PICA artists launch £25-a-pop postcards to raise funds for York studio improvements

A sneak preview of artists’ postcards for sale at PICA Studios on Saturday and Sunday

AFTER ceramics, jewellery, paintings, collage, films and textiles, now the artists at PICA Studios are branching out into one-off postcards for one weekend only.

More than 20 creatives share the workshop space, in Grape Lane, York, that is rarely open to the public, except for the annual York Open Studios.

However, on Saturday and Sunday, from 10am to 4pm, PICA Studios will play host to a special Postcard Show and Sale of original artworks made by studio members.

Jewellery designer Evie Leach experimenting and exploring her practice with a print/collage postcard series created for this weekend’s show and sale

PICA artist Lesley Birch says: “I successfully launched a postcard project during lockdown and so we’ve decided to follow that format this weekend. A postcard is small, affordable and original, and as we only have a small space to display them, we felt this would work well for our first collaborative show in the foyer outside of York Open Studios.”

Each postcard will sell for £25 to raise funds towards improving the studio space and to create a gallery in the foyer at PICA, where the studios opened in February 2017. 

For jewellery designer Evie Leach, the postcard project has helped push her creative practice.  “It’s taken me in other directions to make a series of artworks on paper inspired by my jewellery designs. This is what a studio is all about: inspiring and innovating members to go beyond their comfort zone.”

Emily Stubbs curating the Postcard Show at PICA with hammer, drill and hands

Fellow founding member Emily Stubbs says: “This is the first time we have collaborated with so many of us producing work just for the studio. It’s a bonding experience and we’re looking forward to it very much.” 

Joining Lesley, Evie and Emily in the postcard show will be Katrina Mansfield, Ealish Wilson, Sarah Jackson, Ric Liptrot, Jo Edmonds, Lisa Power, Amy Stubbs, Mick Leach, Rae George, Lesley Shaw Lu Mason and Kitty Pennybacker, with more still to come.

Spring Garden, by Lesley Birch, one of the postcards for sale for £25 at PICA Studios

The £25 postcards can bought in person at PICA or online through Instagram, where “you can spot the one you want” at instagram@picastudios.

One final thought: in an age when a postcard dropping through the door is increasingly rare, how does such an occurrence make Lesley Birch feel? “Receiving a postcard is absolutely lovely,” she says. “All the smudges from the postmark, the date and the handwriting make it a piece of history. It’s the good old days of snail mail.”

Now comes a repurposing of a postcard with the stamp of art to each one.

Textile postcards by PICA Studios artist Ealish Wilson

More Things To Do in and around York and while stuck with “staying home”. Lockdown List No. 25, courtesy of The Press, York

Flood, mixed-media monotype, by Lesley Birch, from Muted Worlds, her joint exhibition with ceramicist Emily Stubbs, running initially online and then at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York

LOCKDOWN 3 plods on with no end in sight deep amid the winter chill, drawing Charles Hutchinson’s gaze to online events, a writing opportunity and the promise of live entertainment somewhere down the line.

Online lockdown exhibition at the double: Emily Stubbs and Lesley Birch, Muted Worlds, for Pyramid Gallery, York

CERAMICIST Emily Stubbs and artist Lesley Birch have teamed up for Muted Worlds, a lockdown exhibition of pots and paintings that has begun as a digital show from their studios before moving to Terry Bretts’s gallery in Stonegate, once Lockdown 3 strictures are eased. 

Ceramicist Emily Stubbs: Muted Worlds exhibitor and York Open Studios participant

“This is a show with a more muted edge,” say Emily and Lesley. “Winter is here and with it, Covid, and another lockdown, so we feel the need for simplicity. We have collaborated to produce monochrome pieces inspired by the winter season.”

Looking ahead, Emily will be taking part in  York Open Studios this summer, showing her ceramics at 51 Balmoral Terrace.

Rowntree Park: Hosting the Friends of Rowntree Park’s Words From A Bench project

Creative project of the winter season: Friends of Rowntree Park’s Words From A Bench project

THE Friends of Rowntree Park invite you to join the Words From A Bench project by submitting a short story or poem based around themes of the York park, the outdoors, nature and escape.

