Christopher, Emily and Amy Stubbs exhibit together for first time at Pyramid Gallery

“Coming together now to showcase our work as a family is incredibly special,” says PICA Studios cereamicist Emily Stubbs

FAMILY artistry unites in Stubbs3 – Canvas, Clay and Cloth, a unique exhibition by sisters Emily Stubbs and Amy Stubbs, regular participants in York Open Studios, and their West Yorkshireman father, Christopher Stubbs, at Pyramid Gallery, York, from June 15 to August 3.

All three will attend Saturday’s launch at Terry Brett’s gallery in Stonegate in a Meet The Artists reception from 12 noon to 2pm.

Their first-ever joint showcase brings together diverse artistic media in a celebration of family creativity. Contemporary ceramicist Emily Stubbs works from PICA Studios, in Grape Lane; Amy specialises in textile and surface pattern design in a range of homeware and wearable art; Christopher, from Hepworth, will be exhibiting framed paintings and sketches.

Vessels, by Emily Stubbs, at Pyramid Gallery, York, from Saturday

“It’s incredibly rewarding to see my daughters continuing our family’s creative tradition,” says Christopher. “Exhibiting together is a wonderful experience, and it fills me with pride.”

Emily, who studied ceramics at Cardiff University, creates contemporary ceramic vessels that explore the relationship between colour, form and texture. Her work is characterised by the juxtaposition of contrasting elements, which she achieves through a process of sketching, drawing and collaging.

Emily’s ceramics are exhibited in galleries and events across Great Britain. In her latest exhibition, she will be showing a selection of abstract vessels.

Throughout the years, our work has clearly inspired one another,” says Amy Stubbs

“This exhibition is an exciting milestone for us,” she says. “Growing up immersed in Dad’s artwork profoundly inspired my creative journey. Studying an art foundation degree in Dewsbury, I realised my passion for ceramics.

“Amy, too, pursued her creative calling in textiles. Coming together now to showcase our work as a family is incredibly special.”

Amy, who studied at Falmouth University, combines manual print-making techniques with digital manipulation to create intricate surface patterns. Her work includes lampshades, cushions, silk scarves, other home furnishings and fashion accessories.

Cushions, by Amy Stubbs, on show at Pyramid Gallery from Saturday

Her designs are influenced by nostalgia and family heritage, reflecting a blend of traditional and contemporary style in her homeware and wearable art.

“Throughout the years, our work has clearly inspired one another,” says Amy. “We share a common language of mark-making and shapes, with a vibrant love of colour that resonates across all our pieces.”

Christopher is a seasoned artist with a multifaceted career since leaving school at 15 and working in engineering and textiles before transitioning to psychiatric nursing. He later studied fine art at Huddersfield College of Art, where he was influenced by the great masters and the importance of observation under the tutelage of William Cowper.

“Exhibiting together is a wonderful experience, and it fills me with pride,” says Christopher Stubbs

Further honing his skills in printmaking at Leeds Polytechnic, he drew inspiration from renowned artists such as Henri Matisse, Picasso and Willem de Kooning.

Over his career, Christopher has created works for such clients as J P Morgan, Royal Mail and British Steel and he has been the director of his own design company, alongside wife Joy, for more than 30 years.

Stubbs3 – Canvas, Clay and Cloth, Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, June 15 to August 3. Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm; Saturdays, 10am to 5.30pm.

Untitled, by Christopher Stubbs, from Stubbs3 – Canvas, Clay and Cloth

More Things To Do in York and beyond as temperatures drop and festive fervour rises. Hutch’s List No.49, from The Press, York

The Gesualdo Six, with director Owain Park, centre, back row: Two concerts in one evening at NCEM

CHRISTMAS music, Scrooge the farmer, artist fairs and pantomime frolics set up Charles Hutchinson for the festive season ahead.

Festival of the week: York Early Music Christmas Festival, today until December 9

YORK Early Music Christmas Festival 2023 takes the theme of Music, Minstrels and Mystery, with today’s concerts by Flutes & Frets (Bedern Hall) and The Gesualdo Six & Fretwork Viol Consort (NCEM) having sold out already.

So has December 9’s finale, the Yorkshire Bach Choir’s Bach Christmas Oratorio (Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall), but tickets are still available for The Harmonious Society of Tickle-Fiddle Gentlemen, Fiddlesticks, The Marian Consort, Ceruleo and Baroque In The North. For concert details and tickets, visit Box office: 01904 658338.

