Take a walk around the city next month and you will find paintings and prints, sculptures and ceramics, furniture and fabrics, jewellery and glass, all behind the doors of York Open Studios. JO HUGHES reports.

ARTISTS love to know that people are interested in the art they make, and they love to meet the people who buy their work.

“It’s good to know that the art we make will be in somebody’s home, we appreciate that. We don’t do it for ourselves,” says Robin Grover-Jacques, one of several artists new to York Open Studios this year.

“We enjoy the fact that people come and talk to us. Art can be isolating, we spend a lot of time alone and it’s nice to spend time with other people.”

All agree they love the chance to open the doors of their homes, studios, garages, garden sheds, or share an exhibition space in one of York’s beautiful buildings, a school, or a gallery.

Even the most famous artists who have national and international recognition – such as Sally Arnup, Mark Hearld, and his partner Emily Sutton – still relish the chance to open their doors and invite in anyone who wants to take a look.

For art love it is an exciting journey and in a relatively short space of time offers the chance to meet and see the work of some of the most experienced and established artists working in Britain today.

You can watch the work of a skilled stained glass artist, Ann Sotheran, whose windows can be seen in churches all over the country, or take a workshop with Ben Arnup, a ceramicist whose illusory stoneware pots are in collections across the world, or visit the homes of some of York’s great painters – there are a lot to choose from.

At the same time it offers the chance to see new ideas in the making, and the development of new artists, many of whom are opening their doors for the first time this year.

Installation artist Penelope Whitworth promises to show you York in a new way at the New School House Gallery; Doug James is showing his cubed sculptures playing on imaginary memories for the first time in Skeldergate; Fiona Calder makes digital prints using drawing, painting and graphic design; Marcus Jacka makes furniture; Jake Colley is showing his 3D lighting design.

By joining in you become part of a conversation about art in a city that boasts and supports a flourishing community.

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In the past 15 years, the Open Studios event has introduced 180 new artists to the city; this year there are more than 90 artists taking part. And what better way of finding a work of art that you really like than going along and meeting the artist who made it, and finding out all about them and their work.

Trends for buying art, hand-made crafts and furnishings directly from the maker, reflected in the success of many art sales websites, mean that more people are happy to go along and commission work for themselves, whatever their budget.

“I make bespoke jewellery and I’m open to commissions as well. People know they will be getting something fresh and new,” says Ellie Crosby, who makes individually designed contemporary silver and glass jewellery inspired by 1940s and 1950s fabric for between £25 and £125. She and Beccy Ridsdel, a ceramicist, work as tutors at York College and will be showing their work together in Tadcaster Road at the house of sculptor, Peter Donaghoe.

“Nowadays young artists are taught a business component in their degree course, they are taught to take into account the overheads and costing,” says Beccy, whose distinctive vintage styled ‘peeled plates’ are becoming highly sought after in America.

“I make a lot of my sales through my website, recently I sold to a gallery in Texas, and I have had an exhibition in New York. I do sell through Open Studios, some years more than others. What’s nice about the studios is to have that relationship with people, and for people to come and talk to you about your work, I like people to ask me how I do things, and have that conversation,” says Beccy.

This year they are joined for the first time by former teachers Jane Dignum, a mixed media printmaker, and Liz Foster, a professional painter, printmaker and textiles designer, who uses typography.

Liz, a former graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, gave up teaching to have her son, Joey, six years ago, and has been making things ever since. She designs vibrant cushions, lampshades, textiles for the home, with bold typography. “It gives me the chance to network with other artists and it promotes my work,” she says.

Jane says; “I have visited Open Studios for years, it’s amazing, you don’t know what’s going on behind those doors until you visit. There are so many different approaches, you can do it any way you want really. It is a big step putting yourself out there to everyone, you have to be confident and ready. I have a vast amount of prints, I need an audience for them.”

York Open Studios take place on the weekends of April 17 to 19 and April 25 to 26. For a brochure and a list of opening times, visit yorkopenstudios.co.uk