Who are the NEW artists in 2021’s York Open Studios? Six in the city to seek out

Serious advice from Joanna Lisowiec in her lettering series

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 tomorrow’s preview evening, from 6pm to 9pm, 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 the week ahead, 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.

“Soothingly immersive”: Fiona Love’s art in her own words

Fiona Lane, painting, 8 Claremont Terrace, Gillygate, York

SELF-TAUGHT artist Fiona paints seascapes and landscapes, mostly on canvas.

“Most of my work is seas and trees,” she says. “I’m inspired by the beautiful and diverse Yorkshire countryside, which is so accessible to me.”

Favouring mixed media, she loves working with colour and light, creating pictures that she describes as “almost 3D” and “soothingly immersive”. 

“I prefer to paint outside,” says Fiona Lane, not least in her flower-filled courtyard

“I’m always developing my style,” she says. “I stretch and smooth paint which I apply with palette knives and brushes, adding details with other media. I prefer to paint outside, whether in the woods, by the sea or in my flower-filled York courtyard.”

Fiona will be taking part in tomorrow’s preview evening.

Creating textile designs is a form of meditation for Ealish Wilson

Ealish Wilson, textiles, PICA Studios, Grape Lane, York, second weekend only

TEXTILE designer Ealish has lived and worked in many places around the world, spending 15 years in the USA before making her way to York and joining the PICA Studios arts hub.

However, Japan was where her work was transformed. “Japan taught me that art exploration and practice is a lifelong journey from which we constantly learn,” she says.

“Experience informs the creative process over time, enhancing and developing an artist’s expression. It’s about seeing creativity in the everyday.”

She brings this philosophy to making her sculptural textiles, using a variety of substrates and techniques, including print, drawing, photography and stitching.

Ealish Wilson’s artistic philosophy: “Seeing creativity in the everyday”

“I repeat this process to create multiple iterations and layers to my designs,” she says. “Much of my process investigates pattern and its transformation through surface manipulation. I use many traditional hand methods of stitching, such as pleating and smocking, to physically alter my original designs.

“Frequently my work starts in the digital realm: whether photographing an object or one of my own paintings, it serves as inspiration for new work. Many of my images are everyday scenes or objects of purpose that appear mundane but feature a beautiful shape or colour that’s a perfect jumping-off point to create a textile.”

Ealish, who sees the craft of making as “my form or meditation”, is also exhibiting in the Westside Artists’ Momentum Summer Show at Blossom Street Gallery, York, until September 26.

Embroidery by Amy Butcher

Amy Butcher, textiles, 1 Carlton Cottages, Wigginton, York

FOR Amy’s applique-based hand embroidery, a collage of intricately cut fabric shapes creates a foundation. This is then stitched and embellished to make illustrative pieces rooted in nature and animals.

“My love of art and textiles started at school and has been a passion ever since,” says the largely self-taught Amy.

Amy Butcher: A passion for textiles

“The support and inspiration from an embroidery class enabled me to continue to develop my work and confidence, and in 2014 I was fortunate to get the opportunity to work with the greetings card company Bug Art.”

She now works on developing her own range of greetings cards, prints, cushion panels, coasters and embroidery stitch kits, printed from her original textile art for Beaks & Bobbins.

Tomorrow’s preview evening will be the first chance to catch her York Open Studios debut.

Golden Orioles, an illustration, by Joanna Lisowiec

Joanna Lisowiec, illustration, 40 Hempland Drive, York

JOANNA’S prints and illustrations look to nature, classical art and mythology for inspiration, as she focuses on birds and animals in her bold, clean and distinctive linocuts, drawings and paintings.

“My aspiration is to capture truths that make one ponder the beauty of life,” she says.

Originally from Poland and brought up in Colorado, USA, and Switzerland, she first came to Britain to study illustration at Edinburgh College of Art, falling in love with the wild Highlands and later with the “quaint English countryside” when she moved to Yorkshire for her MA in advertising and design from the University of Leeds.

“As an illustrator and printmaker, I’m known for a bold style of illustration with lots of texture, usually focused on the beauty of nature and narratives inspired by folklore. I love reading books and would love to illustrate a classic novel one day,” says Joanna, whose surname is pronounced “Lease-oviets”.