James Lewis-Knight and Emily Chattle in a scene from Badapple Theatre Company’s Farmer Scrooge’s Christmas Carol. Picture: Karl Andre

Tour opening of the week: Badapple Theatre Company in Farmer Scrooge’s Christmas Carol, until December 30

A GRUMPY farmer? From Yorkshire? Surely not! Welcome to Kate Bramley’s rural revision of Dickens’s festive favourite, A Christmas Carol, now set on Farmer Scrooge’s farm and in his bed in 1959 in Green Hammerton company Badapple Theatre’s tour of Yorkshire and beyond.

York actors James Lewis-Knight and Emily Chattle play multiple roles in a tale replete with local stories and carols, puppets and mayhem, original songs by Jez Lowe and a whacking great dose of seasonal bonhomie. For tour dates and ticket details, visit: or call 01423 331304.

South Bank Studios artist Carolyn Coles: Taking part in this weekend’s Christmas Artists Trail

Artists with Christmas in mind: South Bank Studios Christmas Artists Trail, hosted by South Bank Studios, Bishopthorpe Road, York, today and tomorrow, 10am to 4pm

JOIN artists, illustrators and makers in the South Bank area of York for a weekend of festive cheer and a chance to visit artists’ houses and studios. For sale will be paintings, illustrations, ceramics, textiles, cards and gifts.

Taking part: Jill Tattersall, at 11 Mount Parade, today and tomorrow; Marie Murphy, 38, Scarcroft Road, today; Donna Maria Taylor, Carolyn Coles, Karen Winship, Rebeca Mason (11am to 4pm, in the loft), Katie Hill (outside) and Rachel Jones (outside) at South Bank Studio, today only.

Other art events happening in York over the weekend will be PICA Studios’ open studio, in Grape Lane, today and tomorrow, 10am to 5pm, and Rogues Atelier’s open studio, in Fossgate, today and tomorrow, 10am to 5pm.

Damion Larkin: Hosting Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club at The Basement

Comedy gig of the week: Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club, The Basement, City Screen Picturehouse, York, today, 5pm and 8pm

ESSEX comedian Markus Birdman headlines Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club’s brace of Basement gigs today. Joining him will be Tal Davies, Hasan Al-Habib and promoter/master of ceremonies Damion Larkin.

In 2022, Birdman suffered a stroke and ended up with a platinum heart, the subject of his Platinum Tour show. This year he was a semi-finalist on Britain’s Got Talent. Box office:

Nina Cumin, left, Jonathan Sage and Kate Ledger: York Late Music concert of Anthony Gilbert works tonight

York Late Music: Micklegate Singers, After Byrd, today, 1pm; Nina Kumin, Jonathan Sage and Kate Ledger, 7.30pm, both at Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, York

MICKLEGATE Singers bring together three anniversaries, Byrd, Rachmaninov and Thomas Weelkes, in a lunchtime musical sandwich of more than 500 years of a cappella choral music.

In the evening, Nina Kumin, violin, Jonathan Sage, clarinet, and Kate Ledger, piano, mark July’s death of Anthony Gilbert by performing four of the British composer’s works, plus music by Nicola LeFanu and David Lumsdaine, who both knew him well. Box office: or on the door.

Kirk Brandon: Fronting Spear Of Destiny at The Crescent

40th anniversary gig of the week: Spear Of Destiny, The Crescent, York, Wednesday, 7.30pm

FORTY years on from Epic Records’ release of Spear Of Destiny’s debut album, The Grapes Of Wrath, Kirk Brandon leads his punk-influenced power rock band on a 17-date November and December tour.

On the back of American travels, Brandon will be performing with his longest-serving line-up:  Adrian Portas (New Model Army/Sex Gang Children), Craig Adams (Sisters Of Mercy/The Cult/The Mission) and Phil Martini (Jim Jones And The Righteous Mind), bolstered by Clive Osborne on saxophone and Steve Allen-Jones on keys. Support comes from former Simple Minds bassist Derek Forbes & The Dark. Box office:

Kate Rusby: Showcasing her new Christmas album, Light Years, at York Barbican on Thursday

Festive folk gig of the week: Kate Rusby, Established 1973 Christmas Tour, York Barbican, Thursday, 7.30pm

BARNSLEY folk nightingale Kate Rusby marks turning 50 on Monday with the release of her seventh Christmas album, Light Years, and an accompanying tour that opens in York.

