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.