No more than 1,000 words in length, the works will be displayed in the park. Adults and children alike should send entries by February 15 to hello@rowntreepark.org.uk.

Mary Coughlan: Irish singer has had to rearrange her Pocklington Arts Centre concert for a second time

Gigs on the move: Pocklington Arts Centre re-writing 2021 diary

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre is re-scheduling concerts aplenty in response to the relentless grip of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Irish chanteuse Mary Coughlan’s April 23 show is being moved to October 19; the Women In Rock tribute show, from May 21 to October 29; New York singer-songwriter Jesse Malin, from February 2 to December 7, and Welsh singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph, from February 12 to December 2. Tickets remain valid for the rearranged dates.

A new date is yet to be arranged for the postponed February 23 gig by The Delines, Willy Vlautin’s country soul band from Portland, Oregon. Watch this space.

At sixes and sevens: The Gesualdo Six with director Owain Park (third from left, back row)

Early notice of online Early Music Day at National Centre for Early Music, York, March 21

THE Gesualdo Six will lead the NCEM’s celebrations for Early Music Day 2021 on March 21 by embarking on an online whistle-stop musical tour of York.

The Cambridge vocal consort’s concert will be a streamed at 3pm as part of a day when musical organisations throughout Europe will come together for a joyful programme of events to mark JS Bach’s birthday. 

During their residency, The Gesualdo Six will spend almost a week in York performing in a variety of locations on a musical tour of the city that will be filmed and shared in March.

Monster and Minster beyond: A B-movie bridge drama on the Ouse by the alliteratively named Lincoln Lightfoot, one of the debutants in York Open Studios 2021, now moved to July

Better late than never: York Open Studios, switching from spring to summer

CELEBRATING the 20th anniversary of Britain’s longest-running open studios, York’s artists are determined to go ahead with York Open Studios 2021, especially after a barren year in 2020, when doors had to stay shut in Lockdown 1.

Consequently, the organisers are switching the two weekends from April 17/18 and 24/25 to July 10/11 and July 17/18, when more than 140 artists and makers will show and sell their work within their homes and workspaces in an opportunity for art lovers and the curious to “enjoy fresh air, meet artists and view and buy unique arts and crafts from York’s very best artisans”.

Midge Ure: Opening his Voice & Visions Tour at the Grand Opera House, York

Planning ahead for next year, part one: Midge Ure & Band Electronica, Grand Opera House, York

MIDGE Ure & Band Electronica will open next year’s Voice & Visions Tour at the Grand Opera House, York, on February 22, when the 67-year-old Scotsman will be marking 40 years since the release of Ultravox’s Rage In Eden and Quartet albums in September 1981 and October 1982 respectively.

Ure & Band Electronica last played the Opera House in October 2019 on The 1980 Tour, when Ultravox’s 1980 album, Vienna, was performed in its entirety for the first time in four decades, complemented by highlights from Visage’s debut album, as Ure recalled the year when he co-wrote, recorded and produced the two future-sounding records.

Tommy Emmanuel: York gig awaits for fingerstyle Australian guitarist

Planning ahead for next year, part two: Tommy Emmanuel at Grand Opera House, York

AUSTRALIAN guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, 65, will play the Grand Opera House, York, on March 6 2022 in the only Yorkshire show of next year’s12-date tour with special guest Jerry Douglas, the Ohio dobro master.

At 44, Emmanuel became one of only five musicians to be named a Certified Guitar Player by his idol, Chet Atkins. Playing fingerstyle, he frequently threads three different guitar parts simultaneously into his material, handling melody, supporting chords and bass all at once.

Steven Devine: Harpsichordist pictured when recording at the NCEM, York

Online concert series of the season: Steven Devine, Bach Bites, National Centre for Early Music, York, Fridays

EVERY Friday at 1pm, until March 19, harpsichordist Steven Devine is working his way through J S Bach’s Fugues and Preludes in his online concert series. Find it on the NCEM’s Facebook stream.

And what about?

