York Shakespeare Project launches phase two with January auditions for Richard III UPDATED 4/1/2022

York Shakespeare Project in The Tempest in Autumn 2022. A new chapter will open in springtime

DR Daniel Roy Connelly is to direct the first production of York Shakespeare Project’s second cycle of Shakespeare plays.

As was the case when YSP began its 20-year mission to present all the Bard’s works with the October-November 2002 production of Richard III at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, so Richard of York’s winter of discontent will be the opening play once more, this time at Friargate Theatre from April 26 to 29.

Dr Connelly, a newcomer to York, will be at the helm, having directed in places as diverse as Shanghai, Rome, America and the Edinburgh Festival.  

This former British diplomat, theatre director, actor, poet and professor will hold auditions at Southlands Methodist Church, in Bishopthorpe Road, on January 10 and 11, from 6.30pm to 9.30pm, and January 14, 2pm to 5pm.

Those interested are asked to fill out the form below to secure an audition slot: https://forms.gle/T4F7Q7aHJCFAqnWe8

Dr Daniel Roy Connelly: Director of York Shakespeare Project’s 2023 production of Richard III

“If you want to audition, but these dates don’t suit, please indicate on the form and we will see what we can do,” advises YSP’s Facebook notice.

Richard III will be one of two YSP productions at the 2023 York International Shakespeare Festival. Auditions for a semi-staged version of Shakespeare’s narrative poem The Rape Of Lucrece, directed by Liz Elsworth, will take place in late-January.

This autumn, YSP completed its goal of performing all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays with its 35th production and first tour: Philip Parr’s production of The Tempest, whose travels concluded at York Theatre Royal on October 1.

YSP begins a new chapter in 2023 with a 25-year project to stage not only those plays again, but also the best works by his contemporaries.

“This expanded remit allows both for a new generation-spanning mission to perform the whole canon of Shakespeare’s works, alongside a wider vision of celebrating and sharing Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre with new audiences,” says YSP.

Five artists, three venues, one Winter Artists Open House in South Bank studios on Saturday for Christmas presents

Everything Means Something, photographic collage, by Claire Morris

FIVE York artists are opening studio spaces on Saturday from 11am to 4pm for early Christmas shopping opportunities at three South Bank locations.

“The Winter Artists Open House is a chance to support the city’s independent artists and maybe buy unique greetings cards, a print or eye-catching original artwork,” says participating painter Kay Dower. “All venues are within walking distance of each other with parking available.”

Reflections Of York, acrylic, by Kay Dower

At Kay’s Corner Gallery, at 2 Telford Terrace, YO24 1DQ, a selection of her artworks will be complemented by photographic collages by Claire Morris. Kay will be displaying original acrylic paintings and limited-edition prints of corners of York, the Yorkshire coast and quirky still-life objects, from Yorkie chocolate bars to York Gin bottles.

Claire will be decking the walls with her latest collection of fine-art photographs inspired by vintage books, for which she cuts the characters out of books, then dramatically lights and stages the shot so that the figures appear to jump off the page.

Wizard, photographic montage, by Claire Morris

Kate Buckley’s sculptural ceramics and Marie Murphy’s modern, geometric paintings, prints and illustrations can be found at 31 Wentworth Road, YO24 1DG. Kate’s porcelain is described as “origami meets porcelain”; indeed, seeing is believing in the way her elegant wall sculptures play with light and shadow. Marie uses flat blocks of colour and striking angles to produce a serene sense of calm in her urban landscapes.

At mixed-media artist Jill Tattersall’s Wolf At The Door studio, at 15 Cygnet Street, YO23 1AG, she works with paints, inks and dyes on handmade paper to create vivid, dreamlike art. Please note, the entrance to Cygnet Street is by the back gate on Nunthorpe Road.

A sculptural ceramic by Kate Buckley

Among Jill’s works will be a newly framed recycled cedarwood block depicting sunset and wind turbines. “It’s just stunning to me,” she said on rainswept Tuesday (15/11/2022). “It’s a miserable day but this little painting gleams in the gloom. It will be on display at my Open House this weekend, from my Waste Not series, which I always make as affordable as possible.”

Looking forward to the weekend eagerly, Kate says: “Enjoy a winter wander around the varied selection of art on offer by York artists and get some inspiration for your Christmas list.

“As well as art to peruse, there’ll be refreshments available at the South Bank Studios Art & Craft Winter Fair, running at Southlands Methodist Church, in Bishopthorpe Road, from 10am to 5pm on the same day, or at the independent cafés and eateries on Bishopthorpe Road.”