In the company of her regular band, coupled with the added warmth of the Brass Boys, Kate combines carols still sung in South Yorkshire pubs with her winter songs and favourite Christmas chestnuts. Look out for the fancy dress finale. Box office:

Rowntree Players having a ball in rehearsal for Cinderella

Pantomime opening of the week: Rowntree Players in Cinderella, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, December 9 to 16, except December 11

HOWARD Ella directs Rowntree Players in a rollicking romp of a pantomime, wherein Cinderella and Buttons are fighting to save the Windy End Hotel when the Queen announces a ball to celebrate Prince Charming’s birthday.

Trouble is brewing with the arrival of a “truly horrific trio”, determined to find themselves a prince. Expect song, dance, all the traditional silliness…and a mad rush for the last few tickets for all performances. Box office: 01904 501935 or

Billie Marten: Dropping into The Crescent with her Drop Cherries album. Picture: Katie Silvester

Recommended but sold out already

RIPON singer-songwriter Billie Marten, now based in London, returns home to Yorkshire to showcase her fourth album, Drop Cherries, on which she explores the struggle with modernity versus tradition, nature, mental health, relationships and “a general voyeurism on the world as she sees it”. Clara Mann supports.

More Things To Do in and around York as festivals open and half-term attractions beckon. List No. 84, courtesy of The Press

Fourmidable: York children’s entertainer Josh Benson will perform four Just Josh shows a day at the York Spring Fair and Food Festival

BIG beards, food and funfairs galore, Irish whimsy, postcard art, tree theatre, Moronic music, female folk and a year’s notice of camp comedy catch Charles Hutchinson’s eye.

York Spring Festival and Food Fair, Clocktower Enclosure, York Racecourse, Knavesmire, York, running until June 5

IN its second year at York Racecourse, this event takes in the Platinum Jubilee long weekend celebrations to complement the 15 vintage funfair rides, food stalls,  live music and family entertainment, highlighted by the lighting of York’s Jubilee Beacon on Thursday evening.

Look forward to 6.30pm performances by York musicians Huge, The Y Street Band, Hyde Family Jam and New York Brass Band, plus Wales’s Old Time Sailors.

Busiest of all will be York children’s entertainer, “balloonologist”, juggler and magician Josh Benson, performing his high-energy Just Josh show four times a day. Tickets:

Jorvik Viking Festival: Invading forces take over York city centre for five days. Picture: Charlotte Graham

Half-term festival of the week: Jorvik Viking Festival, York, today until Wednesday

NEARLY two and a half years after hordes of Viking warriors and settlers last descended on the city, York is ready for five days of Norse-themed fun and entertainment. 

Moved from February to fit into the summer half-term holiday, the 2022 festival sees the return of a living history encampment, March to Coppergate, Strongest Viking and Best Beard contests and Poo Day at DIG, as well as a new arena event this evening, The Jorvik Games. For full festival details and tickets, go to: See full preview below.

Furious romp: The poster for Dylan Moran’s We Got This tour, visiting York tonight

Comedy gig of the week: Dylan Moran, We Got This, Grand Opera House, York, tonight, 8pm

DROLL Irish comedian Dylan Moran promises a joyously furious romp through the frustration and folly of modern-day life in his new tour show.

“These times have not been easy,” he says. “Learn how to make breakfast not even knowing you are out of bed. Diagnose the mirror, reason with the mice and boil yoghurt blindfolded. Enjoy the fruits of hurtling cognitive decline and your neighbours’ sprawling ghastliness, absence of humanity and so, so much more.” Box office: 0844 871 7615 or

Postcards on the edge: Rows of original postcard artworks on sale at PICA Studios

Art event of the weekend: PICA Postcard Show and Sale, PICA Studios, Grape Lane, York, today and tomorrow, 10am to 4pm

THE artists at the PICA Studios workshop are branching out into one-off postcard artworks for one weekend only. Each postcard will sell for £25 to raise funds towards improving the studio space and to create a gallery in the foyer.

Taking part will be Lesley Birch, Evie Leach, Emily Stubbs, 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. Purchases also can be made online via instagram@picastudios. 

Badapple Theatre Company’s poster for Danny Mellor’s Yorkshire Kernel at Theatre@41

Family drama of the weekend: Badapple Theatre Company in Yorkshire Kernel, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, today, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

JAMES’S Grandad is at death’s door, but he has one last mission: to find a tree. Many trees in fact, scattered around the country in memory of his Second World War comrades. So begins writer, performer and puppeteer Danny Mellor’s play for Green Hammerton company Badapple.

