Who are the NEW artists in 2021’s York Open Studios? The joy of six more to find

An exploration of line and colour by Nick Kobyluch

AFTER the Covid-enforced fallow year of 2020, York Open Studios returns this weekend for its 20th parade of the city’s creative talent.

Preceded by Friday’s 6pm to 9pm 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 this week, 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.

“I love the decisiveness of the pen when committing pen to paper,” says Mark Druery

Mark Druery, drawing, 63 St Paul’s Terrace, Holgate, York

YORKSHIREMAN Mark is inseparably both an architect and an artist.

Trained at Canterbury School of Art and Design, where he developed his love for art, architecture and Italy, he works mainly with technical pens directly onto watercolour paper, to which he applies watercolour wash and accents “if I have the time”.

“I love the immediacy of mark-making and the decisiveness of the pen when committing pen to paper,” he says, ahead of showing sketches and drawings of such favourite places along his travels as York, Yorkshire and Venice in his York Open Studios debut.

“There is always a risk factor when using pen directly and you must constantly adapt when drawing and evolve and change with the process, just like being an architect; I cannot take my building down and start again!”

Mark Druery: Artist and architect

More of Mark’s pen and watercolour sketches are on display in the Momentum Summer Show, the Westside Artists’ exhibition at Blossom Street, York, until September 26.

“I never forget the place where I sat and passed the time and sketched and painted,” he says. “The concentration required in this process to capture a place on paper commits the details to memory far better than any photograph and remains with you forever.”

He will be among the YOS artists welcoming visitors at Friday’s 6pm to 9pm preview.

Kate Akrill’s ceramics, made for “those who love the spookier side of life”

Kate Akrill, ceramics, 14 Caroline Close, Holgate, York

BY day a librarian, by night Kate is a self-taught potter, burning the midnight oil to make skulls, cauldrons and shadow-box altars.

Under the guise of Skullduggery Ceramics, she creates “lovely and unusual, handmade, ceramic homeware and jewellery for those who love the spookier side of life”. 

Drawing on strange and peculiar themes from gothic literature, witchcraft, superstition and Victorian mourning, she makes subtly unusual jewellery, combining traditional motifs with unexpected imagery and textures.

Kate Akrill: Diurnal librarian, nocturnal potter

Kate uses hand-building techniques and distorts the original purpose of found objects and moulds to turn clay into striking – and sometimes unsettling – designs.

Like Mark Druery, she is taking part in the Momentum Summer Show, mounted by Westside Artists at Blossom Street Gallery, and will be opening her home studio for the YOS preview evening.

Mixed-media work by Lisa Lundqvist

Lisa Lundqvist, mixed media, garden studio behind 55 Green Lane, York

LISA uses foraged and found objects in nature to create art that reflects her love and respect for the natural environment around her, whether expressed through mixed-media assemblage, installations, eco-printed textiles or paintings in oil and cold wax.

After pursuing an international career in portrait and wedding photography, Lisa expanded her creative skills by completing an Access Art & Design diploma last year, attaining a distinction.

Lisa Lundqvist: Developing work in both fine art and textiles

An emerging body of art in mixed media led to her acceptance onto an MA course in Creative Practice, where she is now developing work in textiles and fine art.

“My main focus of research is in discovering environmentally conscious techniques for eco-dyeing and printing textiles using local plants,” she says.

The first chance to visit her garden studio will be at Friday evening’s preview.

Nick Kobyluch: Saw the light; left London for York

Nick Kobyluch, drawing and painting, 73 Acomb Road, York

NICK moved to York in 2018 from London, where he had been part of Skylark Galleries.

His drawings and paintings range from landscapes and portraits to both representational and abstract, experimental mark-making in an exploration of line and colour.

“There will be a range of framed and unframed pieces, as well as sketchbooks, on show to view,” says Nick, who has taken part in many shows and art fairs over the past few years and has his work in many private collections.