The poster for Saturday’s Winter Artists Open House in South Bank, York

Looking for More Things To Do in York and beyond? I got you, babe. Time to share Hutch’s List No. 105, courtesy of The Press

Made for Chering: Millie O’Connell’s Babe, left, Debbie Kurup’s Star and Danielle Steers’ Lady in The Cher Show: A New Musical. Picture: Matt Crockett

FROM Cher times three and Charlie and that chocolate factory, to G&S and Oliver!, musical entertainment dominates Charles Hutchinson’s diary.

Cher, Cher and Cher alike: The Cher Show: A New Musical, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm; 2.30pm, Wednesday and Saturday

TURNING back time, Millie O’Connell’s Babe, Danielle Steers’s Lady and Debbie Kurup’s Star share out the Cher role in The Cher Show, the story of the American singer, actress and television personality’s meteoric rise to fame as she flies in the face of convention at every turn.

This celebration of the “Goddess of Pop” and “Queen of Reinvention” packs in 35 hits, I Got You Babe, If I Could Turn Back Time, Strong Enough, The Shoop Shoop Song, Believe et al. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

Oliver at the double: Fin Walker, left, and Zachary Pickersgill will be sharing the title role in NE’s production of Oliver!

Community musical of the fortnight: NE in Oliver!, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, November 16 to 19 and 22 to 26, 7.30pm; 2.30pm, Saturday matinees

NE, formerly NE Musicals York and soon to be renamed again, are performing a fortnight’s run for the first time, presenting Lionel Bart’s musical Oliver! in a revised version that complements the familiar songs and characters with added scenes to “bring the story to life in more detail”. 

Two teams of performers will be undertaking alternate performances, led by Zachary Pickersgill and Fin Walker, sharing the role of Oliver Twist, and Henry Barker and Toby Jensen’s Artful Dodger. Director Steve Tearle plays Fagin for the fourth time, joined in the production team by musical director Scott Phillips and choreographer Ellie Roberts. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Exhibition of the week: Lesley Seeger & Katherine Bree, Pigment & Stone, Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, in collaboration until November 27

Jewellery designer Katherine Bree, left, and artist Lesley Seeger in the North Yorkshire countryside

LESLEY Seeger and Katherine Bree form Yorkshire-London collaboration for the painting and gemstone show Pigment & Stone at Pyramid Gallery.

In a celebration of form and colour with an earthy elemental twist, city jewellery designer Katherine has chosen paintings by Huttons Ambo landscape painter Lesley as inspiration for her new collection of gemstone treasures.

Katherine divides her collections into the four elements – earth, air, fire and water – and this provides a perfect complement to Lesley’s elemental paintings, which she describes as “talismans that will reveal themselves over time with their rich histories of place, layers and colour”.

Love-struck at sea: Jack Storey-Hunter’s sailor Ralph and Alexandra Mather’s Josephine, the Captain’s daughter, in York Opera’s HMS Pinafore

Light opera of the week: York Opera in HMS Pinafore, York Theatre Royal, Wednesday to Saturday, 7.30pm; 2.30pm Saturday matinee

YORK Opera sets sail in Gilbert & Sullivan’s operetta HMS Pinafore or The Lass That Loved A Sailor, steered by a new command of stage director Annabel van Griethuysen and conductor Tim Selman.

The story follows Ralph (society newcomer Jack Storey-Hunter), a lovesick sailor, and Josephine (Alexandra Mather), the Captain’s daughter, who are madly in love but kept apart by social hierarchy. All aboard for such G&S favourites as We Sail The Ocean Blue, Never Mind The Why And Wherefore and When I Was A Lad. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory cast members in the rehearsal room at Leeds Playhouse. Picture: Johan Persson

Yorkshire’s big opening of the week: Charlie And The Chocolate Factory – The Musical, Leeds Playhouse, November 18 to January 28

CHOCK-A-BLOCK! Around 30,000 chocoholics have booked their golden ticket already for Leeds Playhouse’s winter musical spectacular, presented in association with Neal Street Productions and Playful Productions ahead of a British tour.

Songs such as The Candy Man and Pure Imagination from the film versions of Roald Dahl’s sweet-toothed adventure will be bolstered by new songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Gareth Snook’s Willy Wonka, Kazmin Borrer’s Veruca Salt and Robin Simoes Da Silva’s Augustus Gloop lead James Brining’s cast; Amelia Minto, Isaac Sugden, Kayleen Nguema and Noah Walton share the role of Charlie Bucket. Box office: 0113 213 7700 or leedsplayhouse.org.uk.

Chloe Latchmore: York Musical Society’s mezzo-soprano soloist for The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace at York Minster

Classical concert of the week: York Musical Society, The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace, York Minster, November 19, 7.30pm

YORK Musical Society’s dramatic performance of Sir Karl Jenkins’s powerful work The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace features full orchestra and soloists soprano Ella Taylor, mezzo-soprano Chloe Latchmore, tenor Greg Tassell and baritone Thomas Humphreys.