STAYING in, staying home, means TV viewing aplenty. Tuck into the French film talent agency frolics and frictions of Call My Agent! on Netflix and Scottish procedural drama Traces on the Beeb; be disappointed by Finding Alice on ITV.

Emily Stubbs and Lesley Birch to exhibit Muted Worlds pots and paintings in online Pyramid Gallery show from tomorrow

Between Rock And A Hard Place, mixed media, by Lesley Birch

EMILY Stubbs and Lesley Birch are teaming up for Muted Worlds, a lockdown exhibition launched tomorrow by Pyramid Gallery, York.

Pots & Paintings will begin as a digital show from the York artists’ studios before moving to the Stonegate gallery once Lockdown 3 strictures are eased.

“We’re delighted to have been invited by Pyramid Gallery owner Terry Brett once again to create another Pots & Paintings show for 2021,” say exhibition curators Emily and Lesley.

A pot by Emily Stubbs for Muted Worlds, her joint exhibition with Lesley Birch

“This time we shall be online and it’s a more muted edge – winter is here and with it, Covid, and another lockdown – so we feel the need for simplicity. We have collaborated to produce monochrome pieces inspired by the winter season.”

Terry says: “Expect exciting expressive mark-making, beautiful soft greys, earths, charcoals and sage greens with occasional pops of colour in winter landscape and abstract pieces with the forms and lines of the natural world.” 

Emily works from Pica Studios, in Grape Lane, where she creates contemporary ceramic vessels that explore the relationship between colour, form and texture.

Lesley Birch at work in her York studio

Fascinated by the juxtaposition of contrasting elements in her work, Emily makes conversations between vessels by placing them together or in groups.

Constantly sketching, drawing and collaging to experiment with line, colour, texture and mark making, Emily translates this process into clay, building up layers of ceramic slips, glazes and stains.

“Stepping away from my usual brightly coloured glazes, Muted Worlds has allowed me to really focus and concentrate on creating rich layers of mark making,” she says.

Flood, mixed media monotype, by Lesley Birch

“Bold brush strokes, blocks of monochrome and areas of scraffito, inspired by the wintery walks around York through lockdown, feature in a new collection of vessels created alongside and inspired by Lesley’s paintings.”

Scottish-born painter and printmaker Lesley interprets feelings and emotions connected to time and place in her works. Calligraphic scribbles and expressive, sweeping brush marks flow on paper and canvas, straddling the boundary between abstraction and figuration.

“The fact that certain combinations of colours, certain marks and movements can convey an atmosphere, that is the joy of painting for me: that exciting moment when materiality and emotion meet,” she says.

“Muted Worlds has allowed me to really focus and concentrate on creating rich layers of mark making,” says Emily Stubbs

The Pots & Paintings go on sale from tomorrow and purchases will be delivered by courier or by the artist if the buyer is in York. Anyone needing further information can contact Terry on 07805 029254.

Looking ahead, Emily will be taking part in the 2021 York Open Studios, showing her ceramics at 51 Balmoral Terrace, York, on April 17, 18, 24 and 25, from 10am to 5pm.

Exhibiting there too will be textiles artist Amy Stubbs, making her Open Studios debut after relocating to York.

A ceramic for Muted Worlds by Emily Stubbs

No York Open Studios in April, but all that art still needs a new home, so look here…DAY TEN

A textile designer by Amy Stubbs

YORK Open Studios 2020, the chance to meet 144 artists at 100 locations over two April weekends, has been cancelled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, with doors sadly shut for the April 17 to 19 and April 25 to 26 event, CharlesHutchPress wants to champion 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 will be 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. 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.

Cielo, collage, by Gail Fox

Gail Fox, collage

AN artist for more than 40 years, London-born Gail co-founded York Open Studios in 2002 with Anne Hutchison.

For 30 years, she made and exhibited hand-built coil pots after gaining a first-class degree at Central School of Art in London in 1980, undertaking commissions for fashion designer Bruce Oldfield and Trisha Guild, of the Designers Guild, for Next Interiors.

Since a change of artistic tack, she has focused on painting and now 2D abstract collages: explorations of juxtapositions, composition and colour, made from painted or found papers.

