THE sun is out for weekend two of the biggest ever York Open Studios but Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage “can’t continue”.
Dormant in the Covid years of 2020 and 2021, now a shortage of locations and manpower has brought down the festival curtain, perhaps permanently, after the scrapping of the 2022 event in the North Yorkshire fishing village.
Blame the “staycation effect” that fills the cottages all year round, squeezing out artists, say the organisers of this volunteer-run event. “We feel that the model we based the SFAH on is no longer workable and that if the festival were to come back in any form it would need a radical re-think,” reads the official announcement. “We regret we must cancel SFAH 2022 and for the foreseeable future.”
Two Bigs Egos In A Small Car arts podcasters Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson discuss the contrasting fortunes of these two long-running celebrations of northern art and crafts in Episode 85.
What else is bothering the chatty art duo? Under discussion are: Oscars 2022, the fallout; Sheffield Leadmill’s future; Michael Bay’s hyper-action movie Ambulance; writer Harry Sword versus Public Service Broadcasting; Magritte, the back story. Oh, and what is Clifford’s Tower?
NOW is the chance to go around the houses, the studios and workshops too, as recommended by Charles Hutchinson on his art beat.
Art event of the week and next week too: York Open Studios, today and tomorrow; April 9 and 10, 10am to 5pm
AFTER 2021’s temporary move to July, York Open Studios returns to its regular spring slot, promising its biggest event ever with more than 150 artists and makers in 100-plus workshops, home and garden studios and other creative premises.
Thirty new participants have been selected by the event organisers. As ever, York Open Studios offers the chance to talk to artists, look around where they work and buy works.
Artists’ work encompasses painting and print, illustration, drawing and mixed media, ceramics, glass and sculpture, jewellery, textiles, photography and installation art. Check out the artists’ directory listings and the locations map at yorkopenstudios.co.uk or pick up a booklet around York.
Classical concert of the week: York Musical Society, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, St Peter’s School Memorial Hall, York, tonight, 7.30pm
DAVID Pipe conducts York Musical Society in a performance of Gioachino Rossini’s last major work, Petite Messe Solennelle, composed when his friend Countess Louise Pillet-Will commissioned a solemn mass for the consecration of a private chapel in March 1864.
After Rossini deemed it to be a ‘poor little mass’, the word ‘little’ (petite) has become attached to the title, even though the work is neither little nor particularly solemn. Instead, the music ranges from hushed intensity to boisterous high spirits.
Caius Lee, piano, Valerie Barr, accordion, Katie Wood, soprano, Emily Hodkinson, mezzo-soprano, Ed Lambert, tenor, and Stuart O’Hara, bass, perform it tonight. Box office: eventbrite.co.uk/e/rossini-petite-messe-solennelle.
Late news: York Late Music, Stuart O’Hara and Ionna Koullepou, 1pm today; Bingham String Quartet, 7.30pm tonight, St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel, York
BASS Stuart O’Hara and pianist Ionna Koullepou play a lunchtime programme of no fewer than eight new settings of York and regional poets’ works by York composers.
In the evening, the Bingham String Quartet perform Beethoven’s String Quartet in B-flat major, Schnittke’s String Quartet No 3, York composer Nicola LeFanu’s String Quartet No 2 and Tippett’s String Quartet No 2. Box office: latemusic.org or on the door.
A dose of the blues: York Blues Festival 2022, The Crescent, York, today, bands from 1pm to 11pm
YORK Blues Festival returns for a third celebration at The Crescent community venue after two previous sell-outs. On the bill will be Tim Green Band; Dust Radio; Jed Potts & The Hillman Hunters; TheJujubes; Blue Milk; DC Blues; Five Points Gang and Redfish.
For full details, go to: yorkbluesfest.co.uk. Box office: thecrescentyork.seetickets.com.
Free community event of the weekend: YorkLife, Parliament Street, York, today and tomorrow, 11am to 9pm
YORK’S new spring festival weekend showcases the city’s musicians, performers, comedians and more besides today and tomorrow. Organised by Make It York, YorkLife sees more than 30 performers and organisations head to Parliament Street for this free event with no tickets required in advance.
York’s Music Venue Network presents Saturday headliners Huge, Sunday bill-toppers The Howl & The Hum, plus Bull; Kitty VR; Flatcap Carnival; Hyde Family Jam; Floral Pattern; Bargestra and Wounded Bear.