Jenkins’s work will be complemented by Joseph Haydn’s lyrical 1796 Mass In Time Of War – Missa In Tempore Belli, also known as Paukenmesse (Kettle Drum Mass in German), on account of its kettle drum solo. Box office: 01904 623568, at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk and on the door.

The poster for South Bank Studios’ Art & Craft Winter Fair at Southlands Methodist Church

Looking for Christmas presents? South Bank Studios Art & Craft Winter Fair, Southlands Methodist Church, November 19, 10am to 5pm

SOUTH Bank Studios’ winter fair assembles 28 artists and crafters, who will be displaying and selling their original artwork and creations, targeted at the Christmas market.

Browers and buyers alike can tour the 18 studios within the church building’s upper floors with a chance to meet assorted artists in situ. Entry is free and refreshments are available throughout the day.

Julie Madly Deeply: Sarah-Louise Young celebrating the life and songs of Dame Julie Andrews at Theatre@41. Picture: Steve Ullathorne

Truly scrumptious show of the week: Sarah-Louise Young in Julie Madly Deeply, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, November 20, 7.30pm

AFTER her glorious An Evening Without Kate Bush, Fringe favourite Sarah-Louise Young returns to York with her West End and Off-Broadway smash in celebration of “genuine showbiz icon” Dame Julie Andrews.

Fascinating Aida alumna Young’s charming yet cheeky cabaret takes a look at fame and fandom by intertwining Andrews’ songs from Mary Poppins, The Sound Of Music and My Fair with stories and anecdotes of her life, from her beginnings as a child star to the challenges of losing her singing voice, in a humorous, candid love letter to a showbusiness survivor. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Strictly between them: Ten – yes ten, count’em – Strictly Come Dancing professionals will be sashaying their way to York Barbican next May

Hot ticket of the week: Get a move on for Strictly Come Dancing – The Professionals, York Barbican, May 12 2023

 HURRY, hurry! The last few tickets are still on sale for a spectacular line-up of ten professional dancers from the hit BBC show: Strictly professionals Dianne Buswell; Vito Coppola; Carlos Gu; Karen Hauer; Neil Jones; Nikita Kuzmin; Gorka Marquez; Luba Mushtuk; Jowita Przystal and Nancy Xu.

“Don’t miss your chance to see these much-loved dancers coming together to perform in a theatrical ensemble that will simply take your breath away,” says the Barbican blurb. Box office: ticketmaster.co.uk/strictly-come-dancing-the-professionals-2023-york.

More Things To Do in and around York as pioneering dating show is game for laughs and love. List No. 57, courtesy of The Press

Seasick Steve: Just him, his home-made guitar and you at York Barbican tonight

CHARLES Hutchinson recommends veteran blues at the double, quilts, a dating show, chaotic Hitchcockian comedy capers, a Brahms Requiem and a Geordie comic out to dazzle.

Solo show of the week: Seasick Steve, Just Steve, A Guitar And Your Tour, York Barbican, tonight, 8pm

LAST year, American DIY blues veteran Seasick Steve released two albums, July’s Love & Peace and November’s Blues In Mono, his tribute to trad acoustic country blues recorded with a microphone from the 1940s as Steve performed the songs direct to an old tape machine. 

Now, York-bound Steve says: “I‘m lookin’ forward to coming and playing for y’all. Just gonna be me, you and my guitar. A few songs and a few stories, kinda like we just hangin’ out together! Gonna be fun. See ya there.” Tickets update: limited availability at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Sanna Buck, Stephen Wright and Aran MacRae look on as a prone Daniel Boyle takes centre stage in rehearsal for York Settlement Community Players’ The 39 Steps. Picture: John Saunders

Play of the week: York Settlement Community Players in The 39 Steps, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, tonight until Sunday

PATRICK Barlow’s riotous West End comedy hit marks the Settlement Players’ return to live performance for the first time since March 2020.

Harri Marshall’s cast of eight takes on the challenge of combining John Buchan’s 1915 novel with Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 film scenes in a blend of virtuoso performance and wildly inventive stagecraft, playing 150 characters between them as the mysterious 39 Steps chase Aran MacRae’s Richard Hannay’s on a nationwide manhunt. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Hey, it’s The Manfreds: Playing the Grand Opera House, York, tonight

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be? It’s even better at Maximum Rhythm N’ Blues with The Manfreds and Georgie Fame, Grand Opera House, York, tonight, 7.30pm

THE Manfreds and Georgie Fame team up for a celebration of Sixties rhythm & blues in an all-star line-up with hits galore to match.