“When I’m not working, I can be found with my nose in a book, taking long walks in the countryside, drinking tea and listening to the rain.”

She will be opening her studio for tomorrow’s preview.

Black Mist, by Dee Thwaite

Dee Thwaite, painting, 10 Bedale Avenue, York, second weekend only

DEE uses acrylic paint, inks, graphite, oil pastels and charcoal in her sea and landscape paintings and drawings, marked by stormy skies, movement in the clouds, shifting light and the changing seasons.

Dee Thwaite at work in her studio

Mainly self-taught, this contemporary abstract artist expresses her love of the North Yorkshire coastline on canvas, board and paper in works that combine both a physical and emotional response when she paints, predominantly with her hands, as opposed to brushes.

“Painting has become such a healing and therapeutic part of my life and one of my greatest passions,” says Dee.

A Tabitha Grove painting on handmade paper

Tabitha Grove, painting, Arnup Studios, Panman Lane, Holtby, York

TABITHA uses bold colour, contrast, ink, watercolour, gold leaf and collage on handmade paper, fabric and even garments to explore perceptions of the body and how they can be challenged and celebrated. 

Her career as an actor and costume designer for film and theatre has informed Tabitha’s passion for storytelling and her fascination with the way our bodies interact with our environments.

Tabitha Grove: Actor, costume designer, art therapist, piano restorer….and artist

Tabitha’s career portfolio career extends to co-managing Look Gallery, in Helmsley, being an art therapist in hospitals and now working in piano restoration, where she learns rare skills that influence her art.

Each experience has informed Tabitha’s style, she says, leading to her “bringing diverse technique to a new perspective”.

TOMORROW: Reg Walker, Michelle Galloway, Judith Glover and Here Be Monsteras Ceramics (Kayti Peschke).

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.

Who are the NEW artists in 2021’s York Open Studios? Meet another six-pack…

Pamela Thorby: Recorder virtuoso turned ceramicist

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 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 the week ahead, 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.

“My work aims to abstract the modern, decaying landscape with textures and geometric composition,” says Mick Leach

Mick Leach, painting, 3 Thorpe Street, Scarcroft Road, York

AS a self-taught artist and full-time worker, Mick’s side-career in painting has been taking shape steadily since early 2016. “I’m still learning,” he says.

He works mainly with acrylic paint and chalk powder, along with other media, that he applies to MDF board to achieve a layered, industrial aesthetic in his abstract paintings.

Mick Leach: Self-taught abstract artist

He draws inspiration from El Lissitzky, the Russian artist, designer, photographer, typographer, polemicist and architect, and Kazemir Malevich, the pioneering fellow Russian avant-garde artist and art theorist.  

“Pursuing my urge to create, my work aims to abstract the modern, decaying landscape with textures and geometric composition,” says Mick, who won the 2019 Art& York Best Raw Talent award.

Look out too for Evie Leach’s jewellery designs in the same house. Both Mick and Evie will take part in the preview evening from 6pm to 9pm.

Ceramicist Pietro Sanna in his studio

Pietro Sanna, ceramics, 44 Dale Street, York

BORN in Sardinia and now working and living in York, Pietro has always been interested in art. During his degree studies in Contemporary 3D Craft at York College, he started to focus on the use of the ceramic medium.

Since graduating, he has taken part in The Kunsthuis Annual Ceramics Show, at the Dutch House, Mill Green Farm, Crayke, and in exhibitions at the Silson Contemporary Gallery, in Harrogate, where he is a gallery artist.

Pietro creates hand-built vessels as carriers for broad types of narratives; his practice taking inspiration from experimentation with clay and the possibilities it offers during the act of making.

Charlotte Dawson: Artist and facilitator

Charlotte Dawson, painting, 44 Dale Street, York

PIETRO’S partner, Charlotte is a vital player in York’s art scene, organising the York River Art Market, by Lendal Bridge, where artists and craftspeople set up stalls on Dame Judi Dench Walk at weekends in the summer months.

In her own work, facilitator Charlotte is a multi-disciplined artist, focusing on abstract painting and jewellery. She began her formal arts education in 1996 at Westwood Art College, Scarborough, later taking a short course at York School of Jewellery in 2010.