Workshops will be given by: Mud Pie Arts: Cloud Tales, interactive storytelling; Thunk It Theatre, Build Our City theatre; Gemma Wood, York Skyline art; Fantastic Faces, face painting; Henry Raby, from Say Owt, spoken poetry; Matt Barfoot, drumming; Christian Topman, ukulele; Polly Bennet, Little Vikings PQA York, performing arts, and Innovation Entertainment, circus workshops. Look out too for the York Mix Radio quiz; York Dance Space’s dance performance and Burning Duck Comedy Club’s comedy night.
Children’s show of the week: Oi Frog & Friends!, York Theatre Royal, Monday, 1.30pm and 4.30pm; Tuesday, 10.30am and 1.30pm
ON a new day at Sittingbottom School, Frog is looking for a place to sit, but Cat has other ideas and Dog is happy to play along. Cue multiple rhyming rules and chaos when Frog is placed in in charge.
Suitable for age three upwards, Oi Frog & Friends! is a 55-minute, action-packed play with original songs, puppets, laughs and “more rhyme than you can shake a chime at”.
This fun-filled musical has been transferred to the stage by Emma Earle, Zoe Squire, Luke Bateman and Richy Hughes from Kes Gray and Jim Field’s picture books. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Musical of the week: Blood Brothers, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday to Saturday
AFTER a three-year hiatus, Sean Jones has returned to playing scally Mickey in Willy Russell’s fateful musical account of Liverpool twins divided at both, stretching his involvement to a 23rd year at impresario Bill Kenwright’s invitation in what is billed as his “last ever tour” of Blood Brothers.
Back too, after a decade-long gap, is Niki Evans in the role of Mickey and Eddie’s mother, Mrs Johnstone.
Blood Brothers keeps on returning to the Grand Opera House, invariably with Jones to the fore. If this year really is his Blood Brothers valedictory at 51, playing a Scouse lad from the age of seven once more, thanks, Sean, for all the years of cheers and tears. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.
York gig of the week: Imelda May, Made To Love Tour, York Barbican, Wednesday, 7.30pm
IRISH singer-songwriter and poet Imelda May returns to York Barbican for her third gig there in the only Yorkshire show of her first major UK tour in more than five years.
“I cannot wait to see you all again, to dance and sing together, to connect and feel the sparkle in a room where music makes us feel alive and elevated for a while,” says Imelda. “A magical feeling we can only get from live music. Let’s go!”
Her sixth studio album, last April’s 11 Past The Hour, will be showcased and she promises poetry too. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
At the treble: English Touring Opera at York Theatre Royal, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 7.30pm
ENGLISH Touring Opera present three performances in four nights, starting with Bach’s intense vision of hope, St John Passion, on Wednesday, when professional soloists and baroque specialists the Old Street Band combine with singers from York choirs.
La Boheme, Puccini’s operatic story of a poet falling in love with a consumptive seamstress, follows on Friday; the residency concludes with Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel, a send-up of corruption and sloth in government that holds up a mirror to the last days of the Romanovs. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Play of the week outside York: Jane Eyre, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, Friday to April 30
CHRIS Bush’s witty and fleet-footed adaptation seeks to present Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre to a fresh audience while staying true to the original’s revolutionary spirit.
Using actor-musicians, playful multi-role playing and 19th century pop hits, Zoe Waterman directs this SJT and New Vic Theatre co-production starring Eleanor Sutton as Jane Eyre, who has no respect for authority, but lives by her own strict moral code, no matter what the consequences. Box office: 01723 370541 or sjt.uk.com.
Welcome home: Beth McCarthy, The Crescent, York, May 2, doors, 7.30pm
BETH McCarthy will play a home-city gig for the first time since March 2019 at The Crescent community venue.
Beth, singer, songwriter and BBC Radio York evening show presenter, has moved from York to London, since when she has drawn 4.8 million likes and 300,000 followers on TikTok and attracted 465,000 monthly listeners and nine million plays of her She Gets The Flowers on Spotify. Box office: myticket.co.uk/artists/beth-mccarthy.
Oh, and one other thing
MODFATHER Paul Weller’s gig on Tuesday at York Barbican has sold out.
YORK Open Studios returns with two weekends of creativity and colour on April 2, 3, 9 and 10 from 10am to 5pm each day.
