pm and 3pm.
“Rust takes us back to when the Ouse teemed with working barges, you knew your place or else and jazz was the devil itself,” says Kitty, who introduces herself as a “performance poet with an incurable appetite for playing with language”.
“I have a huge interest in creating multi-media, immersive storytelling experiences that stretch the bounds of what poetry can be. I’ve been performing live and making film-poems with musicians, artists and filmmakers since 2016. Collaboration is big part of what interests me.”
Kitty adds: “For me, it’s always been about telling stories. I went on a camping holiday to Brittany when I was about eight and it tipped it down with rain. Every day.
“There were loads of bitey insects and the toothpaste tasted weird. My mum burnt a hole in the roof of the tent too, with the camping stove. On the first night.
“I lay on a camp bed, which was standing in a couple of inches of water, and copied out every word of a Famous Five book into a jotter with squared paper. You’ll find the jotters always have squared paper in France. Then I got bored and started writing my own stuff. I’ve never really stopped.”
For Love Bites at York Theatre Royal in May, Kitty combined with fellow artist-producers Robert Powell and Ben Pugh to present The Angels Of Lendal Bridge.
Carrie Lyall, printmaking, 2a, Riccall Grange, King Rudding Lane, Riccall
SELF-TAUGHT printmaker Carrie runs the Rose & Hen business, selling her linocut prints, illustrations and handmade books inspired by nature. Using botanical themes, she creates delicate silhouettes and patterns in contrasting colours, employing pigment-rich, oil-based inks.
“I connect with nature while out walking, taking photographs or collecting subject matter, to be sketched and transformed into design ideas at home,” she says.
“My favourite part of the process is cutting the designs, and I often get completely immersed in creating marks and lines.”
Carrie is a member of York Printmakers and a volunteer team leader for Etsy Team York (roseandhen.etsy.com). She will be demonstrating her printmaking skills at 11am and 3pm each day over the two weekends.
Kevin McNulty, neo-expressive mono prints smeared with social commentary, spray paint and oil stick, 39 Maple Avenue, Bishopthorpe, York
KEVIN describes himself as a compulsive printmaker, who explores themes such as identity and the human condition in his bold limited-edition prints.
“Experimenting with process and technique, I interweave modernity with the absurd to build complex and captivating designs,” he says. “I find inspiration in the everyday. I build layers for my prints using anything I can lay my hands on, including found items.” Even mobile phone parts and discarded teabags.
Influenced by Neo-Expressionism, Surrealism, Einstein and his grandad’s Bedford Rascal van, he mixes stencilled layers, automatic mark making and spontaneous hand-drawn images in his creativity.
Kevin’s working practice is underpinned by a desire to make “pure prints by pulling each image by hand and embracing the fortuitous accidents that evolve each design as it transitions from laptop to ink and paper”.
“Using both images and words, I speak through robotic figures and grotesque forms to communicate provocative messages,” he says of his explorations of social and political issues through the eyes of a six-year-old boy.
“Supported by a graphic primitivism, I present unfiltered ideas and emotion by blending naïve child-like expression with a mature consciousness to tackle contemporary issues and to gain a better understanding of the world.” Find his work at kevinmcnultyprints.com.
Tomorrow: Pennie Lordan; Lincoln Lighfoot; Amy Stubbs; Jilly Lovett; Elliot Harrison and Nicola Lee.