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Fabulous and free: York Open Studios

April 27, 2017

Mark Hearld’s work is much sought after. He is opening up his studio for York Open Studios

If you’re looking for something interesting, inspiring and free to do this bank holiday weekend, April 29 and 30,  we can highly recommend the York Open Studios. It’s a wonderful event that sees more than 100 artists and makers open their workplaces to the public.

Some are based in shared workshops and others open up their home studios, which is a treat for those of us with an interest in interiors. My day job involves writing about “real homes” and I can honestly say that artists and makers have the best. Quite often they don’t have lots of cash to spend on their decor but their creativity, eye for design and confidence with colour is worth more than any blank cheque.

Among those taking part in the open studios are painters, potters, sculptors, jewellery makers, furniture makers and glass artists. Printmakers include Alan Coates, whose etchings are influenced by old photographs, and Gerard Hobson, a trained zoologist, whose love of nature is reflected in his linoprints. Ceramic lovers are spoilt for choice with renowned studio potters Ruth King, Loretta Braganza and Ben Arnup all opening up their studios, along with new talents.

Ceramics by Harriet McKenzie

Jane Redfern, who specialises in arts marketing and PR, helps promote the event and says: “This is a chance to see art in the place where it was made, in spaces which are rarely open to the public, from townhouses and cottage workshops to rustic garden sheds.”

Lauren Terry aka Laurens Cows, specialises in paintings of cows.

I’m a big fan of Mark Hearld and his partner Emily Sutton. Their paintings, screenprints and collages have a magical quality. I’ve also visited their townhouse and it’s eccentric, eclectic and absolutely fascinating.

Collage by Mark Hearld


Sarah Hall Baqai’s house in Fulford is fabulous and full of her papier mache sculptures, paper cuts and lanterns.

Artwork by Sarah Hall Baqai

Photographer Simon Palmour’s home is a lesson in how to update a 1960s property without losing its retro “cool”. His studio and gallery is a lovely light-filled space and his pictures are evocative and mainly stylish sepia and monochrome prints. I especially like his pictures of the Yorkshire Wolds.

Wharram Percy by Simon Palmour

If you are worried about not buying anything then don’t be. There is no compulsion to purchase, though you will almost certainly want to. Artists are just as happy with positive feedback.  The studios are all over York and its surrounding suburbs and villages so you plot a pleasant car journey. If you are worried about parking in central York (as I often am) I suggest taking the train or using one of the Park and Ride schemes. I’ve used the enormous Park and Ride at Poppleton Bar just off the A59 and it offers free parking and a return bus journey into the city centre for £2.90.  It’s bliss compared to driving and parking in the medieval city. (before travelling this weekend don’t forget to check the Tour de Yorkshire cycle route as it could slow you down) http://letour.yorkshire.com/2017

York Open Studios takes place on Saturday, April 29, 10am-6pm and Sunday, April 30, 11am-5pm. For full details and maps of all the studios visit www.yorkopenstudios.co.uk

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