After a temporary switch to July last year, the event resumes its more familiar spring slot for 2022, when more than 150 artists and makers will be showing and selling their work within their homes and workspaces, giving visitors an opportunity to view and buy “bespoke pieces to suit every budget”.
The range of artists’ work encompasses painting and print, illustration, drawing and mixed media, ceramics, glass and sculpture, jewellery, textiles, photography and installation art.
As with every year, new artists – 30 in total – dovetail with regulars, enabling visitors to see new work by their favourites and discover innovative work by emerging artists and those new to York Open Studios. In keeping with past years, artists have been handpicked by a panel of art professionals to keep the line-up fresh and diverse.
Beccy Ridsdel, one of the organisers and an artist in her own right, says: “We are thrilled to bring to this ever popular, two-weekend event to York and welcome visitors and the residents of York to enjoy and buy art in our usual time slot of April.
“Last year, our 20th year, was a special celebration and we recognise that after two years of restrictions on our lives, our visitors are more than delighted to get out and about enjoying all that York Open Studios brings.
“Our artists too are really looking forward to sharing their work. Our weekends may have been 21 years in the making, yet 2022 allows us to introduce even more talent to York. We look forward to welcoming everyone to one of the country’s premier arts events.”
A key aim of the York Open Studios team is to support and work closely with developing artists or those new to making creativity their career. Working with York College University Centre and York St John University, the York Open Studios committee has selected several undergraduates for the Student Showcase.
Among them will be Laetitia Newcomb, whose sculptural ceramics are influenced by her time in Africa and her home in Yorkshire, and Shannon Vertigan, whose installation art homes in on the theme of home.
Last year’s interactive map went down so well that visitors can access such a map again via the yorkopenstudios.co.uk website. Alternatively, a free printed directory is available from various tourist hubs and artist locations throughout York and beyond.
York Open Studios 2022 will have a preview evening on April 1 from 6pm to 9pm. Check out the artists’ directory listings at yorkopenstudios.co.uk to find out who is participating.
ROSIE Dean’s Seascapes exhibition opens at Village Gallery, Castlegate, York, today.
Rosie grew up in York, studied art at York School of Art and then headed to Manchester School of Art and subsequently Lancaster School of Art, a move that helped her to develop her skills in landscape art on account of her proximity to the coast and the drama of the Lake District.
On completing her BA Hons degree, Rosie moved to London and onwards to New York, where she worked in fabric design.
After returning to London, she started hand-painting fine art onto furniture, a business she continued after moving back to York in 1992, when she opened a shop in Grape Lane.
Since 2008, she has returned to creating paintings solely, constantly enjoying the challenges it brings.
“I feel total peace breathing the ozone, staring out to sea and focusing on the horizon line, sensing all around me and feeling the elements around me, the sights and sounds, the salt in the air. Pure contentment,” says Rosie.
“Then, in contrast, watching the mesmerising strength and energy of crashing waves as they make their race to the shore.
“These remembered scenes I can take back home to the studio and attempt to translate into a painting that reflects that moment in time.”
Rosie, of Adelaide Street, Southbank, has had many solo shows over the years, including exhibiting at York Art Gallery, and has taken part in York Open Studios for the past ten years.
She paints in oils on board, canvas or paper, incorporating mediums such as pastels, graphite and inks to achieve the feeling she wants in sizes ranging from 1ft to 8ft.
“I’m forever losing or forgetting things, but the atmosphere and temperament of places I remember so clearly. Scenes that shout out, ‘look at me’. Seascape, landscape and more,” says Rosie.
“I work on several paintings at once, and, for example, if I feel I want to be on a windswept beach, I recall all the elements it consists of and travel there through painting. I feel very lucky and privileged indeed.”
Rosie Dean’s Seascapes will be on show at Village Gallery, Castlegate, York, until January 22 2022. Normal opening hours are 10am to 4pm, Tuesday to Saturday.
YORK illustrator, printmaker and erstwhile CBeebies animator Marc Godfrey-Murphy, alias MarcoLooks, is launching a Print Swap from Friday to bring together artists across Yorkshire and beyond.
Marc is inviting peers and fellow illustrators and artists who sell their work online – “even if it’s just an Etsy shop with two or three listings,” he says – to take part in the MarcoLooks Print Swap to share and support each other’s work.
