Art blog: York Open Studios and the art to see this month, April 2014

Art in progress at The Road Through York project
2 Apr 2014 @ 11.03 am
| News
Art in progress at The Road Through York project
Art in progress at The Road Through York project

jayne-headshotTwelve months after starting her art column, Jayne Dwyer is back on the road


It is a year since I wrote my first art blog for YorkMix. This year has passed so quickly (they do once you’re on the other side of the hill). Spring is here once more. I am as giddy as a daffodil in the March winds as I eagerly await Easter themed treats.

My SAD has been given the boot. I am GLAD (I will think of an acronym later). The birds are singing from my TV aerial and York’s cyclists are frolicking like lambs, bouncing around my little Corsa.

And here I am again, once more thumbing through the York Open Studios’ brochure making plans for the coming weekends.

I have always loved YOS, for that opportunity to have a sneaky peek into other people’s homes. The “new” bijou is already looking “lived in” and I am like a magpie, stealing ideas from other people’s houses.

Incidentally, YOS is also a fab opportunity to meet the artists and browse leisurely. I think I said last year, it is also a chance to socialise and I always use it as an opportunity to catch up with my one or more of my increasingly neglected friends.

York’s newest gallery

This year, one of York’s newest art spaces, Blossom Street Gallery, has been hosting The YOS launch exhibition, which gives a taster of some of the artists’ work.

The selected artists were asked to produce a special piece of work on the theme of the Grand Départ. At the entrance of what was once the original gateway to the city, this small exhibition is contributing to something of an historic occasion.

Whilst her piece was in its first stages of design, Magdalena Thaller (Lena), showed me her emerging piece for the gallery.

It was hard to envisage how the Grand Départ could be represented in the medium of beadwork, but Magdalena explained to me how each of the series of beads and jewels in her piece would symbolise the race: the medallists, the racers, the crowds and the route.

The finished piece is stunning, and has already been sold but if you sprint up to Blossom Street, you may catch it before it makes its own départ.

This is Magdalena’s first year exhibiting for YOS. She makes unique jewellery, working with crystal beads, stones, pearls and soutache braid.

Her pieces are inspired by historical costume and she combines Victorian bead weaving and Russian soutache techniques. You can view more of her work at her home in Bishopthorpe Road, during the YOS weekend.

I will also be interviewing her during YOS weekend for a series of Meet the artist interviews.

More grand désigns

Kim Oldfield, from the gallery, approached YOS offering precious wall space for artists and the theme of the Grand Départ was suggested by event organiser, Peter Donohoe.

All the artists featured, have interpreted this in their own unique way. Regular exhibitor, David Patrick has produced Grand Départ at York Station, portraying hordes of bikes, parked up on the platform.

A popular piece has been Judy Burnett’s Cycle Crazy in York, which encapsulates the excited frenzy we can expect, and features our biggest landmarks: the Minster and Clifford’s Tower.

Stefan Philipps, who last year made us smile with his chicken bone sculptures, has the quirky edge.

His white and blue bone china plate would look at home with the Willow Patterns my mum used to collect. On a second glance, you see it features a tyre mark and the remnants of one of Stefan’s feathered friends.

It is difficult to choose a favourite in this exhibition, but there is some collectable stuff here. You don’t have to know your Lance Armstrong from your man on the moon to get caught up in the Grand Départ fever that is heading our way.

I would love to own any one of these little snapshots of history in the making.

I think my favourite, however, is Emily Harvey’s Chenin Faisat, which Google tells me means something like “en route”. (My CSE French only covered the Lafayette family and their chien.)

Emily’s piece conveys something of the speed of the race. We get the sense that the bikes have passed or are passing, winding themselves around the trees.

This exhibition continues until the April 13 and is a great starting point and taster for the main Open Studios. You can also pick up the purple brochure from here, which will guide you through the rest of the events.

Shelling out for art

Richard Mackness: Head forms
Richard Mackness: Head forms

During the events, I will be skipping over to St Mary’s in Bootham to see Richard Mackness and his “head forms examining technology and consumerism” as I am as intrigued by the artist as the art.

Earlier in the year, at a YOS workshop, this gentle giant had his students crafting delicate shells out of clay; the images for his forthcoming appearance suggest something a little more hardcore.

I will also be looking forward to meeting some of the newcomers, the YOS fledglings, such as Shona MacPherson, Marzena Madziag and Ruth Beloe.

Also, embracing the Grand Départ and playing homage with art, is City of York Council and The Road Through York, Tour de France Land Art Project.

An open invite was sent to amateur artists from adult education classes, residential homes, schools and charitable organisations to attend a workshop in March. The aim is to recreate an original piece by artist, Karen Winship and several more workshops will take place to complete the project.

The piece will consist of 320 sections, painted by the public and will eventually go on display at York Racecourse in July.

If you are interested in this project, send Claire an email by clicking here.

So whether, you’ve got a spring in your step or a spoke in your wheel, here’s a thing or two to get giddy about this spring.

Art to see in April

York Open Studios, various venues across the city. April 4, 5, 6, 12 and 13

Ceaser Gallery, Micklegate, Northern Landscape Photography. Plus, official launch of the new “limited edition photograph” wall – 60 free tickets for the launch event on April 25

The Road Through York, Tour de France Land Art Project workshops. Booking essential – register an interest via email or ring Claire on 07990 774420. April 10-12 at York Railway Institute, Queen’s Street.

Mermaid and Miller’s Spring Show, Mermaid and Miller, Swinegate, Artworks, upcycled furniture and more, April 1-30

A Woman’s View Exhibition (Janine Baldwin, Anne Davies, Bren Head & Giuliana Lazzerini), Blue Tree Gallery, 23 Bootham until April 21