Blue Tree Gallery marks tenth anniversary with York 2021 exhibition until May 8

York Minster, mixed media, by Paolo Lazzerini

BLUE Tree Gallery, in Bootham, York, is reopening with Covid-secure measures and temporary opening hours of 11am to 5pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

The York 2021 exhibition, marking the tenth anniversary of Gordon Giarchi and Marisa Giarchi launching the gallery on March 23 2011, began online on March 27, with the works “also displayed in the gallery and gallery window for those passing by”.

York 2021, featuring original paintings by Sarah Connell, Giuliana Lazzerini, Paolo Lazzerini and Mark Sofilas, will run until May 8, now both in person and at

“With the support of our exhibiting artists, and especially our supportive clients, exposure in the media and grants assistance from City of York Council, we continue with the gallery and now see a light ahead through this pandemic,” say Gordon and Marisa.

Manchester mixed-media landscape artist Sarah Connell’s paintings are “primarily about light, atmosphere and colour”. “I have painted in traditional media ever since I can remember, but now also paint digitally, using a stylus and tablet at a computer or on an iPad,” she says.

“My parents are both creative and encouraged me as a child by buying me ‘grown-up’ paints, and sometimes my dad let me tag along with his night school art class. The fact he was a printer meant there was always paper by the ream for me to draw on.”

Dusk On The Ouse, acrylic on panel, by Sarah Connell

Sarah then read Art History and Archaeology at Nottingham University, followed by Clothing Design at Manchester Metropolitan University. “It was while studying clothing design that I first became interested in digital painting and wrote my dissertation on analogue versus digital fashion illustration,” she recalls.

“In a way, I am still exploring how traditional painting influences my digital work and vice versa. I went on to work in design and photography for a few companies, eventually going freelance and spending more and more time painting.”

Blue Tree Gallery artist-in-residence Giuliana Lazzerini was born in Seravezza, near the small town of Pietrasanta, in Tuscany, the daughter of a professional painter and international mosaicist.

Between 1962 and 1968, she was a student at the Istituto d’Arte Stagio Stagi in Pietrasanta, gaining a Master of Arts Diploma, and then studied painting at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Carrara for four years.

In 1987, Giuliana moved to Yorkshire, where she now lives in York. The Tuscan landscape and childhood memories still bear a strong influence on her work, her first encounters with art in Italy having been in her painter father Bruno’s mosaic studio.

Both the translucency of the mosaic fragments and the vibrancy and colours evoked by the juxtaposed mosaic pieces inspired her.

These early perceptions, several years on, provide a language and a vocabulary for her pictures in terms of the colours, surfaces and scale that she uses in constructing her tapestry-like, interlocking, angular-surfaced village landscapes.

Spring Time, Clifford’s Tower, acrylic on canvas, by Giuliana Lazzerini

Architecture exists within a shallow space; structures are locked together through a medieval, narrative sort of pictorial logic.

In other works, Giuliana depicts solitary portrait images. Figures often appear with props, such as shells, cups and boats, and equestrian references sometimes appear too. Are these characters the inhabitants of Lazzerini’s interlocking Tuscan villages, or part of some ceremonial ritual?

“My work is varied and often developed from an idea encountered during a journey that takes me in an unknown territory where I grow as an artist,” says Giuliana. “I usually work in small series of paintings, where memory and imagination come to interplay. Time made me more familiar with the English northern landscape and it finally has left a mark in some of my work, as I become more intrigued by its drama and atmosphere.”

Giuliana’s brother, Paolo Lazzerini, trained at the Liceo Artistico and the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Carrara, winning numerous art prizes and being invited to exhibit in important galleries such as the Accademia of Santa Cecilia in Rome, Le Tableau Gallery in Turin, Galleria San Marco of Rome, Ponte Tresa Gallery in Switzerland and Gallery 2000 in Tokyo, Japan.

Although Paolo worked primarily as a professional graphic designer in the 1990s and 2000s, he continued to paint, presenting many solo and mixed exhibitions in Italy at Forte Dei Marmi, Turin, Edinburgh, Yorkshire, Birmingham, Monaco and Cologne. In the past few years, Paolo’s painting has become more intense, on show at many more events and exhibitions.

Mark Sofilas, originally from Western Australia, migrated to Great Britain in 2008.  “I was an illustrator with more than 20 years’ experience in the advertising industry but took the opportunity, on moving to the UK, to turn to fine art, something that I had always wanted to do,” he says.

He now paints full time from his studio in Leeds, creating oil paintings of the Yorkshire countryside, particularly coastal scenes of the heritage coast, such as the fishing villages of Whitby, Staithes and Robin Hood’s Bay.

York Minster, mixed media on wood panel, by Mark Sofilas

“My paintings are very heavily guided by the emotions a particular scene or moment evokes in me. It’s this feeling that I try to convey to the viewer,” says Mark, a proud member of Leeds Fine Artists and the Association of British Naive Artists.

“It might be something as simple as smoke drifting from a chimney pot or a silhouette created by a particular light source. It may be the strength or history that emanates from an everyday object or piece of architecture.”