Divided between being haunted by his plain-speaking grandfather, his mother rekindling her romance with an old flame, and James’s pregnant partner, Rosie, thinking he is cheating on her, Mellor’s “bonkers” solo show undertakes a journey of Yorkshire wit and grit through one man’s determination to leave a long-lasting legacy. Box office:

The Lovely Eggs: Playing The Crescent at the seventh attempt

Cracking gig of the week: The Lovely Eggs, supported by Arch Femmesis and Thick Richard, The Crescent, York, tomorrow, 7.30pm

PROUDLY independent northern psychedelic punk rock duo The Lovely Eggs do not give up. After re-scheduling the tour to promote April 2020’s release of their I Am Moron album seven times, they play The Crescent at last this weekend.

Iggy Pop, no less, contributed to their track I, Moron. “For him just to say nothing but ‘moron’ over and over again fitted in with the sentiment of the song perfectly,” says Lovely Egg Holly Ross. “He just got it. We are all morons. In a world of moronic things. In a world of moronic ideas. You are Moron. I am Moron. We are Moron.” OK, Morons and Eggheads, tickets are on sale at

Rachel and Becky Unthank: York Barbican debut on Tuesday, showcasing new songs from Sorrows Away

Folk gigs of the week: The Unthanks, Sorrows Away Tour, York Barbican, Tuesday, 7.45pm; Katherine Priddy, supported by George Boomsma, National Centre for Early Music, York, Wednesday, 7.30pm

RETURNING to touring after two years off the road, Northumbrian folk musicians The Unthanks will be previewing their upcoming autumn album Sorrows Away in their York Barbican debut with an 11-piece ensemble. Box office:

The following night at the NCEM, finger-picking guitarist and haunting singer Katherine Priddy performs enchanting songs on the theme of childhood, distant memories and whatever will follow next from last June’s debut album, The Eternal Rocks Beneath. Box office: 01904 658338 or

Katherine Priddy: Contemporary roots singer and guitarist, playing songs from The Eternal Rocks Beneath at the NCEM. Picture: Sam Wood

Gig launch of the week: Tom Allen, Completely, York Barbican, May 28 2023

YOU will have to wait 12 months for comedian, raconteur, arch television jester and radio presenter Tom Allen’s new show, Completely, to arrive in York. Tickets go on sale rather sooner, from 10am on Monday at

At 38, Bromley-born Allen has finally moved out of his parents’ house, prompting his eagerness to share his life updates, gain audience opinions on his vegetable patch and delve into the protocol of inviting friends with children for dinner.

On the distant horizon: Tom Allen’s newly announced York Barbican show is a full year away

Jorvik Viking Festival returns with more fun and games…

TENTS for an encampment are being set up in Parliament Street and screens installed at the Eye of York. Traders are transporting their wares to the Guildhall and St Sampson’s Square and a faint smell of mead is wafting through the air. Welcome to the return of the Jorvik Viking Festival.

Nearly two and a half years after hordes of Viking warriors and settlers last descended on the city, York is preparing for five days of Norse-themed fun and entertainment, starting today (28/5/2022).

Postponed from February to fit snugly into the half-term holiday before the Jubilee bank holiday, this year’s festival will see the return of such favourite events as a living history encampment, the March To Coppergate and the Strongest Viking and Best Beard contests, alongside a new arena event at 6.45pm this evening, The Jorvik Games.

“In February, our evening spectacular is usually a dramatic presentation of a Viking story, but with the evenings being so much lighter in May, our event will also be a little more fun,” says event manager Gareth Henry.

Viking warriors ready for a clash of styles

 “The Viking Games will pit the finest warriors from four teams against each other, with spectators invited to pick their champion and cheer them on to victory. Henry. Of course, being Vikings, they might not always play by the rules – and with their own horde of supporters behind them on the arena field, sparks will fly with skirmishes inevitable!”

Tickets for The Jorvik Games are still available, priced £15 for adults and £11 for concessions, with family tickets also available at

While Saturday will be the festival’s busiest day, visitors from Sunday to Wednesday will enjoy a host of events and activities too.  On Sunday, at 29/31 Coney Street, visitors can meet Vikings from all over Europe, brought together under the Erasmus scheme, including fun crafting activities. 

Young warriors can hone their skills in Have-A-Go Sword sessions on the Parliament Street stage and the Ting Tang re-enactors will bring theatre to the stage every day too.