Applications to join the Print Swap will be open from April to June. Artists involved should send Marc a batch of their prints, then in return, they will receive a selection of new prints from the other artists taking part.
To celebrate, at the end of summer, when the swap finishes, the Courthouse at Rural Arts, North Yorkshire’s only professionally run cross-discipline arts centre, in Thirsk, will be home to an exhibition of all the prints in the Print Swap.
Marc has been selling his prints, cards and stationery items in York since 2018. Now, sensing there sometimes can be a turf war among artists who might create similar work, he felt inspired to set up the print swap to encourage and strengthen the sense of community over competition.
“The lack of events over the past year has driven me to create something community focused for indie artists to get involved with,” he says. “It’s also my 40th birthday this week, so what better way to celebrate than all coming together to share our work with each other, and what better way to finish the swap than by showing all the prints that have taken part at the beautiful Rural Arts in Thirsk?
“I’ll be co-ordinating the print swap, so everyone taking part receives a portfolio of prints from the other artists taking part. They can hang them in their studio and hopefully be inspired by them and connect with the other artists whose work they might be unfamiliar with.”
The Print Swap is launching on April 16. Any artist can take part in the print swap, providing they sell their work either on their own website, at events, or through a platform such as Etsy or Folksy. For more information, visit Marc’s website at marcolooks.com and click on “Print Swap” from the top menu.
Here CharlesHutchPress learns more from MarcoLooks about his Print Swap.
How widely will you be spreading the reach of Print Swap?
“The MarcoLooks Print Swap is really aimed at indie artists based in the UK. That being said, I belong to a couple of international art groups, and I know that some of my artist friends from across the world would be keen to get involved.
“Leaving them out feels against the spirit of the connection and collaboration I’m trying to create. So, it will be open for anyone wishing to get involved regardless of location. I’m hoping, though, that I’ll be seeing a lot of my York-based artist friends getting involved to help represent one of the best cities in the world!”
What made you choose this model for the Print Swap: straight swaps, as with football stickers, rather than any financial exchange?
“I often swap my work with other artists. It creates a heavier sense of value on the work somehow, like it’s become more of a gift exchange, than anything to do with money. It feels more special.
“Having taken part in similar exchanges before, it’s really exciting when you look through the prints you’ve been sent and the thrill of falling in love with an artist’s work who you’ve never heard of before. It’s like a Secret Santa for art prints.
“There will be a small admin fee to take part, which largely covers return postage costs. In the past, I’ve taken part in exchanges which have charged up to £20 to get involved, but I wanted to make it as accessible as possible.
“Being a small business, I know that every expense counts so I didn’t want to create any financial barriers to stop other artists – with their own indie businesses – from getting involved too.”
On which date is your birthday?
“I’ll be turning 40 on Thursday 15th. Eeek! I really wanted to do something special to mark the occasion, so this is it! Age is just a mindset though, right?”
What exhibitions do you have coming up this year?
“Right now, my focus is on getting back to art markets and making a success of the MarcoLooks Print Swap. I always update my Instagram with any shows that I’ll be taking part in, so be sure to follow me over there (@marcolooks) for all the latest updates from me.”
Will you be taking part in York Open Studios again in July?
“Sadly, I didn’t get accepted into Open Studios this year. The pieces I submitted ‘for the judging panel’ were from an ongoing set of monotone, abstract line illustrations based around the themes of body image and eating disorders among men in the LGBTQ+ community.
“They told me the idea didn’t feel developed enough. That feedback stung a bit, to be honest, especially considering the issue is seldom brought to the table, but hey.
“So here I am now, creating more art-based opportunities, for more artists, with no auditions. Everyone can get involved, the only prerequisite is that you are a professional artist, which, for these purposes I’m defining as you sell your work, either in an Etsy shop, somewhere else online, or at live markets.”
What MarcoLooks works will you be looking to swap?
“Ah ha! I haven’t created it yet. I know what it’s going to be, though. The Print Swap is open until the end of June, so there’s plenty of time to get creative. Each artist will send me six copies of the same print. Five will be distributed to the other artists, with the sixth featuring in the show at the end of summer/in the autumn.”
Will works be for sale at the Thirsk exhibition?
“Yes. I’m keen to support our community of artists wherever I can, so all artists taking part will have the opportunity to sell their print. They will have their details available for anyone looking to buy more work by an artist who caught their eye. It’s going to be great!