“My painting seeks to create a visual language, working intuitively to discover interesting compositions and colours through energetic mark making,” says Charlotte Dawson

After completing an Access course in Art & Design at York College in 2012,  she gained a BA Hons in Art & Design Interdisciplinary at Leeds University of Art in 2015.

“My painting seeks to create a visual language, working intuitively to discover interesting compositions and colours through energetic mark making, while my jewellery designs are led by technique and colour to create contemporary and everyday pieces,” says Charlotte.

A ghostly artwork by Caroline Lewis

Caroline Lewis, collage, 24 Hob Moor Terrace, York

LANDSCAPES and ghosts vie for centre stage in Caroline’s artwork.

Scenes of (mainly) Yorkshire inspire the landscapes, depicted in collage, lino print and paint. As for the ghosts, images sparked by Covid-19 and abandoned places are captured in collage, transfer printing and paint.

Caroline Lewis: Ceramicist, jewellery designer, delicatessen owner, gardener, pianist and collage artist

Caroline has a BA Hons in ceramics from West Surrey College of Art and studied on a one-year jewellery course full time at Maidenhead College of Art.

She owned a delicatessen for 30 years until taking early retirement in 2017 to give her more time to take up art again, along with gardening, re-learning the piano, walking and just enjoying life full stop.

David Bowie, portrait, by Lucie Wake. “It’s all about the eyes,” she says, and indeed the eyes have it

Lucie Wake, painting, 15 Slingsby Grove, York

ART runs like a seam through the life of Lucie, who has a BA Hons in Ceramics.

She built up a successful licensing company, Hocus Pocus, her designs adorning many products across most of the high-street stores. In 2005, she ventured into painting, concentrating on portraits, both of people and animals.

Lucie captures the soul of her portrait subjects through her expressive use of delicious slabs of oil paint on canvas. “It’s all about the eyes, they capture your attention,” she says.

Lucie Wake: Portrait artist for people and canines alike

Lucie, who promotes her art via Facet Painting, will be participating in Friday’s preview night from 6pm to 9pm and will be giving demonstrations over the two weekends.

Her work also can be found in the Momentum Summer Show, presented by the York art group Westside Artists at Blossom Street Gallery, by Micklegate Bar, York, until September 26. Gallery opening hours are: Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, 10am to 4pm; Covid safety measures are in place.

Stoneware-fired porcelain sculptural vessels by Pamela Thorby

Pamela Thorby, ceramics, 11 Middlethorpe Grove, York 

PAMELA left behind a distinguished career in music as a recorder virtuoso and academic to pursue a new path in fine art.

Her stoneware-fired porcelain sculptural vessels are “imagined but reminiscent of a multiplicity of organic forms”: whether interstellar, fossil, micro-organism or coral.

“I aspire to make work light enough to be hung in the air; strong enough to be placed piece inside piece, creating new possibilities of form and meaning,” says Pamela. “My aim is to translate the dynamism and sensitivity of my former career as a musician into a ‘visual music’ in clay.”

She is “so excited” to have been selected for her first participation in York Open Studios. “This was another one of the goals that I set myself and here we are, in my third year as a ceramicist, and I’m working towards a major body of work for this month’s fantastic event,” she says.

“I aspire to make work light enough to be hung in the air,” says Pamela Thorby

During lockdown, Pamela worked intensively towards a collection of thrown functional stoneware to partner with her sculptural hand-built porcelain forms. “The concentrated discipline of daily wheel practice has provided meditative solace and structure in extraordinary times,” she says.

In her esteemed career in music, Pamela was professor of recorder at the Royal Academy of Music in London until 2019; the regular recorder player for Welsh composer Sir Karl Jenkins’s projects and a member of such groups as La Serenissima, New London Consort and Palladian Ensemble with Baroque violinist Rachel Podger.

In May 2007, she performed a radical fusion of jazz and folk music with Perfect Houseplants at the National Centre for Early Music in York, an innovative experience she described memorably as: “I’m a bit like a gherkin on a salad plate: I’m adding piquancy to the mix.”

She will give demonstrations during the two YOS weekends and will be opening up her home studio for the Friday preview too.

TOMORROW: Mark Druery, Kate Akrill, Lisa Lundqvist, Nick Kobyluch, Lucy McElroy and Liz O’Connell.