Five go Viking in York for five days

The last few places remain on crafting workshops taking place Monday to Wednesday at York Medical Society, on Stonegate, including Nalebinding (Viking knitting), Trichinopoly (wire weaving) and tablet weaving.

On Wednesday, Jorvik’s sister attraction, DIG in St Saviourgate, will host the ever-popular Poo Day, a chance for children (and adults!) to try their hand at making a replica Viking poo, based on the world-famous Lloyds Bank Coprolite (fossilised poo, should you be wondering). 

Jorvik Viking Centre’s exhibition of items from the Silverdale Hoard, on loan from Lancashire County Museums, is also expected to be popular, with tickets for the attraction selling out for many time slots throughout the half-term break. 

“With good weather forecast for the weekend, we’re expecting York to be particularly busy, so would urge visitors to pre-book their tickets wherever possible to avoid disappointment,” says Henry.

Full details of all Jorvik Viking Festival events can be found at

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

How artist Lesley Birch spent 21 days in isolation after York Open Studios shutdown

Perfect Day Crocs: One of Lesley Birch’s 21 Days In Isolation artworks in oil, inspired by Cornwall, in harmony with her paint-spattered choice of footwear and garden pebbles

YORK Open Studios 2020 must be York Shut Studios 2020 instead, after the Government’s orders to stay home put paid to visiting other people’s homes.

In the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, however, York’s resourceful artists and craft makers are still finding ways to share their wares, whether online in the Virtual Open Studios showcase at, on their own websites or by filling their windows with artworks.

This weekend, as with last weekend, 144 artists would have been exhibiting and working at 100 locations, among them landscape painter Lesley Birch at her home studio in Clifton Place, York.

Far from downing brushes, she decided to undertake the one-off 21 Days In Isolation Project, her progress documented on Instagram, #lesleybirch21days.

Lesley’s latest paintings for her Romantic Landscapes series hanging up to dry in her home studio

“I set about the project almost immediately at lockdown,” says Scottish-born Lesley. “I’d always thought about filming my painting in a time-lapse and had never got around to it.

“So, I set up the clamp and my camera on my easel and away I went. The first few time-lapses worked out well. Then I thought, ‘why not do this for 21 days? – a time-lapse a day and a painting a day – and see what happens’.  

“Why 21 days? Well, that just came into my head, but I realise that was actually the initial lockdown time [set by the Government], so it must have gone in subconsciously.”  

Setting her artistic boundaries for the project, Lesley decided to work in oils. “I’ve been trying to develop my skills in this medium, and I decided to base the paintings on my trips to Scotland and Cornwall, working from my sketchbooks,” she says. 

Artist Lesley Birch, pictured in the studio in earlier times before 21 Days In Isolation

“I filmed a painting every morning, because the light was good, and painted into the afternoons. Every day I had a fantastic routine: breakfast; set up the oil palette and paper. Ensure camera OK. Then away!

“Morning break coffee and assessment of the painting. Another painting maybe. Lunch. Then photographing the paintings and uploading them to my Instagram feed.”

Under the #artistsupportpledge initiative set up by artist Matthew Burrows, Lesley could sell her 21 Days works as part of the pledge. “The deal was if I reached £1,000 worth of sales, I’d buy another artist’s work. So really, it was artist supporting artists – worldwide.”

Lesley worked from her studio in her garden. “Usually it’s for printmaking and large acrylic paintings, so it was a change to restrict myself to oils. I had to gather my materials from PICA studios in town [in Grape Lane], bring them home and order paper and new oils online”.

Lesley assessing the first few days’ work on the studio floor

How did the working experience contrast with Lesley’s painting trips to Italy, Spain, Cornwall and Scotland? “I wasn’t feeling the wild wind or soft sun on my skin and I wasn’t by the sea, so I used my sketchbooks as inspiration. And my head. I revisited these beautiful places in my head. It was great!” she says.

Painting at home contrasted too with the busy environment at PICA, a shared space where others work around her. “I was alone…with my IPod music – I’m not I’m not sure my music is to their taste!” says Lesley, a former musician with Hue & Cry in the 1980s.

“My PICA friends commented on Instagram on what I was doing, so there was still that support. And I chatted to my studio mate Mark [fellow artist Mark Hearld] most days on the phone.”

What did Lesley learn about herself as an artist working in isolation? “I think many artists already work in isolation – and indeed, this is the way I worked before I got together with the PICA crowd,” she says.