“My work preserves precious, fleeting moments,” says portrait artist Lucy McElroy

Lucy McElroy, portraiture, 24 Manor Drive South, York

PORTRAIT artist Lucy combines traditional techniques of drawing and painting with expressive mark-making to create beautiful, emotive images with a realistic likeness to her subjects. 

She takes commissions as well as dedicating time to developing her own creative practice in her home studio. “Deeply aware of the transient nature of life, my work preserves precious, fleeting moments,” says Lucy, who works in oils, charcoal and soft pastels.

“My present practice looks at family relationships and explores how our family histories shape who we are today.”

Lucy McElroy: Exploring how our family histories shape who we are today

Lucy, who studied Fine Art at Leeds University, has enjoyed 16 years of teaching art and now balances her time between the joys and challenges of being a mother to a young family, teaching at All Saints RC School, in York, and her artistic creativity.

You can see more of Lucy’s portraits at the Westside Artists show at Blossom Street Gallery, York, through the summer.

Glass bobbin, “invisible” work, by Liz O’Connell

Liz O’Connell, glass, 53 Plantation Drive, York

LIZ is an emerging artist of Irish and Yorkshire heritage, who uses many techniques and processes in glass, making objects in her York studio.

Fascinated by textiles and issues of “invisibility” and “skill value”, she completed a degree in Contemporary Craft at York College and then studied for a Masters at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, where she expanded her practice to incorporate film and performance.

“I explore domestic narratives by making glass textiles and using them performatively, exploring complex ideas about gender and ‘invisible’ work,” says Liz. “I re-appropriate domestic detergents and materials; subverting domestic chores by filming the process and by creating film stills and canvases.

“I explore domestic narratives by making glass textiles and using them performatively,” says Liz O’Connell

“I want us to consider the psychological impact of constant caring, giving and invisible labour. The films and stills capture the process and the domestic sphere in which I work. The failure to measure or acknowledge unpaid labour is the biggest data gap in collecting economic statistics.”

Liz will give demonstrations of her working practice each day, preceded by opening her studio for Friday’s preview evening.

TOMORROW: Fiona Lane, Ealish Wilson, Amy Butcher, Joanna Lisowiec, Dee Thwaite and Tabitha Grove.

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

Giraffe Whispers, by Ian Cameron

YORK Open Studios 2020, the chance to meet 144 artists at 100 locations over two April weekends, should have started with a preview this evening, but the annual event 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.

More Alike Than Different, by Lu Mason

 Lu Mason, multi-media

IN her latest work, Lu is looking at how we connect as human beings, using the theme that we are all cut from the same cloth.

“My installation consists of one long series of paper figures, all connected to each other, all cut out from the same roll of paper: More Alike Than Different,” she says.

Lu has had an unusual journey to where she is now as an artist. She worked for many years as an occupational therapist, but she always painted patterns for her own enjoyment and had a small business making rag rugs.

Lu Mason: Unusual journey

Fifteen years ago, she started making cut-paper mobiles, since when she has  enjoyed putting her work in public places in the form of installations, as well as creating mobiles using Perspex shapes over the past year.

“I make site-specific work, in collaboration with clients,” she says. “I’m interested in doing installations, residencies and workshops and I’m now producing a range of brooches made out of Perspex too.”

Lu was one of the 2020 York Open Studios multimedia bursary recipients in a scheme set up to enable artists to create experiences such as digital works, installations, films or performances for the annual event. Take a look at madebylumason.weebly.com.

Andre, by Nick Kobyluch

Nick Kobyluch, drawing

NICK’S pen and ink drawings explore line, form and colour through both landscape and portraiture work, most of his final pieces originating from drawings initially done in his sketchbooks.

Born in Bradford, he moved to London to work as a freelance illustrator for design, editorial and advertising clients, from the Observer and the National  Lottery to Barclays Bank and Oxford University Press, after completing his BA in graphic design at Hull College of Art in the 1980s.