“The exact exhibition dates are yet to be announced.”
This is how MarcoLooks Print Swap will work:
WHAT: The Print Swap is open to all artists within the UK. The only caveat is you must be selling your work somewhere online, either Etsy, Folksy, your own website or at markets.
ACCEPTED MEDIA: Art print. Any paper is fine. There is no theme. Your name and social media handle should be on the back of each print, so your recipient will know where to find you.
PAPER: A5 (210 by 148 mm). Printed image size is up to you. You must provide six prints. If you want to submit part of a limited edition, that is completely up to you.
THE SWAP: A portfolio of five randomly selected prints will be mailed to each participant at the end of Summer 2021 (exact dates TBC). MarcoLooks will keep one print from each participant submitted to the exchange for exhibition and promotional purposes. Participants will be notified when all print swaps have been shipped.
DEADLINE: Prints and all participation fees must be received by Wednesday, June 30 2021.
EXHIBITIONS: All submitted prints will be exhibited, in the autumn, in the Courthouse at Rural Arts, in Thirsk. Additional venues and exhibitions may be added along the way…watch this space!
REPRODUCTION: All participating prints will be put in a web gallery and may be reproduced digitally to promote additional exhibitions or future exchanges. Proper credit will be given to the artist on reproduction; no monetary value will be associated with reproduction.
IMPORTANT: All prints must conform to the guidelines. Any prints that do not fit the guidelines will be returned to the artist. *£6 GBP participation fee is not refundable.
SHIPPING: Your complete edition of six prints should be posted in a hard-backed envelope. Prints should be mailed to MarcoLooks, Blake House, 18 Blake Street, York, Yo1 8QG, along with your order number and legible entry form. Prints will not be accepted without £6 payment. Payment is due no later than June 30.
SOCIAL MEDIA: As prints arrive, Marc will be uploading images to the MarcoLooks Instagram, showcasing the variety of work and artists joining the exchange. Follow the exchange on social media: Instagram @Marcolooks. Social media savvy? Hashtag your works in progress or completed works using the hashtag #MLPrintSwap.
AFTER a year where killjoy Covid-19 re-wrote the arts and events diary over and over again, here comes 2021, when the pandemic will still have a Red Pen influence.
Armed with a pantomime fairy’s magic wand rather than Madame Arcati’s crystal ball from Blithe Spirit, when what we need is a jab in the arm pronto, Charles Hutchinson picks out potential highlights from the New Year ahead that York will start in Tier 3.
Back on screen: Velma Celli, Large & Lit In Lockdown Again, streaming on January 8
AFTER his “Fleshius Creepius” panto villain in York Stage’s Jack And The Beanstalk, Ian Stroughair was planning to pull on his drag rags for a live Velma Celli show in January, and maybe more shows to follow, at his adopted winter home of Theatre @41 Monkgate.
Instead, he writes: “Darlings, as we head back into a lockdown in York, I am back on the streaming! My first show is next Friday at 8pm. I would love you to join me for an hour of camp cabaret fun! Get those requests and shout-outs in!” Tickets for Virtual Velma start at £10 via http://bit.ly/3nVaa4N; expect an online show every Friday from Ian’s new riverside abode.
Open-air one-off event of the summer: Shed Seven, The Piece Hall, Halifax, June 26
FRESH from releasing live album Another Night, Another Town as a reminder of what everyone has had to miss in 2020, Shed Seven have confirmed their Piece Hall headliner in Halifax has been rearranged for next summer.
The Sheds have picked an all-Yorkshire support bill of Leeds bands The Wedding Present and The Pigeon Detectives and fast-rising fellow York act Skylights. For tickets, go to lunatickets.co.uk or seetickets.com.
Most anticipated York exhibition of 2021: Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years, York Art Gallery, May 28 to September 5
CHANNEL 4’s champion of people’s art in lockdown, Grayson Perry, will present his Covid-crocked 2020 exhibition of “lost pots” at the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) next spring and summer instead.
The Pre-Therapy Years reassembles Perry’s earliest forays into ceramics; 70 “explosive and creative works” he made between 1982 and 1994. Look out too for the potter, painter, TV presenter and social commentator’s existentialist September 6 gig at York Barbican: Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People, wherein he will “distract you from the very meaninglessness of life in the way only a man in a dress can”.