Original Manfred Mann members Paul Jones, Mike Hugg and Tom McGuinness are joined by Family’s Rob Townsend on drums, Marcus Cliffe on bass and Simon Currie on saxophone and flute, plus former member Mike D’Abo to share lead vocals, and Blue Flames leader Fame on keyboards. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Ready to dazzle: Sarah Millican kicks off a three-night run at York Barbican tomorrow

Three-night run of the week: Sarah Millican: Bobby Dazzler Tour, York Barbican, tomorrow to Sunday, 8pm

SOUTH Shields humorist Sarah Millican’s new show, Bobby Dazzler, is doing the rounds on her sixth international tour.

“You’ll learn about what happens when your mouth seals shut, trying to lose weight but only losing the tip of your finger, a surprisingly funny smear test, and how truly awful a floatation tank can actually be,” says Millican, who has “spent the last year writing jokes and growing her backside”. Tickets update: limited availability at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Masks, of the non-Covid protection variety, will be worn by participants in ventriloquist Nina Conti’s dating show. Picture: Matt Crockett

Game show of the week: Nina Conti: The Dating Show, Grand Opera House, York, tomorrow, 7.30pm

FAST-TALKING, faster-thinking ventriloquist Nina Conti and her cheeky Monkey host a pioneering new dating show for participants picked from the York audience.

What’s in store for the chosen ones? Apparently “she’ll be like Cilla Black with masks. Derailed. Not so much a Blind Date as a re-voiced one.” In a nutshell, they wear masks, she/Monkey talks, with no promise that true love will be found. Box office: atgtickets.com/york. 

Matthew Miller’s Golden Bird quilt from his Cloth & Colour installation at York Theatre Royal from Saturday

Exhibition launch of the week: Matthew Miller’s Cloth & Colour quilts, York Theatre Royal foyer, from Saturday to November 30

BASED in London, but from York, multi-media artist Matthew Miller launches his debut quilt installation in the first Beyond The Gallery Walls pop-up project to be mounted by Lotte Inch Gallery.

Artist Matthew and curator Lotte will be hosting the launch from 11.30am to 1.30pm on Saturday, happy to discuss his Cloth & Colour quilt designs. Interested in the ecological use of fabric in quilting, Matthew has used end-of-roll and pre-worn fabrics throughout his series of vibrant collages in cloth.

Alex Ashworth: Baritone soloist for Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem at Saturday’s concert by the Chapter House Choir. Picture: Debbie Scanlan

Classical choral concert of the week: Chapter House Choir, York Minster, Saturday, 7.30pm

THE Chapter House Choir performs Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem at York Minster in a rare opportunity to hear Brahms’s own arrangement written for piano – more intimate and transparent – with baritone Alex Ashworth, soprano Susan Young and pianists Eleanor Kornas and Polly Sharpe as the soloists.

This will be complemented by the world premiere of Lillie Harris’s Comfort, specially commissioned for Saturday’s concert. Box office: 01904 557200 or at yorkminster.org.

Open on Saturday: Carolyn Coles’s studio at South Bank Studios

Christmas shopping? Present opportunity at South Bank Studios’ Art & Craft Winter Fair, Southlands Methodist Church, Bishopthorpe Road, York, Saturday, 10am to 5pm

THE South Bank Studios artists’ group open their doors and studios to the public this weekend, when 28 artists will be exhibiting jewellery, ceramics, lino prints, textile art and fine art paintings and prints, all available to buy, just in time for Christmas. Entry is free.

Among those taking part are Carolyn Coles, Caroline Utterson, Jane Dignum, Lincoln Lightfoot, Richard Whitelegg, Mandi Grant and Fiona Lane. York Music Centre’s Senior Concert Band, Guitar Ensemble, Senior Folkestra and Big Band will be playing, and the icing on the cake will be the church team’s homemade refreshments.

Voila! C’est La Voix

Most glamorous show of the weekend: La Voix, Grand Opera House, York, Saturday, 7.30pm

FEISTY, flame-haired Royal Family favourite La Voix – the drag artiste creation of Chris Dennis – takes on the big divas and makes them her own in her Grand Opera House debut in The UK’s Funniest Redhead.

Billed as her “most glamorous show yet”, the 2014 Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist will be combining stellar songs and saucy gags, high energy and diva impersonations, glamour and gowns – eight of them – as she switches between the vocal tropes of Tina Turner, Shirley Bassey, Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland and Cher at the click of a finger. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Millie Manders and The Shutup: Definitely not shutting up at the Fulford Arms on Sunday night

Gig with attitude of the week: Millie Manders & The Shutup, Fulford Arms, York, Sunday, 8pm

MILLIE Manders & The Shutup spark up cross-genre punk with a lyricism that pokes fun, draws you in or leaves you questioning social norms, teamed to vocal dexterity, grinding guitars, irresistible horn hooks and a pumping rhythm section.

