More Things To Do in York and beyond or at home, in or hopefully out of the rain, courtesy of The Press, York. List No. 13

Benched: Lisa Howard as grief-stricken Cathy, coming out of isolation on Easter Sunday 2020 in Matt Aston’s lockdown play, Every Time A Bell Rings, presented by Park Bench Theatre. Picture: Northedge Photography

A BANK Holiday on Monday, the return to schools drawing ever closer, masked or unmasked, the summer calendar is speeding by.

Make the most of the outdoors before the crepuscular Covid uncertainty of autumn and beyond arrives for theatres, concert halls and gig venues alike.

Charles Hutchinson pops outside, then quickly head back indoors in the rain with these recommendations.

Comedy for your living room…from theirs: Your Place Comedy presents Paul Sinha and Angela Barnes, Sunday, 8pm

Paul Sinha and Angela Barnes: The stream team for Your Place Comedy, performing in their living rooms on Sunday night

YORKSHIRE virtual comedy project Your Place Comedy returns after a summer break to deliver a second series of live streamed shows over the next three months, re-starting with The Chase star Paul Sinha and  BBC Radio 4 News Quiz guest host Angela Barnes this weekend.

Corralled by Selby Town Council arts officer Chris Jones, ten small, independent theatres and arts centres from God’s Own Country and the Humber are coming together again, amid continued unease for the industry, to provide entertainment from national touring acts.

Sunday’s show will be broadcast live to viewers’ homes for free, with full details on how to watch on YouTube and Twitch at yourplacecomedy.co.uk. “As before, viewers will have an option to make a donation to the venues if they have enjoyed the broadcast,” says Chris.

Mucking around: Cassie Vallance enjoying herself in Teddy Bears’ Picnic in the Friends’ Garden, Rowntree Park,
York. Picture: Northedge Photography

Garden theatre part three: Park Bench Theatre in Every Time A Bell Rings, Friends Garden, Rowntree Park, York, until September 5

SAMUEL Beckett’s First Love has left the bench for good. Children’s show Teddy Bears’ Picnic, starring Cassie Vallance, resumes daytime residence from today.  From this week, the premiere of Engine House Theatre artistic director Matt Aston’s lockdown monologue Every Time A Bell Rings occupies the same bench on evenings until September 5.

Performed by Slung Low and Northern Broadsides regular Lisa Howard and directed by Tom Bellerby on his return to York from London, Aston’s 50-minute play is set in Lockdown on Easter Sunday 2020, when isolated, grief-stricken Cathy searches for solace on her favourite park bench in her favourite park in this funny and poignant look at how the world is changing through these extraordinary times.

Tickets for performances in the Covid-secure Friends Garden must be bought in advance at parkbenchtheatre.com or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk. Bring picnics, blankets and headphones to tune in to shows delivered on receivers. 

Decked out: Hannah Sibai’s design for the Pop-Up On The Patio festival at York Theatre Royal

Deckchairs will be provided: Pop-Up On The Patio, week three at York Theatre Royal, August 28 and  29

YORK Theatre Royal’s Covid-secure summer festival of outdoor performances on Hannah Sibai’s terrace stage climaxes with five more shows, three tomorrow, two on Saturday.

First up, tomorrow at 4pm, is York company Cosmic Collective Theatre’s cult show Heaven’s Gate, an intergalactic pitch-black comedy starring  satirical writer Joe Feeney, Anna Soden, Lewes Roberts and Kate Cresswell as they imagine the final hour of four fictionalised members of a real-life UFO-theistic group.

York performance poet Henry Raby puts the word into sword to slice up the past decade in Apps & Austerity at 6.30pm; Say Owt, the York outlet for slam poets, word-weavers and “gobheads”, follows at 8pm. On Saturday, York magician, juggler and children’s entertainer Josh Benson is unstoppable in Just Josh at 1pm before York pop, soul and blues singer Jess Gardham closes up the patio at 4pm.

Jo Walton: Rust on show at Pyramid Gallery

York exhibition of the week and beyond: Jo Walton, Paintings and Rust Prints, Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, until September 30

YORK artist Jo Walton uses rust and rusted metal sheet in innovative ways to create her artworks. Iron filings are applied as ‘paint’ and as they rust, reactions occur, resulting in every painting being unique and unrepeatable.

“Jo’s work is abstract, inspired by horizons,” says Pyramid Gallery owner Terry Brett. “Her work features enhanced rust-prints on plaster surfaces, combinations of rusted sheet metal with oil painting and painting seascapes on gold-metal leaf.”