York Open Studios co-founder Gail Fox

“The whole process is about tweaking and adjusting. It relies on intuition about what seems visually right,” says Gail. “It’s a process of adding to and taking away, a little more of this, a little less of that.

“It’s a bit like adjusting a recipe until you know the taste is right.  Hopefully, after the struggle, something emerges that has a beauty, a sense of resolution and balance.” Learn more at gailfox.co.uk.

Sculptural jewellery by Jane Atkin

Jane Atkin, jewellery

MODERN and sculptural in form, Jane’s functional jewellery incorporates unisex designs in predominantly one-of-a-kind pieces in silver and gold.

“I use cut, uncut semi-precious stones and jet, found by me on the Yorkshire coast, that are employed in modern and minimalist ways,” she says. “From growing up surrounded by good modern design and architecture, these influences filter through into my jewellery.”

Jane Atkin’s studio

Responding to the need to reduce single-use plastic, she has designed a silver drinking straw as an investment for the future. “Silver is naturally antibacterial and will last a lifetime, so this is perfect as a Christening gift as an example,” says Jane, who exhibited at Pyramid Gallery and Lotte Inch Gallery, in York, and the British Craft Trade Fair last year. For more info, head to janeatkinjewellery.com.

Amy Stubbs: heading back north

Amy Stubbs, textiles

RELOCATED to York in a return to her northern roots, pattern print designer  Amy now works from the PICA Studios artist hub in Grape Lane.

This textile design graduate from Falmouth University draws inspiration “from a wealth of experience brought to her by her strong Yorkshire family heritage and the opportunity to experience varying cultures”.

Consequently, Amy’s textile work combines manually drawn abstract elements with the aid of digital technology to create her surface pattern prints that feature strong mark-making motifs and collaging.

2020 would have marked her York Open Studios. Looking ahead, her new website, amystubbs.com, will be “coming soon”.

“Cheeky, bright and full of colour”: Emily Stubbs’s ceramics

Emily Stubbs, ceramics

EMILY creates hand-built sculptural ceramic vessels – cheeky, bright and full of life in character – that explore the relationship between colour, form and texture.

Born in Holmfirth, her first taste of clay was during her pre-BA foundation course at Batley School of Art and Design. Inspired by this medium, Emily studied ceramics at the University of Wales, Cardiff, graduating in 2007.

Emily Stubbs at work at PICA Studios, York

Moving to York in 2009, she has worked from PICA Studios, in Grape Lane, York, since 2017, taking Yorkshire and beyond by storm with her quirky ceramics in galleries and at art fairs, such as Ceramic Art London.  

Emily co-founded the Art& show at York Racecourse with Victoria Robinson and collaborated with Cooper King Distillery to create the artwork for their newly launched Herb Gin label last autumn. Head to emilystubbsceramics@gmail.com to learn more.

Inspired by 20th century travel posters: Elliot Harrison’s illustration of the York Odeon cinema building

Elliot Harrison, illustration

ELLIOT creates architectural illustrations, prints and posters showcasing iconic York buildings and views, favouring a vibrant colour palette inspired by Art Deco design and vintage 20th century travel posters.

His distinctive retro York portfolio has been catching the eye for the past few years, whether at Frankie & Johnny’s Cookshop, Blossom Street Gallery and Owl & Monkey or in exhibitions at York Hospital and the Rowntree Park Reading Café.

Among his most popular illustrations are Rowntree Park, Bishopthorpe Road, the Blossom Street Odeon cinema, the former Clifton Cinema, the Joseph Rowntree Theatre and York Minster.

Elliot Harrison surrounded by his evocative retro artwork

His commissions include illustrations for York Theatre Royal and The Piece Hall, in Halifax, and his repertoire has expanded to take in running medals, mugs, coasters, cards, Christmas cards and a 2020 York calendar that sold out.

Elliot, who gained a degree in art and design from York St John University, was selected for his York Open Studios in 2020. Check him out via elliot@york360.co.uk.

TOMORROW: Rosie Waring; Colin Black; Nicola Lee; Rebecca Mason and Donna Maria Taylor.