The Londoners will be airing songs from October 2020’s debut album, Telling Truths, Breaking Ties. Box office: seetickets.com/event/millie-manders.

Willy Mason: Nine-year gap after he made a record called Carry On, but carry on he does at last with Already Dead album and tour date in York. Picture: Ebru Wildiz

Overdue return of the week: Willy Mason, supported by Voka Gentle, The Crescent, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm; standing show

NEW York singer-songwriter and lovely chap Willy Mason returns with Already Dead, his fourth album of characterful, sharp left-field pop, folk and Americana but his first since 2012’s Carry On.

“Magic, miracles, ghosts, world leaders; these days it seems there’s little left to believe in,” says Mason. “Lies outweigh truth and even truth can be dangerous. 

“Already Dead explores honesty and deception, anonymity in the digital age, good intentions with unexpected consequences, freedom, colonialism, love, God and purpose, because now is the time to restore some much-needed faith.” Box office: thecrescentyork.seetickets.com/event/willy-mason.

Soft Cell: 40th anniversary home-coming concert in Leeds. Picture: Andrew Whitton

Oh, and amid all these York events, here is the gig of the week outside the city walls: Soft Cell, Leeds 02 Academy, Saturday, doors, 6pm

IN 1981, Leeds synth-pop pioneers Soft Cell topped the charts with their Northern Soul cover, Tainted Love. This weekend, they play a 40th anniversary home-coming gig with an early start, kicking off with a DJ from 6pm.

LGBTQ icon Marc Almond and producer/instrumentalist Dave Ball will play two sets: the first from 7pm embracing songs from their back catalogue and previewing their first album in 20 years, Happiness Not Included, out on BMG on February 25 2022.

In the second, from 8.20pm, they will perform 1981 debut album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret in full for the first time. Cue Say Hello, Wave Goodbye, Bedsitter, Memorabilia et al. Box office: myticket.co.uk/artists/soft-cell

Pandemic community art project is bubbling up at South Bank Studios…and hurry, hurry, there’s still time to take part

Bubbling up: A Year Of Change: My Bubble project leaders Donna Maria Taylor and Katie Hill at South Bank Studios with bubble artwork submissions for the community art exhibition. Picture: Carolyn Coles/ Nicola Lee

THE first cases of the Covid-19 virus in the UK were identified in a York hotel, and today marks one year since the first UK lockdown was announced with the Government advice to “avoid unnecessary social contact”.

Soon to follow was the Stay Home, Protect The NHS, Save Lives edict as lockdown kicked in March 23 2020.

A year on, Lockdown 3 has reinstated that mantra, and March 23 2021 brings a new deadline, in the form of the closing date for a pandemic community art project launched by South Bank Studios artists Donna Maria Taylor and Katie Hill on January 31 to “help people through lockdown and isolation”.

“Are you looking for an art project to do during lockdown,” they asked. “To mark this year, we’d like to invite our friends in York to take part.

“Even those of us lucky enough to have a studio outside of our homes have had to do much more work than usual at home, so we’d like to represent this by inviting you to make a small artwork at home on the theme of A Year Of Change: My Bubble.”

Bubble-shaped works must then either be delivered to Southlands Methodist Church letterboxes on either the Southlands Road or Nunmill Street entrances, marking the envelope FAO My Bubble, or posted to My Bubble  (South Bank Studios), Southlands Methodist Church, 97, Bishopthorpe Road, York, YO23 1NX.

The ever-expanding online exhibition is already up and running at southbankstudios.co.uk/onlinegallery, and a physical exhibition will follow at Southlands Methodist Church, once the lifting of lockdown restrictions permits the Covid-safe reopening of the church building.

“So that we can put all of the artworks together in 2D – and possibly 3D – forms for the physical exhibition, we’re asking that the artworks should be a specific size and shape,” say the organisers. “So the design must be contained within a circle, somewhere between 12cms and 21cms in diameter.”

For full details on how to take part in My Bubble, go to: southbankstudios.co.uk/art-project.

One of the bubbles for My Bubble. All the works are to be exhibited anonymously

Here, South Bank Studios community art project leaders Donna Maria Taylor and Katie Hill answer Charles Hutchinson’s questions on My Bubble:

What gave you the idea for this lockdown project, Donna?

“I decided I wanted to give something back. And being involved in a community art project was at the top of my ‘To Do’ list at the beginning of this year.

“For personal reasons, I wasn’t in a position to get involved in any of the projects many artists were getting involved in during the first lockdown: making masks, scrubs, painting portraits for NHS Heroes etc.