Such A Rugged Day, memories of Scotland, by Lesley Birch, from the 21 Days In Isolation Project

“So, I just reverted back to that way of working: alone, with my music. I challenged myself with the focus; I never thought I’d be able to create so many pieces.”

Comparing how she felt on Day 1 and Day 21 of her “mammoth task”, Lesley says: “Well, Day 1 was a bit of an exploration. I had no idea that I was planning going on for 21 days until the end of Day I, where I felt exhilarated and in no doubt that I could produce one or more paintings each day.

“By Day 21, I was utterly exhausted. The creative energy to ensure I was happy with each piece was a challenge. The Instagram messaging system went mental with paintings selling in seconds by the last few days! I even had to send one to New Zealand.

“I was collecting addresses, bank transfers, and then I had to go online and order a whole lot of packaging for sending out the paintings, which still had to dry. I was overwhelmed.”

Pale Green Sea on the easel  as Lesley painted in isolation

Lesley had decided to sell her uplifting landscape paintings at only £120 a pop, including shipping, “because we are in difficult times at the moment and everyone should have a chance to buy original art”.

“I’ve really enjoyed painting in the alla prima style [a direct painting approach where paint is applied wet on wet without letting earlier layers dry] and plan to create a new collection,” she says.

“Will there be more paintings from 21 Days In Isolation? Yes, though not on a daily basis. My 21 days are over. I feel on a bit of a roll at the moment, but I don’t want to put myself under the pressure of daily filming, so I’m just gonna take my time. These paintings will be more of the same as I have lots more sketchbooks for inspiration.”

More of Lesley’s new Romantic Landscapes paintings pegged out to dry on her studio washing line

She is calling the series her Romantic Landscapes. “That’s how this series seems to have developed in the time of Covid-19. I want an idealised view of reality,” Lesley reasons. “I think at the moment people want to escape into nice things: beautiful colours, soft skies and even a storm or two in a painting isn’t too bad.

“I know I want to escape, so I’m just following my intuition.  These paintings will probably go to my galleries, but a small collection will go online for sale.”

As for how Lesley will spend this weekend, she concludes: “York Open Studios has been in my head this past week and I shall continue to be creative.” 

Did you know?

After the cancellation of York Open Studios 2020, Lesley Birch is putting a selection of her YOS pieces online at at £200 each, framed and ready to hang.

Copyright of The Press, York

York artist Lesley Birch responds to the Forces Of Nature in Glyndebourne show

York artist Lesley Birch at work in her studio

YORK artist Lesley Birch will exhibit at Glyndebourne, the Sussex opera house home to the Glyndebourne Festival, from May to December.

“I’m very proud to have been invited,” she says. “It’s a huge privilege and rather daunting too. I’m working on pieces now.”

Lesley has been chosen for the Forces Of Nature exhibition of paintings, prints and ceramics in Gallery 94, located by the stalls entrance to the auditorium at the country house in Lewes, East Sussex.

Curated by Nerissa Taysom, the exhibition was inspired by the strong women on stage in this year’s upcoming six festival operas, so all ten artists will be women. 

Exhibiting alongside Lesley will be Michele Fletcher, Tanya Gomez, Rachel Gracey, Kathryn Johnson, Rosie Lascelles, Kathryn Maple, Tania Rutland, Katie Sollohub and Hannah Tounsend.

The Old Town, by Lesley Birch, part of her Marks & Moments exhibition at Partisan, York

Forces Of Nature will explore how artists represent their feelings or memories of natural phenomena, its forms and sounds, while questioning how we confront nature in an age of climate change.

Lesley works out of PICA Studios, the artist collective in Grape Lane, York, and in this typically busy year, her new Marks & Moments paintings can be savoured at Partisan, the boho restaurant, café and arts space in Micklegate, York, in a feast of colour and imagination until March 31.

Filling two floors, more than 50 paintings are on view, ranging from Lesley’s Musical Abstract Collection – large canvases expressing music and movement in nature – to little gouache gems created en plein air in the remote village of Farindola in Abruzzo, Italy.

“Partisan is a sort of emporium full of collectable stuff, such as vintage lamps and the like, and it’s so exciting to see my paintings in this bohemian setting, reflected off the old French mirrors and hung high and low,” says Lesley, whose works are divided into colour and spring moods upstairs and dramatic landscapes downstairs. All paintings are for sale.

Forces Of Nature at Glyndebourne: Artist open houses, Sunday, May 17, 10am to 1pm, open to the public; May 21 to December 13, festival and tour ticket holders only.