The poster for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet

First blockbuster of the summer…at last: Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, at York cinemas

THE wait is over. This summer has been more blankbuster than blockbuster, thanks to the stultifying impact of the Covid lockdown and the big film companies’ reluctance to take a chance on a major release in the slow-burn, socially distanced reopening of cinemas.

Step forward Christopher Nolan, director of Memento, Inception, three Dark Knight/Batman movies and Dunkirk to grasp the nettle by releasing the 151-minute psychological thriller/action movie Tenet.

John David Washington (yes, Denzel’s son), Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine and Kenneth Branagh ride a rollercoaster plot that follows a secret agent who must manipulate time in order to prevent the Third World War. Apparently, Tenet is a “film to feel, not necessarily understand”, like a Scarborough fairground ride, then.

Bella Gaffney expresses her enthusiasm for taking part in Songs Under Skies in the National Centre for Early Music churchyard garden

Double bills galore outside a church: Songs Under Skies, National Centre for Early Music, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York, between September 2 and 17

SONGS Under Skies will bring together the National Centre for Early Music, The Crescent, The Fulford Arms and the Music Venues Alliance for an open-air series of acoustic concerts next month in York.

Dates for the diary are: September 2, Amy May Ellis and Luke Saxton; September 3, Dan Webster and Bella Gaffney; September 9,  Kitty VR and Boss Caine; September 10, Wolf Solent and Rosalind; September 16, Polly Bolton and Henry Parker; September 17, Elkyn and Fawn.

Gates will open at the NCEM’s Walmgate home, St Margaret’s Church, at 6.30pm for each 7pm start; acts will perform either side of a 30-minute interval with a finishing time of 8.30pm. 

The artwork for the new album by perennial York Barbican favourites The Waterboys

And what about…

Discovering The Waterboys’ new album, Good Luck, Seeker, Mike Scott’s latest soulful blast, met with universal thumbs-up reviews. Or bunking down with 1981 Ashes-winning captain turned psychoanalyst Mike Brearley’s new book for the end of summer, Spirit Of Cricket.

What happened when Jo Walton got a rust stain on her jeans and it wouldn’t wash out?

Gold Glimmer, by Jo Walton

AFTER 26 years under Terry Brett’s stewardship, Pyramid Gallery is showing signs of Rust…but in a good way.

On the first floor of the Stonegate premises in York, he is exhibiting rust prints and paintings by Rogues Atelier artist, upholsterer and interior designer Jo Walton until the end of September.

In these Covid-compromised times, the works can be viewed Monday to Saturday, from 10am to 5pm, with access restricted to a maximum single group up to six people or two separate groups of one or two at any one time. Alternatively, take a look online at pyramidgallery.com.

Jo’s works are abstract, inspired by horizons, whether rust prints on paper and plaster, combining rusted metal with painting, or seascapes on gold-metal leaf.

“Jo uses rust and rusted metal sheets in innovative ways to create art works,” says Terry. “Iron filings are used as ‘paint’ and as they rust, reactions occur, every painting being unique and unrepeatable.

“Jo also uses oils to paint sea and landscapes onto gold and silver lead, resulting in deep, rich and unique paintings.”

Art Rust Disk, by Jo Walton

Her artwork reflects both her childhood in Australia and her days, as a young woman, spent sailing oceans, from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean.

After many years of travelling, Jo returned to England, studying fine art at Bradford University and now exhibiting all year round – until the Covid lockdown – from her York studios, Rogues Atelier, an old tannery in Franklins Yard, Fossgate, that she shares with jeweller and fellow York Open Studios exhibitor Emma Welsh and international textile artist Robert Burton.

In her “other life”, Jo is an upholsterer, initially learning her skills from making cushions and sail covers for yachts when living in Greece. She gained her City and Guilds qualification in modern and traditional upholstery and has taught the subject for many years for City of York Council.

“Occasionally, my skills have the opportunity to blend into a ‘huge blank canvas’: interior design,” says Jo, who founded and designed the Space 109 community arts centre in Walmgate, York, in 2006, along with creating and teaching many of the art and community projects there.

She later converted three empty shops on Bishopthorpe Road into Angel on The Green, a bar and café and home to comedy nights and exhibitions that had to “flow with a solid theme throughout”. “It was quite a step to move on to a bar from a community project,” she says.

“The rust is forever changing, as are the solutions of chemicals on its surface,” says artist Jo Walton. “No two prints are ever the same. It feels like alchemy.”