Over the years, he has moved away from commercially commissioned work to pursue his own interests in drawing, motivated by a desire to experiment and evolve as a line artist, favouring the pen, “the most unforgiving of mediums”, over pencil and charcoal.

Nick Kobyluch: Motivated by a desire to experiment

The urban environment inspires Nick. “I love cities and the way they represent in complex physical form the many ways we interact as individuals and as a society,” he says. “It’s all there in the odd juxtapositions, hidden corners and strange compromises.”

He names Frans Masereel, George Grosz, Edward Bawden, Eric Ravillious, Richard Diebenkorn and David Gentleman as artists he “comes back to time and again”. “All share a mastery of line and form,” he says.

This would have been his first year as a York Open Studios exhibitor: the latest affirmation of his desire to “keep moving forward” as an artist. Contact him via nickkobyluch2@gmail.com.

Hole Of Horcum, by Michelle Hughes

Michelle Hughes, printmaking

MICHELLE is a printmaker and graphic designer, creating linocut prints inspired by nature and the great British countryside.

“I love exploring the countryside by bike or on foot, camera in hand, capturing ideas for my next prints,” she says.

Once back in her garden studio, Michelle makes simple but stylised silhouettes based on her photographs, then cuts these shapes into lino. She hand-prints with an etching press, using oil-based inks to create tonal blocks of colour.

Michelle Hughes: Artist and workshop tutor

For 25 years, Michelle designed homeware and fashion ranges for large corporate companies such as Disney, George Home at Asda, Arcadia and Shared Earth. In June 2016, she took the leap of faith to set up her own business, initially in graphic design, then printmaking, bringing together her love of craft, photography, colour, nature and exploring.

“I’ve always loved working with my hands and making things,” says Michelle, who also holds workshops in her Holgate studio. “I like the spontaneity of making marks with the tools, the quality of line and the graphic style of the final print. It enables me to distil the landscape down into simple lines.” 

Michelle has designed a series of a dozen linocuts, A Landscape Speaks, for the National Trust property Sutton Hoo in Suffolk. Learn more at michellehughesdesign.com/.

Oil on canvas by Lucy McElroy

Lucy McElroy, painting

AFTER 15 years as an art teacher, Lucy balances her time between the “joys and challenges of being a mother, teaching part-time at All Saints RC School and spending time developing her own practice in her home studio”.

“Traditional techniques enable me to create a true likeness of my subjects, while exploring ways to capture beautiful and emotive moments on paper and canvas,” says Lucy, who studied fine art at the University of Leeds. 

Lucy McElroy: Capturing beautiful and emotive moments

She works in pencil, pastel, charcoal and oil on canvas and finds time for a few portrait commissions each year, undertaken in between her own creative projects.

This would have been the first year that Lucy had participated in York Open Studios. View her work at lucymcelroy.co.uk.

The Blue Bell, in Fossgate, York, one of 30 new works Ian Cameron made for York Open Studios 2020

Ian Cameron, painting

IAN’S artwork is created using crayon wax rubbings, vibrant Brusho-coloured washes and Indian ink drawings, embellished with collage and watercolours to create a multi-layered effect.

“I love to draw in my sketchbook,” he says. “I usually draw with a black gel pen and often use watercolours. Sometimes I rub over embossed surfaces such as manhole covers with a wax crayon and then paint over with a colour wash to create a resist effect. The final picture has a great deal of depth brought about by the different layers or levels.”

Ian Cameron in the wooden studio he built in his garden

Ian developed an interest in art “quite late in life”, at 50 to be precise, in 2003 when he attended GCSE Art evening classes. A-level studies and an art and design foundation course at York College ensued.

2020 was to have been his seventh year in York Open Studios, exhibiting 30 new works created in the wooden studio he built in his back garden. For more info, visit ifcameron.tumblr.com.

TOMORROW: Fran Brammar; Geraldine Bilbrough; Ruth Claydon; Jacqueline James and Jean Drysdale.