More Things To Do in and around York as ‘Byrne out’ strikes tonight’s comedy gig. List No. 39, courtesy of The Press, York

Shock of the new: Milton Jones looks startled at the prospect of replacing Ed Byrne at short notice for tonight’s comedy bill at York Theatre Royal

AWAY from all that football, Charles Hutchinson finds plenty of cause for cheer beyond chasing an inflated pig’s bladder, from a late-change comedy bill to Ayckbourn on film, York artists to a park bench premiere.

Late substitution of the week: Byrne out, Jones in, for Live At The Theatre Royal comedy night, York Theatre Royal, tonight, 7.30pm

ED Byrne will not top the Live At The Theatre Royal comedy bill tonight after all. “We are sorry to announce that due to circumstances beyond our control, Ed is now unable to appear,” says the official statement.

The whimsical Irish comedian subsequently has tweeted his “You Need To Self-Isolate” notification, running until 23.59pm on July 7.

Well equipped to take over at short notice is the quip-witted pun-slinger Milton Jones, joining Rhys James, Maisie Adam and host Arthur Smith. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Naomi Petersen and Bill Champion in Alan Ayckbourn’s The Girl Next Door at the SJT and now on film too. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

“Film of the week”: Alan Ayckburn’s The Girl Next Door, from Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, until Sunday

THE SJT’s film of Alan Ayckbourn’s latest premiere, The Girl Next Door, is available on the Scarborough theatre’s website, sjt.uk.com.

Directed by Ayckbourn, his 85th play can be seen on stage in The Round until Saturday and now in a filmed recording in front of a live audience until midnight on Sunday.

One day in 2020 lockdown, veteran actor Rob spots a stranger hanging out the washing in the adjoining garden, but his neighbours have not been around for months. Who is the mysterious girl next door? And why is she wearing 1940s’ clothing?

Ray of sunshine: Edwin Ray as Tick/Mitzi in Priscilla Queen Of The Desert at Leeds Grand Theatre. Picture: Darren Bell

Musical of the week ahead: Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, Leeds Grand Theatre, July 6 to 10

PRISCILLA Queen Of The Desert returns to Leeds for seven socially distanced performances in a new production produced by Mark Goucher and, for the first time, Jason Donovan, star of the original West End show and two UK tours.

Loaded up with glorious costumes, fabulous feathers and dance-floor classics, three friends hop aboard a battered old bus bound for Alice Springs to put on the show of a lifetime.

Miles Western plays Bernadette, Nick Hayes, Adam/Felicia and Edwin Ray, Tick/Mitzi, in this heart-warming story of self-discovery, sassiness and acceptance. Box office: 0113 243 0808 or at leedsgrandtheatre.com.

Solo show: Polymath Phil Grainger puts his songwriting in the spotlight in his Clive concert in Stillington

Gig of the week outside York: Clive, alias Phil Grainger, At The Mill, Stillington, near York, tomorrow, 7.30pm

CLIVE is the solo music project of Easingwold singer, songwriter, musician, sound engineer, magician, actor, Gobbledigook Theatre director and event promoter Phil Grainger.

As the voice and the soul behind Orpheus, Eurydice and The Gods The Gods The Gods, Clive finds the globe-trotting Grainger back home, turning his hand to a song-writing project marked by soaring vocal and soulful musicianship. Expect a magical evening wending through new work and old classics in two sets, one acoustic, the other electric. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill/512182.

Emily Hansen’s Pilgrim 14 as Mary Magdalene in a rehearsal for A Resurrection For York at Dean’s Park. Picture: John Saunders

Open-air theatre event of the weekend: A Resurrection For York, Residents Garden, Minster Library, Dean’s Park, York, Saturday and Sunday, 11am, 2pm, 4pm

THE wagons are in place for A Resurrection For York, presented by York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust, York Festival Trust and York Minster.

Philip Parr, artistic director of Parrabbola, directs a community cast in an hour-long outdoor performance, scripted by Parr and 2018 York Mystery Plays director Tom Straszewski from the York Mystery Plays cycle of the crucifixion and the events that followed. Tickets are on sale at ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on/york/residents-garden-deans-park/a-resurrection-for-york/.