In between, Jo created the Rogues Atelier studios, where she takes on upholstery commissions and runs upholstery and cushion-making workshops. In Leeds, she has designed the interior of Rafi’s Spice and the Bluebird Bakery, both in Kirkgate Market.

Defining her artwork, Jo says: “My paintings are an attempt to capture memories, an intrinsic feeling, a distant dream. As a child I travelled to and from Australia by sea. Since then, in my adult years, I’ve spent many days, nights, years, sailing around the Mediterranean, across the Atlantic, in the Gulf of Aqaba, the Red Sea, the Irish Channel and Bay of Biscay. Each day and night providing a wonderful visual feast of clouds, sea, sun-setting and moon-rising.

“I used to deliver yachts worldwide with a minimal crew. Then, the birth of my daughter Blythe served as a beautiful anchor, which landed me in England.

“These images are ingrained in my mind and surface through my art, always seeking the horizon and the contrast from the sun or moon. I work on gold or silver metal leaf to illustrate the ever-present light when on the sea.”

Jo has always been fascinated by rust, the colours from burnt orange to umber, its weathered, changing surface and slow development. “The colours resonate with my childhood; memories of Australia with its red earth, running around farms with metal shacks, rusted corrugated roofs, broken machinery,” she says.

“I’ve collected pieces over the years – not knowing what to do with them but unwilling to let these beautiful ‘lumps of junk’ go.”

Rust print, by Jo Walton

Eventually, Jo discovered the method of persuading the surface rust to leave its metal and imprint onto paper and fabric. “This has now rendered my objects useful, as well as beautiful. The process is slow and always experimental with only a relatively small amount of control over the end result, which can never be repeated exactly.

“The rust is forever changing, as are the solutions of chemicals on its surface. No two prints are ever the same,” she says. “It feels like alchemy.”

Jo finally found the confidence to produce work by carefully rusting the metal and presenting it as the art in its own right. “It was the initial impact of the rusted object that always mesmerised me,” she says.

“The method to preserve and prevent further rusting of the metal plate has been researched, tried and tested by myself over the past five years to the point where I’m in no doubt of its durability.”

Here Charles Hutchinson puts a series of questions to Jo Walton on the subjects of alchemy, rust, painting, sailing, horizons, studios and teaching.

Oil On Steel, by Jo Walton

Is your work a meeting of science (chemistry) and art: the very essence of alchemy?

“It does feel like alchemy to me but I can’t say I’ve studied the science, apart from how to preserve the results.”

It is always said an artist never knows when a work is finished, but eventually has to let go? How do you reach that moment and is it more difficult because of the unpredictable behaviour of the materials you use?

“With the rust pieces, it’s always small adjustments and then waiting to see the results the rusted metal will give. It’s done when it resonates a certain chord for me – same with the paintings. It can be a long process.”

How did you discover your rust-removing technique: was it serendipitous – like the invention of glass – or was it experimental, with a method being applied?

“I got a rust stain on my jeans and it wouldn’t wash out. As a trained printmaker, I thought I can do something with that! So, I started playing with my rust collection…there was a lot of trial and error before I got some really satisfying results.”

Flame Forest, by Jo Walton

At sea, when sailing, you have the horizon in perma-view, but you are always in motion with the movement of the sea below. In your artwork, do you seek to freeze a moment and then for the viewer to release it again?

“I guess so, although you can be in the middle of the Atlantic and sometimes it’s as flat as a pond! It’s like sailing on a mirror. 

“I seek to preserve a notion, a dream-like memory of those experiences. I love watching people view my art:  some glance and walk straight past and others stare for a long time. Some of those people have sailed oceans too and bought my work. That means so much to me.” 

Why is light so important to you in your work?

“I use gold metal leaf to catch and reflect the light in the way that water does. It’s symbolic of the light on the sea.”

How do you achieve that burnished quality in your works?

“Paint and remove, paint again… many thin layers.”

“I love watching people view my art:  some glance and walk straight past and others stare for a long time,” says Jo Walton.

Is it more challenging to work to a limited range of colours or do the works gain more from bringing out everything from that palette?

“My paintings have been compared to etchings, which are fairly limited in colour, but I guess it’s just what I do with that subject matter. With portraits or other subjects, the palette will be totally different.”

You had to forego your sixth successive York Open Studios in April, amid the lockdown. What’s next for you?  More exhibitions? Any commissions?

“Covid has wiped out any plans that were in place for most artists and makers. Hopefully next year will be better. I’m very fortunate to be exhibiting with Terry at Pyramid. As far as commissions go – they are carefully considered!”

