Artists welcome visitors to studios

Harrogate-based ceramicist Anna Whitehouse
Harrogate-based ceramicist Anna Whitehouse
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The popular North Yorkshire Open Studios begins tomorrow. Yvette Huddleston spoke to three of the artists taking part this year.

This year is the tenth anniversary of the North Yorkshire Open Studios and 126 artists will be opening their workshops to the public over the next two weekends.

The event covers a huge geographical area with artists’ studios dotted right across the region from remote villages in the Upper Dales to the streets of Harrogate and York, to the rural North York Moors and the coast. The range of creative talent includes painters, potters, printmakers, stained glass makers, sculptors, jewellers and blacksmiths.

Young Harrogate-based ceramicist Anna Whitehouse is taking part in the event for the fourth year running and is looking forward to welcoming people in to her studio. “What is lovely speaking to people is that because my work is inspired by the Yorkshire landscape often they will have been to the places I have been to.” Her textured porcelain pieces reflect a childhood spent outdoors, walking in the hills, scrambling on rocks and scouring beaches for fossils and shells. “When I was at university in Manchester, because I was living in this concrete jungle, I started making pieces that were recreating a little bit of Yorkshire for me,” she says. “It was an experimentation in tactile forms. I had noticed that in galleries you were never allowed to pick things up and ceramics is such a tactile medium – I want people to pick things up.”

Having set up her studio soon after moving back home to Harrogate in 2010, Whitehouse initially worked part-time in a nursery but is now a full-time artist, supporting her practice by running a series of workshops. “It balances really nicely,” she says. “You are working in the studio on your own and every few weeks having a group of people coming in with fresh ideas and enthusiasm is great.”

Stone sculptor Jennifer Tetlow lives in the village of Lastingham near Pickering and says that she began working in the medium by accident. “I was walking my dog one day and we passed by a quarry. There were some people working in stone and it intrigued me,” she says. “I thought I’d like to have a go and so I asked if I could. I then bought my first hammer and chisel and learned how to work stone and it’s just grown.” She began by making a range of garden ornaments which proved to be a great success at the Harrogate Flower Show and on the back of that was invited to exhibit at Chelsea. “Doing the RHS Horticultural shows got me a lovely customer base and contacts and most of my work is to commission now. It’s just a little miracle that I can create something that somebody wants to buy.”

Tetlow’s work is mostly inspired by wildlife and many of her pieces are based on animal forms. “My workshop is in an old agricultural building in the middle of a field so I can see all sorts of wildlife from there,” she says. “I see stoats, hares, grouse and partridge – those are the things that inspire me. I am very lucky to be there. It’s such a wonderful thing to get up in the morning and feel inspired and happy to go to work.” Tetlow has been involved in the open studios since its inception, missing only one year. “The visitors are just wonderful,” she says. “As artists we lock ourselves away when we are working and the creation of a stone piece is sometimes weeks or months in the making. Open studios is an opportunity for people to see the process and you get that lovely feedback.”

• North Yorkshire Open Studios, June 7 and 8, 14 and 15, 10.30am-5.30pm