Autonomous, by Sharon McDonagh, from the Momentum Summer Show at Blossom Street Gallery, York

Exhibition of the week and beyond: Momentum Summer Show, Westside Artists, Blossom Street Gallery, by Micklegate Bar, York, until September 26

YORK art group Westside Artists, a coterie of artists from the city’s Holgate and West areas, are exhibiting paintings, portraits, photomontage, photography, metalwork, textiles, ceramics and mixed-media art at Blossom Street Gallery.

Taking part are Adele Karmazyn; Carolyn Coles; Donna Maria Taylor; Ealish Wilson; Fran Brammer; Jane Dignum; Jill Tattersall; Kate Akrill and Lucy McElroy. So too are Lucie Wake; Marc Godfrey-Murphy; Mark Druery; Michelle Hughes; Rich Rhodes; Robin Grover-Jaques, Sharon McDonagh and Simon Palmour.

The Park Keeper director Matt Aston, left, actor Sean McKenzie and writer Mike Kenny at Rowntree Park, York. Picture: Northedge Photography

Theatre premiere of the week ahead: Park Bench Theatre in The Park Keeper, The Friends’ Garden, Rowntree Park, York, July 7 to 17 (except July 11)

AFTER last summer’s trilogy of solo shows, Matt Aston’s Park Bench Theatre return to Rowntree Park with Olivier Award-winning York writer Mike Kenny’s new monologue to mark the park’s centenary.

Performed by Sean McKenzie, The Park Keeper is set in York in the summer of 1945, when Rowntree Park’s first, and so far only, park keeper, ‘Parky’ Bell, is about to retire. That can mean only one thing, a speech, but what can he say? How can he close this chapter on his life? Will he be able to lock the gates to his kingdom one last time? Box office: 01904 623568, at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or via parkbenchtheatre.com.

Andy Fairweather Low: Booked into Pocklington Arts Centre for next February

Gig announcement of the week outside York: Andy Fairweather Low, Pocklington Arts Centre, February 11 2022

ANDY Fairweather Low, the veteran Welsh guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and producer, will return to Pocklington next February.

Founder and cornerstone of Sixties’ hitmakers Amen Corner and later part of Eric Clapton and Roger Waters’ bands, Cardiff-born Fairweather Low, 72, will perform with The Low Riders: drummer Paul Beavis, bassist Dave Bronze and saxophonist Nick Pentelow. Box office: pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Jane McDonald: Lighting up York Barbican in July 2022 rather than July 4 this summer

Rearranged gig announcement of the week in York: Jane McDonald, York Barbican, July 22 2022

WAKEFIELD cabaret singer and television personality Jane McDonald’s Let The Light In show is on the move to next summer.

For so long booked in as the chance to “Get The Lights Back On” at York Barbican on July 4, the Government’s postponement of “Freedom Day” from June 21 to July 19 at the earliest has enforced the date change for a show first booked in for 2020. Tickets remain valid; box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Westside Artists to gain Momentum in summer show at Blossom Street Gallery

 Autonomous, mixed-media collage on box canvas, by Sharon McDonagh, long-listed for the 2021 Aesthetica Art Prize and now to be shown in the Momentum Summer Show at Blossom Street Gallery, York

YORK art group Westside Artists open their Momentum Summer Show at Blossom Street Gallery, by Micklegate Bar, York, on Friday (25/6/2021).

This coterie of artists from the Holgate and West area of York will be showing a varied range of disciplines, from painting and photomontage to textiles, ceramics and mixed-media art.

Among the participating artists, and a key organiser too, is Sharon McDonagh, from Holgate, who had her mixed-media work long-listed for this year’s Aesthetica Art Prize, whose accompanying exhibition is running at York Art Gallery. One of Sharon’s submitted pieces, Autonomous, is now featuring in the Momentum show.

Missy T, oil on canvas, by Lucie Wake

Joining her at Blossom Street Gallery are: Adele Karmazyn, digital photomontages; Carolyn Coles, seascapes; Donna Maria Taylor, mixed media; Ealish Wilson, textiles; Fran Brammer, textiles; Jane Dignum, prints; Jill Tattersall, mixed media; Kate Akrill, Skullduggery ceramics, and Lucy McElroy, portraits.