How does your interior design work, such as for the Angel on The Green on Bishopthorpe Road, differ as an artistic challenge from your artworks?

“Strangely, not much different artistically. I was still seeking to balance the overall image but on a huge canvas, with more ingredients, a lot more planning and paperwork. The big difference was working with a team of great people, which was a lot of fun.”

Rogues Atelier: Jo Walton’s workplace in Franklins Yard, York

What has the Rogues Atelier studio brought to your artistic life?

“The possibility to work big, make a huge mess and to participate in events like York Open Studios and the other fairs we do as a group of artists. Rogues Atelier is so central in York that we have a lot of visitors and interest in what we do.”  

Do you still sail? If not, do you miss it?

“I stopped sailing when I ended up back in England. I do miss it and often wonder how I’ve ended up so far away from the sea.”

How is the teaching going?

“I don’t teach art anymore as I found that the energy I give to it takes away from the energy I need for my own ideas. I do still love teaching though and hold regular courses in upholstery.”

What is the first piece of advice you give in your upholstery classes?

“Good question. First piece is how to avoid injuring yourself! Second is to not to attempt a winged-back armchair as your first piece…” 

Jo Walton is exhibiting Paintings and Rust Prints at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, until September 30.

Raw Umber on Gold Leaf, by Jo Walton

No York Open Studios this weekend, but all that art and craft still needs a new home… DAY 28

TODAY should have been spent visiting other people’s homes, not staying home, on weekend two of York Open Studios 2020.

From tomorrow, art will be on the nation’s TV sets as Grayson’s Art Club “battles the boredom of Coronavirus lockdown by taking viewers on a journey of art discovery” in a six-part Channel 4 series.

From his London workshop, anything-but-grey artist Grayson Perry will encourage the British public to create their own art while in isolation, built around six themed shows that will climax with an exhibition of viewers’ art.

Been there, done that, will continue to do all that art-making, might well be the resourceful attitude of the 144 artists and makers at 100 York locations after the Covid-19 pandemic strictures turned York Open Studios into York Shut Studios.

Over the past four weeks, CharlesHutchPress has determinedly championed the creativity of York’s artists and makers. Each day, in brochure order, five artists who now miss out on the exposure of Open Studios have been 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.

The last five are being profiled today, when you also can visit yorkopenstudios.co.uk to take your own Virtual Open Studios tour, wherein artists show their studios and workshops, favourite processes, answer your questions, and display pictures of their new work.

“Search for #YorkOpenStudios anywhere on social media or follow your favourite artists to see more,” advises the YOS website.

Anyway, time to discover more about…

Meg, oil on linen, winner of Shirley Hannan National Portrait Prize 2018, by Marcus Callum

Marcus Callum, painting

MARCUS is a British-Australian contemporary figurative painter and digital artist who specialises in realist portraiture.

“Fusing traditional techniques with a contemporary aesthetic, my work conveys a sense of psychological insight and is designed to provoke an emotional response,” he says. “Buddhism, meditation, hypnosis and our understanding of the subconscious mind are influences on my process and subject matter.

“Characters reflect on increasing anxieties over impending global crises and wonder if, by each of us becoming more conscious, we may discover individual and collective hope.”

Self-portrait, by Marcus Callum

Trained in Sydney and New York, Marcus won the Dame Joan Sutherland Award in 2014; Australia’s third richest portrait prize, the Black Swan Portrait Prize, in 2015 and the Shirley Hannan National Portrait Prize, Australia’s premier award for realistic portraiture, in 2018, when he also was a finalist in the Sky Portrait Artist of the Year.

Marcus previously worked between Sydney and London; now York has come into his life. He was long-listed for the Aesthetica Art Prize, whose 2020 exhibition opened at York Art Gallery before the Coronavirus lockdown, and he would have been exhibiting in York Open Studios for the first time. Visit marcuscallum.com for more info.

Bratislavian Folk Memory, by Robert Burton

Robert Burton, textiles

ARTIST and academic Robert tells stories in textiles, fibres and cloth, utilising print and found objects in narratives of people, lives and things.

“I explore themes of memory, loss and transformation through fibre, fabric making, print techniques, drawing and broad approaches to image making,” he says.

“My artworks cross the threshold of disciplines in a conceptual dialogue between the innovative use of analogue, contemporary and emerging techniques.”