Over time, Mark has discovered he can best achieve emotional impact by exaggerating or characterising colour, manipulating perspective slightly and pushing shape and form to arrive, hopefully, at a “nicely balanced place”, where the image conjured has not only captured the physical qualities of the scene, but more importantly, the feeling of the occasion.

“I’m a self-taught painter; not locked into approaching my work with any particular procedure or direction in mind,” he says. “However, I take photographs of my subjects, but like to rely on memory, imagination, the ultimate goal being to recreate exactly what I’m feeling onto a flat surface.

“I don’t do preliminary drawings. Instead, I prefer to adopt a more organic approach, designing the paintings as I go. This helps the end product retain a freshness, a feeling of spontaneity. I always have an image, a mood in my mind’s eye, that I’m trying to put down, and I find that working this way allows me to be flexible; going with any happy accidents that more than likely will occur.”

Mark adds: “It’s these little surprises that I can adopt, learn from and take into my next painting. I enjoy the journey that this direct and unstructured approach takes me on, finding that it enables me to either get close to achieving what I had in mind and heart or, on occasion, arrive somewhere unexpected but just as rewarding.”

Blue Tree Gallery’s Revive show goes online from today – and fills the window too

Follow Me, acrylic canvas, by Giuliana Lazzerini

BLUE Tree Gallery’s new online exhibition, Revive, opens today, showing original paintings by artist-in-residence Giuliana Lazzerini, Steve Tomlinson, James Wheeler and Giles Ward.

“We’re temporarily closed due to the third lockdown but still operating with online shows and displaying the artworks in the gallery and gallery window for those passing by,” says Gordon Giarchi, co-owner of the gallery in Bootham, York.

Giuliana Lazzerini, born in Seravezza, near Pietrasanta, in Tuscany, moved to Yorkshire in 1987. “My work is varied and often developed from an idea encountered during a journey that takes me in an unknown territory where I grow as an artist,” she says.

“I usually work in a small series of paintings, where memory and imagination come to interplay. Time made me more familiar with the English northern landscape, and it finally has left a mark in some of my work as I become more intrigued by its drama and atmosphere.”

Ambient Tide, acrylic on calico panel, by Steve Tomlinson

Art has always been central to Steve Tomlinson’s life, from passing his art exam and 11-plus in order to go to an art grammar school, Moseley Road School of Art, in Birmingham, to attaining a degree in Fine Art at Canterbury.

After an early career in exhibitions at the British Museum and interpretive projects for the heritage industry, he has worked on public art projects – mainly sculpture – for many years. “I’ve always painted and my work here at the Blue Tree Gallery is a further, somewhat symbolic, development of my interests in the sea and the associated physical and emotional experiences it brings,” says Steve.

“There’s a timeless reflective quality to walking on a beach or staring out to sea: it gives back a version of our own thoughts and feelings. As we occupy this threshold, our minds are filled with a sense of space, of time and our own human fragile place in the world and the paintings attempt to stimulate such a contemplation.

“The textures I create suggest the wind, the sounds of the sea and other coastal features, such as pebbles, rocks and driftwood. I hope that my work may encourage people to look beyond or within themselves and that the beholder will find a meaning that is pertinent, personal and rewarding. To quote E. E. Cummings: ‘It’s always ourselves we find in the sea.’”

Force Of Nature, abstract oil on canvas, by James Wheeler

Glasgow-born James Wheeler studied at the Glasgow School of Art and trained as a carpet designer before moving south to be the design studio manager at a Yorkshire carpet manufacturer, where he has become one of the UK’s leading carpet designers.

The importance of colour and composition in his professional designs has flowed naturally into the subtlety of hue and texture in his landscape paintings, painted primarily in oils on cork.

His work straddles the contemporary and the timeless, inviting viewers to invest in a personal interpretation of each painting.

James seeks to mix memory and desire in the light and atmosphere of his landscapes, drawing inspiration from visits to his homeland, Scotland, and from holidays spent in France, Venice and the Mediterranean islands. Closer to home, his love of the Lake District and Yorkshire scenery stirs him too.

Six Sprats, oil and acrylic board, by Giles Ward

Giles Ward is an artist and writer originally from Yorkshire, where he studied Fine Art in Sheffield before moving to Exeter to study Illustration and Graphic Design, since when he has exhibited both in the UK and overseas.

Experimentation is at the heart of Giles’s painting, pre-dominantly in oils. His canvases take on other-worldly textures with the addition of acrylics, inks, spray paint, varnishes and anything else he can lay his hands on. He is inspired by the natural world and examines the hidden worlds of colour and texture found in nature’s close-up detail.

“We may be closed but we are always ‘open’ for your queries by email and to purchase online at,” says Gordon. “You can now use the Own ArtScheme service in the comfort of your own home, paying for your art in ten interest-free monthly instalments. Just get in touch by email at”

Revive can be viewed online at until March 13.

Blue Tree Gallery launches The Christmas Show online for now but hopefully….