“I contacted Katie in mid-January to ask if she’d be interested in working with me on the project and we launched it by the end of that month.

“Since Katie had recently taken on the role of ‘studio rep’ for the loft studio spaces at South Bank Studios, she seemed like a good person to approach to work with on the idea. It’s always great to have others to work with on projects like this as you can throw ideas back and forth.

“Katie came up with the timescale idea, linked to the first Covid cases in York and the initial lockdown date [March 23] became the project’s deadline date. She also came up with the title ‘A Year Of Change’.

“We were originally looking at asking people to produce designs within squares but then the ‘My Bubble’ idea suddenly came to me in the middle of the night, as these things tend to do!

“It all happened quite quickly once the idea was formed, and since then we’ve been meeting on Zoom on a regular basis to discuss progress and look at different ideas on how we could promote the project. Our friends on social media have been brilliant at helping us to do that and we’re very grateful to them for that assistance.

“Initially we were going to limit the project to adults, but we soon realised that it would also give families a chance to do something creative together while they were stuck at home doing home schooling, so we opened it up to cover all age groups.”

What drew you to become involved in My Bubble, Katie?

“I’ve worked on a lot of community art projects in Leeds and only moved to York in January 2020, just before lockdown, so it’s been a strange time to arrive in a new city. This project was an opportunity to get involved in something with the local community, to get to know people and do something positive during a very challenging time for everyone.”

How many bubbles have come in so far?  How many do you anticipate exhibiting?

“We’ve had around 40 bubbles arrive so far and we’re expecting quite a few more will arrive in the next week – people love working to a deadline.

“We’ve been in touch with a number of groups in York who we hope will get involved, such as York Carers, York Mind and Refugee Action York, but we really don’t know how many we will receive until the deadline.

“We’d love to get 365, one per day of the year, but however many we get it will make a great exhibition.”

When will the exhibition open online and when might you hope to put the works on display at South Bank Studios?

“We’ve already set up an online exhibition on our website where we’re adding ‘bubbles’ as they come in. You can see it online at: https://www.southbankstudios.co.uk/onlinegallery.

“We’re also doing regular posts on our social media sites, and we’re planning to have an exhibition of all the ‘bubbles’ together at some point over the summer months and certainly hope to coincide this with the two York Open Studios weekends: July 10/11 and July 17/18.”

Why are community projects important to you?  Why are community projects important full stop?

Donna first: “I’ve always enjoyed working with other people and love to see all the original artwork that comes in when you ask people to get involved in something like this. I’ve been involved in many in the past – particularly in my association with York Learning – and in some ways it always amazes me how different the artwork produced is, although obviously I know it shouldn’t.

“Imagine if all the artwork that came in was exactly the same. Now that really would be worrying! I think projects such as this inspire people; they make them feel part of a whole and help to bring people together. Not to mention the huge therapeutic benefits that doing any sort of arts and crafts has on the health and wellbeing of individuals.

Katie: “The Covid crisis has highlighted many things, including the importance of connecting with your community, taking action to maintain your physical and mental wellbeing, and the value of creativity for mental health.

“Hopefully, this project brings those things together. Community projects are so important to create opportunities for people to connect with each other and to express themselves and their experiences.

“We were really aware that the last year has been a very mixed experience, with some severe hardship and distress, and as artists we really believe that doing something creative can help during challenging times.”

In a year of change, what changes have been for the better?

“It’s definitely been a time to get to know our local community and neighbours much better. We’ve also been able to connect online: as artists we’ve started to have regular online meetings, which has really transformed how the studios are run and the sense of community there.

“People have become more aware of local projects and businesses, plus there’s the huge environmental positives, of course.”

What changes have been for the worse?

“So many people have suffered in this last year. So many people have died, and so many have been separated from their loved ones for long periods of time.

“Some people have lost their livelihoods and it’s difficult to imagine how some of that will recover, including live music and theatre.

“Living with the anxiety of feeling vulnerable to a horrible virus for a year has been a huge challenge for mental health, particularly for young people, and for key workers. There have been many changes – some things will never be the same again.

“It’s certainly a historic time we’re living in and we’re grateful that we’ve been able to record this in some way.”

What challenges have been thrown at you as an artist and what have you learned over the past year about your artistic vision and practice?

Donna: “My theatre work has all dried up, of course. I’ve only actually had one theatre job in the last year. And all my teaching has moved online.

“Again, like everything, it seems there are positives and negatives. Not being able to get into the studios all the time has been strange, but the time the pandemic has afforded me has actually meant that I’ve had more time to experiment and move forward with my art, which I may not have been able to do otherwise.”

Katie: “I’m a lecturer and all of my teaching suddenly went online, which actually created a lot of time to do craft and artwork while talking on video calls.