Rob Burton: Themes of memory, loss and transformation

Rob’s work has been shown all over the world in solo exhibitions, biennial and group exhibitions, whether in Britain, the United States or Eastern Europe. Last year, he exhibited in Ivano-Frankivs’k, Ukraine; Vilnius, Lithuania; Madrid, Spain, and Haachst, Belgium.

He regularly collaborates with the international screendance collective WECreate to produce costumes for video, dance and installations. Find out more at robertburton108.myportfolio.com.

Inspired by horizons: Jo Walton’s artwork

Jo Walton, painting

ARTIST, upholsterer and interior designer Jo’s paintings are abstract, inspired by horizons, whether rust-prints on paper and plaster, combining rusted metal with painting, or seascapes on gold-metal leaf.

Her artwork reflects her childhood in Australia and her days as a young woman spent sailing oceans, from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean.

After many years of travelling, Jo returned to England, studying fine art at Bradford University and now exhibiting all year round from her York studios, Rogues Atelier, an old tannery in Franklins Yard, Fossgate, that she shares with jeweller and fellow York Open Studios exhibitor Emma Welsh and textile artist Robert Burton.

Jo, whose work features regularly at Terry Brett’s Pyramid Gallery in Stonegate, would have been taking part in York Open Studios for a sixth successive year.  

Jo Walton: Artist, upholsterer and interior designer

In her “other life”, Jo is an upholsterer, initially learning her skills from making cushions and sail covers for yachts in her time living in Greece. She gained her City and Guilds qualification in modern and traditional upholstery and has taught the subject for many years for City of York Council.

“Occasionally, my skills have the opportunity to blend into a ‘huge blank canvas’: interior design,” says Jo, whose first public design commission was for Space 109, the community arts centre she founded in Walmgate in 2006.

Her second was to convert three empty shops on Bishopthorpe Road into Angel on The Green, a bar and café and home to comedy nights and exhibitions that had to “flow with a solid theme throughout”. “It was quite a step to move on to a bar from a community bar,” she says.

In between, Jo created the Rogues Atelier studios, where she takes on upholstery commissions and runs upholstery and cushion-making workshops. Her latest design was for the interior of the Bluebird Bakery, in Kirkgate Market, Leeds. Complete the picture at whatjodidnext.com.

Handmade Bismark Chain, by Emma Welsh

Emma Welsh, jewellery

EMMA, a professional jewellery designer with 11 years’ experience, is now a resident artist at the Rogues Atelier studios.

She designs traditionally made silver, gold and platinum pieces, her latest work exploring jewellery with a practical use in the form of vessels with various purposes.

Emma has a keen interest in developing her skills, embracing ancient principles as a means of deepening her relationship with the materials and tools she works with.

She completes bespoke commissions, repairs and re-modelling of existing jewellery into new designs and offers bespoke tuition in York, most notably her  wedding-ring workshops. Head to emmawelshjewellery.uk for more details.

Deranged Poetesses, by Northern Electric’s Peter Roman

Northern Electric, multi-media

NORTHERN Electric received a York Open Studios 2020 multi-media bursary to present a tale of loss at the Arts Barge, Foss Basin, York, over the two weekends.

The bursary “enables artists to create experiences such as digital works, installations, films or performances as part of the Open Studios”.

Presented by York storyteller, performance poet and theatre-maker Katie Greenbrown and artist Peter Roman, with a score by Christian Topman and Chris Moore, their latest multi-media presentation “takes us back to when the Ouse teemed with working barges, you knew your place or else – and jazz was the devil itself”.

Artist Peter Roman and storyteller, performance poet and theatre-maker Katie Greenbrown

“We specialise in creating and delivering multi-media storytelling pieces that combine spoken-word poetry, art and live music,” says Katie. “Our recent work includes Magpie Bridge for Apples & Snakes to mark the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing in July 1969; Green In Our Memory, for City of York Council’s First World War commemorations, and Rust for the 2019 Great Yorkshire Fringe, in collaboration with Arts Barge and York Theatre Royal.”

After the cancellation of York Open Studios 2020, what will happen next to the new Northern Electric piece? “We’ve completed it, so we’re thinking of trying to do a digital screening,” says Katie. “We just need to chat with Hannah [West] and Christian [Topman] from the Arts Barge about the possibility of doing that.” To keep on track, visit facebook.com/northernelectric.

TOMORROW: After York Open Studios/York Shut Studios 2020, the CharlesHutchPress art focus switches to the Blue Tree Gallery, in Bootham, York, now hosting an online exhibition in aid of the NHS.

Looking ahead, York Open Studios 2021 will run on April 17 and 18 and 24 and 25, with a preview evening on April 16.