A pantomime in the spring? Yes, The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime in a tent on Knavesmire, York, March 19 to April 11
CHRIS Moreno, director of Three Bears’ Productions four pantomimes at the Grand Opera House from 2016 to 2019, will direct York’s first ever “tentomime”, Aladdin, this spring with a cast of “21 colourful characters”.
The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime will be presented in the luxurious, heated Tented Palace, Knavesmire, in a socially distanced configuration compliant with Covid-19 guidance.
The big top will have a capacity of 976 in tiered, cushioned seating, while the stage will span 50 metres, comprising a palace façade, projected scenery and magical special effects. Look out for the flying carpets.
Falling in love again with theatre: The Love Season at York Theatre Royal, February 14 to April 21
ON December 15, York Theatre Royal announced plans to reopen on St Valentine’s Day for The Love Season, with the audience capacity reduced from 750 to a socially distanced 345.
Full details will be confirmed in the New Year with tickets going on sale on January 8, and that remains the case, says chief executive Tom Bird, after hearing yesterday afternoon’s statement to the House of Commons by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
“We’re carrying on with our plans, including presenting Coronation Street and Broadchurch actor Julie Hesmondhalgh in husband Ian Kershaw’s one-woman play, The Greatest Play In The History Of The World, from February 16 to 20,” he confirmed.
Six of the best at York Barbican in 2021
YORK Barbican has remained closed since the March lockdown, foregoing even the UK Snooker Championships in November and December.
A reopening date is yet to be announced but mark these shows in your diary, if only in pencil: Rob Brydon, A Night Of Songs & Laughter, April 14; Jimmy Carr, Terribly Funny, May 2; country duo The Shires, May 23; Van Morrison, May 25 and 26; Paul Weller, June 29, and Rufus Wainwright, Unfollow The Rules Tour, October 13.
Anniversary celebration of the year: York Open Studios, April 17 and 18; 24 and 25, 10am to 5pm
2020 turned into a virtual Open Studios with displays online and in windows, but already 140 artists and makers are confirmed for the 20th anniversary event in the spring when they will show and sell their work within their homes and workspaces.
Many of 2020’s selected artists have deferred their space to 2021, but new additions will be announced soon, the website teases. “We’re channelling the optimism and enthusiasm from all our artists to ensure this year’s 20th show is one of the best,” says event co-founder and ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel.
And what about?
Festivals galore, as always, in the self-anointed “City of Festivals”. Coming up are the Jorvik Viking Festival; York Fashion Week; York Literature Festival; York Early Music Festival; York Festival of Ideas, the Aesthetica Short Film Festival and more besides.
JUDY Burnett and Lynne Porter are to hold a joint exhibition at Jenny Morten’s bright new gallery in the Old Town, Bridlington.
International ceramicist Jenny has opened the Morten Gallery in the High Street after returning from working and teaching in California.
Running there from September 19 to October 31 will be Judy and Lynne’s show of new works entitled Bridlington And The Wolds: Through The Artist’s Eye. Both artists will be at the Saturday launch between 1pm and 4pm to discuss their work.
York artist Judy, a regular participant in York Open Studios at her home studio by the River Ouse in New Walk, has loved studying the Yorkshire coastline since her student days in Hull.
Every vacation, she worked at a restaurant perched on the cliff edge at North Landing, Flamborough, and latterly she has been re-visiting these favourite cliff-top areas.
“Flamborough Head has a magical quality, and I constantly attempt to capture the majesty of the monumental cliffs and the huge expanses of sea and sky in my paintings,” says Judy.
“The white cliffs take on different tones in the changing light and the grasses on the cliff tops move in the wind as the waves roll below.”
In her paintings, rapid mark-making is balanced with areas of flat colour and textured surfaces, aiming to keep the work fresh and spontaneous while echoing the power of the elements.
Just south of Flamborough Head lies Bridlington, a seaside town with “a totally different atmospheric quality,” Judy says. “The wide-open golden beaches of the two Bridlington bays appear to be endless when the tide recedes; the wide vistas of sand, sea and sky contrast with the busy visual activity of boats in the harbour,” she notes.
Judy’s work begins with observational sketchbook studies on-site and is developed in her York studio with acrylic paints and hand-printed paper collage. “The resulting mixed-media paintings reflect the transient effects of the ever-changing weather, from hazy mists to brilliant sunshine,” she says.