Katie Hill preparing artworks for exhibit in A Year Of Change: My Bubble. Picture: Carolyn Coles/Nicola Lee

“In the first month of lockdown I crocheted three blankets and realised that I needed to find other things to do. I’ve started working in sketchbooks for the first time in years and am developing ideas for textile arts and surface pattern design.

“I’ve been taking lots of photos of leaves and flowers on my exercise walks, which I have then used as inspiration for artwork. I never used to go for walks at all, so that’s a huge change for me.

“I’ve also been able to learn some new techniques by attending online classes with artists all over the world. So, creatively it has been a time of huge growth for me.”

In what ways has South Bank Studios been able to connect with the community during lockdown?

“As well as setting up this community art project, we’ve started free online ‘Create and Chat’ sessions to help the studio and church community through lockdown and loneliness. We also ran a stall outside the studios before Christmas, as part of Planet South Bank’s Crafty Crawl, which was very successful.

“Our studios are housed within Southlands Methodist Church and the church does a lot of creative community projects too. They’ve just put a spring flower display in the church windows and had a community Christmas tree outside at Christmas time that people could add their own decorations and messages to.

“The church is also working on a community garden, which will be a great asset particularly if it continues to be safer to be outdoors. Maybe we can run some outdoor community art sessions in the summer.

“Another artist, Rebecca Mason, has also set up a fundraising page for Cancer Research, and our friends at Planet Food – who share the building on a Thursday – have continued to offer weekly support to members of our community through their zero food waste initiative.”

What is the symbolism of the circular shape for a piece of art in My Bubble?

“We wanted a format that would unify all of the artworks, so that people could do a range of art in different styles, but they would all fit together, so we knew we wanted everyone to do something that was the same shape.

“Obviously the ‘Bubble’ idea links to social bubbles in lockdown, so the circle fits with that idea too. We’ve received some gorgeous artwork so far: the circle idea is working really well.”

What pieces are you each doing for My Bubble?

Donna: “Mine will be based on a photograph I took on New Year’s Eve as I walked through the empty streets of York city centre in the early evening with my daughter. It was deserted and symbolises what York has been like throughout the various lockdowns.

“For those of us who live in York, we know that we’d usually find lots of revellers everywhere at this time on the evening of a New Year. It was quite eerie in a way.”

Katie: “Following on from my flower art from daily exercise walks, I’m drawing and painting a bubble full of plants and flowers, including plants that have connections to my friends and family.

“With much more time at home than usual, I’ve done a lot of work in my small garden and am enjoying growing plants that have been given to me by my family and friends over the years.

“It’s a way to feel connected to them when we can’t be together in person. For example, my front garden is full of pale pink Hesperantha that were given to me by my mother, from her garden, so I really think of her when I see them.

What are you both working on?

Donna: “I’m planning two new online classes,  Experimental Watercolours and Spring Sketchbooks, which I’ll be delivering on Zoom. Although most of my learners are based in York, I’m now also teaching people as far away as Edinburgh, Brighton and Herefordshire. I’m also workin on a new series for York Open Studios.”

Katie: “I started a full-time PhD in January at Northumbria University on Social Design, which is where we use design processes and design thinking to work with communities on social and environmental projects.

“I’m going to be doing a community project as part of it in 2022, so I’m planning that at the moment. I’m also teaching online: design history and theory, and employability skills for designers.”

Which South Bank Studios artists will be participating in York Open Studios in July?

“There’ll be seven of us exhibiting: Donna Maria Taylor, Carolyn Coles, Caroline Utterson. Colin Black, Nicola Lee, Rebecca Mason and Karen Winship. It’s definitely one of the highlights of this year for those of us who are taking part and we’ve been looking forward to it for a long time now. More details about the event can be found at: yorkopenstudios.co.uk.

“We’re also planning to have other events as the building opens up and we’re safely able to do so: further craft fairs, coffee mornings and art exhibitions/installations.

“As a studio community, we’ve lots of ideas for the future and very much look forward to things getting back to normal, so we can explore all the ideas that we do have, both within the studios themselves and also in the space in and around the building.”

Carolyn Coles: One of the South Bank Studios artists who will be taking part in York Open Studios at Southlands Methodist Church on two weekends in July

Where might we all be in a year’s time?

Donna: “This is a tricky one. Personally, I would imagine my theatre work will slowly come back, but I will certainly be continuing with my online classes for a while. I’d like to think that I could go back to some real-life teaching at some point too, but for now I’m just planning things a couple of months in advance.

“In many ways, as artists, we’re very lucky as we’re used to change and insecurity. Historically too, interesting/innovative art often comes from challenging situations and living through difficult times.