So too are: Lucie Wake, from Facet Painting, paintings and portraits; Marc Godfrey-Murphy, alias MarcoLooks, illustrations; Mark Druery, pen and watercolour sketches; Michelle Hughes, prints; Rich Rhodes, ceramics; Robin Grover-Jaques, painting and metalwork, and Simon Palmour, photographs.

The Momentum Summer Show will be gaining momentum until September 26. Gallery opening hours are: Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, 10am to 4pm; Covid-compliant measures are in place.

Untitled, ‘Dark and Light’ acrylic on canvas, by Robin Grover-Jacques

Carolyn Coles loves to be besides the sea as tide comes in for Village Gallery show

Holding On – Filey, by Carolyn Coles

YORK seascape artist Carolyn Coles will hold her first exhibition since lockdown at Village Gallery, Colliergate, York, from August 4 to September 19.

Favouring a limited palette to give her work identity, simplicity and life, Carolyn paints mostly on bespoke canvasses in oils and sometimes acrylics, applied with palette knives and flat brushes.

“I like to capture atmosphere, usually with a leaning towards dark and moody and generally on a larger scale,” she says.

Carolyn’s formal artistic education began with studying art and design at York College, then specialising in illustration at Hereford College of Art and Design, earning distinctions in the early 1990s.

Too Late To Go Home, by Carolyn Coles

After a career taking in marketing art materials and graphic design and illustration in journalism, Carolyn now devotes her time to painting, exhibiting and selling work both on the home market in York, London, Derby, Manchester and Leeds and internationally too.

Carolyn’s love of the seaside and nature in general is reflected in her new collection. “The impressionistic style allows the viewer to interpret their own story and pull their own memories back into play,” she says.

Carolyn was invited by curator and owner Simon Main to mount her “Oh I Do Like To Be Besides The…” show at Village Gallery.

“We select artists by going out to events like York Open Studios and North Yorkshire Open Studios, Art& and the Staithes art festival… and occasionally we get artists coming through the door, canvasses under their arms, trying to find a place to show,” he says.

Lifeline, by Carolyn Coles

“We met Carolyn and saw her work at her first York Open Studios show back in 2019 and were so taken with her seascapes – many inspired by and maybe giving a different perspective of the Yorkshire coastline – that we started talking about a show.

“The exhibition starting next week is the result of over a year of talking and getting a match in the diary. So, we are delighted we have finally made it and are really looking forward to hanging Carolyn’s beautiful work. And who doesn’t love Filey?”

Here Carolyn talks the easel life with Charles Hutchinson.

You were due to exhibit at York Open Studios and Staithes Festival of Art and Heritage Festival this year, both alas cancelled. Will those works now form the Village Gallery exhibition?
“Yes. All except one of my bigger pieces that found its new home just before lockdown; a new one from a smaller set of works, which was bought as a special present for Mothering Sunday; another for a secret wedding, and lastly one I sold, giving all proceeds towards a group in York who set themselves up to make and distribute face visors using 3-D printing technology.

“The festival in Staithes usually happens in September, so I would have expected more new works by then.”

I Spy Something Beginning With W, by Carolyn Coles

What did you do in lockdown when you couldn’t go down to the sea?
“I tried my hand in home-schooling, which wasn’t anything like I had imagined it to be. I rearranged furniture and took over our dining room as a studio, which offered mixed results, partly because I’d forgotten what it was like to have an honest live audience offering encouraging suggestions.

“I couldn’t escape to the loft, my old studio space, as it was now my partner’s office from home. And although I couldn’t go to the sea, the lockdown gave me a brilliant opportunity to sit and immerse myself intensively in the seascapes I had just been working on.” 

Where have you been painting since lockdown easement?
“I’ve been back in my studio with the Southbank Artists group at Southlands Methodist Church for a month now, and I’ve more than welcomed the return to what feels a bit like the old normal.

“I’ve been working on a commission, which is huge, so it’s probably just as well I’m not painting at home.”

Staithes In The Mist – Collectors Huddle, by Carolyn Coles

How does it feel to be painting en plein air again?
“I’ve not managed a huge amount of this yet but hope to when holidays come. Luckily, I enjoy working from photos and sketches, as a lot of my field trips are indeed family days out.

“I love painting with my daughter although I end up assisting, which does get easier with time. Nothing beats painting on location.”