Fellow exhibitor Lynne Porter, who lives on the Yorkshire coast, is a mixed-media artist who works in oils, acrylics, charcoal and collage.
Her paintings are rooted in her meditative experience of studying the woods, hills and valleys of the Wolds, as well as the coastline.
“My work concerns my interaction with the landscape,” she says. “I’m inspired by the coast and countryside and I love to experiment, being particularly driven by texture and colour.
“I work on location, going out into the landscape and making loose, painterly sketches, using all my senses to get the right expressive feel.”
Once back in the studio, Lynne’s intuition takes over as she tears selected areas out of the sketches to set the making of her abstract paintings in motion.
“These are pasted into sketchbooks. I may then add collage and/or mark making to these,” she says. “The results inspire the paintings and, I hope, capture that ‘sense of place’.”.
Meanwhile, Jenny has opened an annexe to her gallery to display the entire archive of her late husband, artist Geoff Morten. More than 1,000 works are on show, ranging from large canvasses to small paintings, etchings to monoprints.
AFTER 26 years under Terry Brett’s stewardship, Pyramid Gallery is showing signs of Rust…but in a good way.
On the first floor of the Stonegate premises in York, he is exhibiting rust prints and paintings by Rogues Atelier artist, upholsterer and interior designer Jo Walton until the end of September.
In these Covid-compromised times, the works can be viewed Monday to Saturday, from 10am to 5pm, with access restricted to a maximum single group up to six people or two separate groups of one or two at any one time. Alternatively, take a look online at pyramidgallery.com.
Jo’s works are abstract, inspired by horizons, whether rust prints on paper and plaster, combining rusted metal with painting, or seascapes on gold-metal leaf.
“Jo uses rust and rusted metal sheets in innovative ways to create art works,” says Terry. “Iron filings are used as ‘paint’ and as they rust, reactions occur, every painting being unique and unrepeatable.
“Jo also uses oils to paint sea and landscapes onto gold and silver lead, resulting in deep, rich and unique paintings.”
Her artwork reflects both her childhood in Australia and her days, as a young woman, spent sailing oceans, from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean.
After many years of travelling, Jo returned to England, studying fine art at Bradford University and now exhibiting all year round – until the Covid lockdown – from her York studios, Rogues Atelier, an old tannery in Franklins Yard, Fossgate, that she shares with jeweller and fellow York Open Studios exhibitor Emma Welsh and international textile artist Robert Burton.
In her “other life”, Jo is an upholsterer, initially learning her skills from making cushions and sail covers for yachts when living in Greece. She gained her City and Guilds qualification in modern and traditional upholstery and has taught the subject for many years for City of York Council.
“Occasionally, my skills have the opportunity to blend into a ‘huge blank canvas’: interior design,” says Jo, who founded and designed the Space 109 community arts centre in Walmgate, York, in 2006, along with creating and teaching many of the art and community projects there.
She later converted three empty shops on Bishopthorpe Road into Angel on The Green, a bar and café and home to comedy nights and exhibitions that had to “flow with a solid theme throughout”. “It was quite a step to move on to a bar from a community project,” she says.
In between, Jo created the Rogues Atelier studios, where she takes on upholstery commissions and runs upholstery and cushion-making workshops. In Leeds, she has designed the interior of Rafi’s Spice and the Bluebird Bakery, both in Kirkgate Market.
Defining her artwork, Jo says: “My paintings are an attempt to capture memories, an intrinsic feeling, a distant dream. As a child I travelled to and from Australia by sea. Since then, in my adult years, I’ve spent many days, nights, years, sailing around the Mediterranean, across the Atlantic, in the Gulf of Aqaba, the Red Sea, the Irish Channel and Bay of Biscay. Each day and night providing a wonderful visual feast of clouds, sea, sun-setting and moon-rising.
“I used to deliver yachts worldwide with a minimal crew. Then, the birth of my daughter Blythe served as a beautiful anchor, which landed me in England.
“These images are ingrained in my mind and surface through my art, always seeking the horizon and the contrast from the sun or moon. I work on gold or silver metal leaf to illustrate the ever-present light when on the sea.”
Jo has always been fascinated by rust, the colours from burnt orange to umber, its weathered, changing surface and slow development. “The colours resonate with my childhood; memories of Australia with its red earth, running around farms with metal shacks, rusted corrugated roofs, broken machinery,” she says.