“Looking forward, I also like the idea of running further community art projects from South Bank Studios, so watch this space.

Katie: “It’s so hard to imagine. If you had said in March last year that we would still be in lockdown a year later, I would have found that difficult to believe, so that makes me think that progress will continue to be slow.

“I think we’ve experienced a huge and rapid change in our use of technology and those changes will stay with us, so in a year’s time we will still be doing a lot of work from home and online.

“I hope that as a community we will all be working on taking care of each other and healing some of the trauma caused by this year of the pandemic, and that we will continue to nurture our sense of community and our creativity.”

Submissions for A Year Of Change: My Bubble

A Year Of Change: My Bubble: how to take part

Submission deadline: Tuesday, March 23 2021

Exact requirements of your artwork:
Your design must be enclosed within a circle that is a minimum diameter of 12cms (the size of a CD) to a maximum diameter of 21 cms (the width of an A4 sheet of paper).

If your design is on a piece of paper, card or similar, please do not cut out the circle! Instead, leave it with at least a square around it.

“This is because we may join some ‘bubbles’ together to form a 3D display,” say the organisers. “You can decorate this area if you like but do be aware that it may have holes punched into it at a later date, or it may be cut off, depending on the final overall outcome. Therefore, please concentrate your main design within ‘the bubble’, which will not be tampered with.”

Your artwork must be lightweight enough to Blu Tack to a wall.

Your piece should be personal to you and inspired by your life in York during Covid-19 times. 

Donna and Katie are hoping for a range of responses but some of the ideas/themes you may wish to explore as initial lines of enquiry include: 

Neighbours; home school; working from home; loss; support for essential workers.

Or how about: hobbies and interests; walks or exercise regimes; your garden; view from you home; family & friends; specific objects that are important to you; home comforts; a close-up of a room in your house; your lockdown clothing/footwear?

You may use any medium you choose, so your artwork could be sewn, painted, drawn, collaged etc. Or you could use a mix of materials.

Important notice!

Only one entry per person.

Before submitting your artwork, you must ensure that you write the following information on the back (or write it on a separate sheet and include it as part of your submission):

Your name

Your age (if under 18)

A contact email address (PLEASE USE CAPITAL LETTERS)

A contact phone number

Your postcode

You may, if you wish, also write a short description about your piece/inspiration. Only a sentence or two will do but this is not absolutely necessary.

Where to deliver your artwork:

Please deliver you final piece through one of the letterboxes at Southlands Methodist Church, marking the envelope FAO: My Bubble. You will find the letterboxes at the Southlands Road and Nunmill Street entrances. 

Or post your finished artwork (making sure you add an appropriate stamp to cover the cost!) to:

“My Bubble” (South Bank Studios), Southlands Methodist Church, 97, Bishopthorpe Road York,  YO23 1NX.

If you are shielding and are unable to do either of the above, Donna and Katie can arrange to collect your artwork from your doorstep. Use this email address if this is the case: southbankstudiosyork@gmail.com


After submitting your My Bubble artwork, all correspondence will then be via email. In taking part in the project, you will be added to the South Bank Studio mailing list that has been set up so everything can be collated, keeping you up to date on progress so far and physical exhibition dates.

By taking part you are agreeing that you are happy for your name, email address and contact number to be on this list. You will be asked at the end of the project if you would like to be deleted from this list – or you can, of course, unsubscribe at any time by sending in an email. 

Website/Social Media:

Donna and Katie will publish the images of the artwork produced on the website southbankstudios.co.uk and associated social media accounts, but individual names and contact details will not be published.

Further details on the project can be found at: southbankstudios.co.uk/art-project. Facebook:.https://www.facebook.com/SouthBankStudiosYork

Instagram: @southbankstudiosyork


Donna and Katie’s exhibition plans:

“We are aiming to get 365 ‘bubbles’ to represent a year, but if we do not have enough entries by the deadline (March 23), we shall open it up, so there may be an opportunity for you to submit more than one piece after this date,” they say. “We will let you know via email if this is the case.”

Return of artwork:

Artwork will be available for collection after the exhibition has finished. You will be contacted via email to inform you of when it can be collected.

Additional information:  

If you would like any further information, or if you would like to take part in the project but do not have any materials, please contact Donna and Katie, who will do their best to help at: southbankstudiosyork@gmail.com.

Extra support if you need it:

Donna and Katie say: “We have designed this project in the hope that it will provide something positive for those who live within our city, although we appreciate that for some these times have been extremely challenging.

“Therefore, if you do feel like you need additional support in any way,we would encourage you to please reach out. Here is a really good link to the organisations and people in York who can help you and they are only a phone call or text away: https://www.livewellyork.co.uk/FeelRealYork.”

More bubbles than at a West Ham United home match…