6. What draws you to the sea as a subject matter? The sight, the sound, the light, the dark?
“Hands down, light is the winner. However, the energy, mystery, its patterns, unexpected treasures and its mood all play a massive part.

“I always feel I’m happy with a piece when I can hear the sound of the sea whispering its relentless chatter. I’ve always loved the sea. It’s just so completely fascinating.

Not Today, Runswick Bay, by Carolyn Coles

“I’ve spent hundreds of hours contemplating life looking at it. I was a big fan of fossil hunting in my twenties, though I never really thought about painting the sea back then. I think partly the reason for painting seascapes now is because it’s a good way to take myself back.” 

How do you settle upon the painting techniques you use?

Over the years, I’ve definitely settled into my way of working. I love using broad, flat brushes alongside palette knives, which enables more random marks, producing less contrived mark-making. 

“I prefer oils, the soft buttery texture; the incredible depth of colour leaves acrylics standing really. But I do like to work with speed at times and acrylics do tick a lot of boxes. I also love working in lots of other media; charcoal is sublime.” 

Time To Go III, Sandsend, by Carolyn Coles

Do you have a favourite seascape?  Sandsend? Staithes? Wherever?
“I couldn’t say really as every place has its own merits. I’ve painted Sandsend a lot, but recently Filey has become more prominent. The light there can really be incredible.

“Runswick Bay can be as still as a milk pond – really quite surreal. Staithes has its own beauty but different again.

“I’m not fussy but do prefer quieter spots if I can find them. Saying that, Saltburn is incredible but more for messing about in the sea. Great wave action there.”

In the Yorkshire versus Northumberland battle for the best coastline award, which one wins?!
“Ask me again after the summer, as I’m planning a few trips to the Northumberland coast. I doubt it could beat Yorkshire, though I couldn’t say for sure yet. Maybe I’ll get marooned as fellow York artist Malcolm Ludvigsen did at Holy Island. It’s pretty easy to lose the sense of time when painting. I bet that was exciting!”

Crash, by Carolyn Coles

Who are your fellow artists in the Southbank Artists group. What do you most enjoy about working out of Southlands Methodists Church?

“There are 16 studios in all at South Bank Studios, ranging across all disciplines, even performance artists! I’d feel bad mentioning some rather than others, but they really are a great group to work with. A really interesting bunch. I’ve missed seeing them.

“Special thanks are always due to Donna Maria Taylor who gave me the chance to join her in her space at first, and who remains a brilliant source of support. It’s a great space to work in.

“My studio has a wonderful North light, which was lucky. It can be busy at times, but I feel very much at home there.”

The Walk, by Carolyn Coles

Who are the Westside Artists? Will you be hosting a joint show at some point?

“The Westside Artists (York) – fondly known as ‘The Westies’ – came to be when we grouped together in early 2019. Our close proximity to each other was a great support network at the time and the reason for its name. 

“Now we keep in touch offering each other support, advice, laughs. Sharing ideas, and even helping out in a material crisis, is perfect when working locally to one another.

“We’re planning to host a joint show in December, when there’ll be around 12 of us exhibiting at Village Gallery. We’re really looking forward to it.”

What’s coming next for you? Any upcoming shows?
“I have work being exhibited until next January at York Hospital, presently enjoyed by workers and patients, but no visitors. I’m really sad the Staithes festival has had to be cancelled, though it’s totally understandable obviously.”

“I always feel I’m happy with a piece when I can hear the sound of the sea whispering its relentless chatter,” says York seascape artist Carolyn Coles

Carolyn Coles, “Oh I Do Like To Be Besides The…” exhibition of seascape art at Village Gallery, Colliergate, York, August 4 to September 19. Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm (4.30pm, Sundays).

For more information on Carolyn, go to her website: carolyncoles.co.uk.

Please note: Village Gallery’s Covid-secure etiquette:

“WE are only a little shop, so to conform as far as possible to social distancing, it will only be possible to have one person/family-friendly group in at a time,” says owner Simon Main.

“Even if you cannot see anyone in the shop when you arrive, please shout out to check it’s OK, as there may be people upstairs. And if you have to wait, please queue responsibly outside, maintaining that essential two-metre separation.”