“I’ve collected pieces over the years – not knowing what to do with them but unwilling to let these beautiful ‘lumps of junk’ go.”
Eventually, Jo discovered the method of persuading the surface rust to leave its metal and imprint onto paper and fabric. “This has now rendered my objects useful, as well as beautiful. The process is slow and always experimental with only a relatively small amount of control over the end result, which can never be repeated exactly.
“The rust is forever changing, as are the solutions of chemicals on its surface. No two prints are ever the same,” she says. “It feels like alchemy.”
Jo finally found the confidence to produce work by carefully rusting the metal and presenting it as the art in its own right. “It was the initial impact of the rusted object that always mesmerised me,” she says.
“The method to preserve and prevent further rusting of the metal plate has been researched, tried and tested by myself over the past five years to the point where I’m in no doubt of its durability.”
Here Charles Hutchinson puts a series of questions to Jo Walton on the subjects of alchemy, rust, painting, sailing, horizons, studios and teaching.
Is your work a meeting of science (chemistry) and art: the very essence of alchemy?
“It does feel like alchemy to me but I can’t say I’ve studied the science, apart from how to preserve the results.”
It is always said an artist never knows when a work is finished, but eventually has to let go? How do you reach that moment and is it more difficult because of the unpredictable behaviour of the materials you use?
“With the rust pieces, it’s always small adjustments and then waiting to see the results the rusted metal will give. It’s done when it resonates a certain chord for me – same with the paintings. It can be a long process.”
How did you discover your rust-removing technique: was it serendipitous – like the invention of glass – or was it experimental, with a method being applied?
“I got a rust stain on my jeans and it wouldn’t wash out. As a trained printmaker, I thought I can do something with that! So, I started playing with my rust collection…there was a lot of trial and error before I got some really satisfying results.”
At sea, when sailing, you have the horizon in perma-view, but you are always in motion with the movement of the sea below. In your artwork, do you seek to freeze a moment and then for the viewer to release it again?
“I guess so, although you can be in the middle of the Atlantic and sometimes it’s as flat as a pond! It’s like sailing on a mirror.
“I seek to preserve a notion, a dream-like memory of those experiences. I love watching people view my art: some glance and walk straight past and others stare for a long time. Some of those people have sailed oceans too and bought my work. That means so much to me.”
Why is light so important to you in your work?
“I use gold metal leaf to catch and reflect the light in the way that water does. It’s symbolic of the light on the sea.”
How do you achieve that burnished quality in your works?
“Paint and remove, paint again… many thin layers.”
Is it more challenging to work to a limited range of colours or do the works gain more from bringing out everything from that palette?
“My paintings have been compared to etchings, which are fairly limited in colour, but I guess it’s just what I do with that subject matter. With portraits or other subjects, the palette will be totally different.”
You had to forego your sixth successive York Open Studios in April, amid the lockdown. What’s next for you? More exhibitions? Any commissions?
“Covid has wiped out any plans that were in place for most artists and makers. Hopefully next year will be better. I’m very fortunate to be exhibiting with Terry at Pyramid. As far as commissions go – they are carefully considered!”
How does your interior design work, such as for the Angel on The Green on Bishopthorpe Road, differ as an artistic challenge from your artworks?
“Strangely, not much different artistically. I was still seeking to balance the overall image but on a huge canvas, with more ingredients, a lot more planning and paperwork. The big difference was working with a team of great people, which was a lot of fun.”
What has the Rogues Atelier studio brought to your artistic life?
“The possibility to work big, make a huge mess and to participate in events like York Open Studios and the other fairs we do as a group of artists. Rogues Atelier is so central in York that we have a lot of visitors and interest in what we do.”
Do you still sail? If not, do you miss it?
“I stopped sailing when I ended up back in England. I do miss it and often wonder how I’ve ended up so far away from the sea.”
How is the teaching going?
“I don’t teach art anymore as I found that the energy I give to it takes away from the energy I need for my own ideas. I do still love teaching though and hold regular courses in upholstery.”
What is the first piece of advice you give in your upholstery classes?
“Good question. First piece is how to avoid injuring yourself! Second is to not to attempt a winged-back armchair as your first piece…”
Jo Walton is exhibiting Paintings and Rust Prints at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, until September 30.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.”
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.
“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.”
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!”
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.”
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.”
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.”