Snowfall In The Woods, mixed media on board, by Sharon Winter

ORIGINAL paintings by Colin Cook, Giuliana Lazzerini, Nikki Monaghan and Sharon Winter feature in The Christmas Show, the latest Blue Tree Gallery exhibition in York until January 16 2021.

“Another lockdown as we open our new show means the gallery is closed, but we are now online till re-opening again in December, we hope,” says Gordon Giarchi, owner of the gallery in Bootham.

“As well as some stunning new paintings from Colin, Giuliana, Nikki and Sharon, we also have some lovely new ceramics, glass, sculpture and jewellery, which would make the perfect gifts and stocking fillers this Christmas.

”Look out for driftwood sculptures by Natalie Parr, Christmas-themed ceramics by Kath Cooper, oxidised steel hanging decorations by David Mayne and linocuts and handmade Christmas cards by Giuliana Lazzerini.”

Christmas cards, handmade by Giuliana Lazzerini

The Christmas Show has gone live on the gallery website at for views and sales.

Colin Cook, based near Whitby, is a West Londoner who moved north in 1989 to teach at a further education college, specialising in drawing, painting, photography and digital imaging.

“After many years of teaching, I began exhibiting again about five years ago,” he says. “The subject matter and inspiration for my paintings is taken from the north eastern coast and moors and the Lake District. The paintings are representational, based on observation of the constantly changing and intriguing light.

“Most of my paintings are about creating an atmosphere through the use of dramatic light and bold mark making. Compositional tension is important and hopefully created by the careful arrangement of the different pictorial elements: colour, texture, light, etc.”

A Sunny Evening At Saltwick Bay, North Yorkshire, acrylic on canvas, by Colin Cook

Colin’s paintings are reliant on careful “under-drawing” to create the structure for the looser brush marks to sit on. “The strongest shapes are worked in with large brushes and the smaller areas of specific focus are developed later,” he says.

“I prefer to work with acrylic paints and enjoy the flexibility that working with a water- based medium gives. Sometimes, the paint is heavily ‘impastoed’; on other occasions, it is built up in layers or glazes. Acrylic allows for a certain immediacy as it dries fairly quickly.”

Blue Tree Gallery artist-in-residence Giuliana Lazzerini was born in Seravezza, near Pietrasanta in Tuscany, moving to Yorkshire in 1987. “My work is varied and often developed from an idea encountered during a journey that takes me in an unknown territory, where I grow as an artist,” she says.

“I usually work in small series of paintings, where memory and imagination come to interplay. Time made me more familiar with the English northern landscape and it finally has left a mark in some of my work, as I become more intrigued by its drama and atmosphere.”

Dales Glow, acrylic on canvas, by Giuliana Lazzerini

Nikki Monaghan, who has a studio at Falkirk, Scotland, studied at the Scottish College of Textiles, subsequently working over the years as an interior stylist, designer and artist, while contributing to community arts too.

“My subject matter ranges from narrative landscapes and seascapes to quirky birds and figures,” she says. “I love colour and my paintings evolve by layering up acrylics and oil pastels, creating textures within them.”

Nikki’s work varies in size, ranging from small paintings that concentrate on a particular subject, to larger canvases where scenes evolve.

“Working from memory allows my work to take on a stylised abstract feel,” she says. “I’m influenced by many things: the weather, the Scottish landscape, how I feel when I wake up in the morning, anything that sticks in my head! There are no set rules.”

Gypsophilia And Carnations, mixed media on wood panel, by Nikki Monaghan

Sharon Winter graduated from University College, Scarborough, with a first-class degree in Fine Art in 2001, staying on for another year to do a post-graduate certificate in painting, specialising in tempera painting techniques.

Since then, she has exhibited in Yorkshire galleries and undertaken several artist residencies and her work has been commissioned by Scarborough and Bridlington Hospital.

She has designed and painted theatre “flats” for the Spotlight Theatre in Bridlington and the Bridlington Old Town Association and completed a book illustration project in collaboration with poet John Fewings.

“I work with oils, acrylics, and mixed media,” says Sharon. “I love Pre-Renaissance art, especially the gold-embellished icons and medieval illustrations, and the work of artists such as Marc Chagall, Stanley Spencer and Gustav Klimt.

Christmas-themed ceramic, by Kath Cooper

“I’m interested in combining abstract, sometimes decorative, pattern with figurative subjects inspired by myths, memories and dreams.”

For as long as she can remember, Sharon has loved painting and drawing. “I paint from my imagination, inspired by folk tales, poetry, and dreams,” she says. “I build up layers of paint, collage, gold leaf and text until the images, landscapes, characters and narratives have emerged.”

Whatever happens following the Lockdown 2 update after December 2, The Christmas Show will continue online until the January 16 closing date.

“We are wishing you lots of goodwill, health and happiness this Christmas and hope you enjoy the exhibition, whether online or, hopefully, from December 3 in the brick and mortar gallery, depending on the new Government guidelines,” says Gordon. “We will keep you posted.”