North Yorkshire Open Studios

Artists to Look out for at North Yorkshire Open Studios

Luxe takes a look at some of the inspiring artists and studios taking part in North Yorkshire Open Studios this weekend 8 – 9 June

Art takes on many forms and resonates with different people in different ways. It’s incredible that we can take one piece of art away with us – without an understanding of the meaning, the process and the person behind the work – and it can hold an important space in our homes and hearts. Simply because it creates a feeling.

So the chance to explore an artist’s creative space is something really special. Cue North Yorkshire Open Studios (NYOS) – a not-for-profit community working to support hundreds of painters, sculptors, print-makers, jewellers, ceramicists, photographers and creatives who live and work in North Yorkshire.

The open studio event, now in its 17th year, brings together a record 170 artists opening their doors for two weekends in June: 1-2 and 8-9, from 10am to 5pm. It’s an exciting opportunity for art-lovers to gain access to the creative spaces that play home to the work of emerging and established artists across the region.

The event invites people to go on a journey of discovery; to explore and unearth the region in all its beauty, seeing it through the eyes of some really inspiring creatives.

The art studio trail covers coastal spots in Scarborough, through to scenic National Parks including the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales, and the Nidderdale National Landscape, alongside picturesque villages and vibrant market towns.

Visit the North Yorkshire Open Studios website to plan an art tour.

The Artists

Dotty Earl at North Yorkshire Open Studios

North Yorkshire Open Studios

Living in a small village in North Yorkshire, Dotty spent many years as an artist and animator within the computer games industry, she illustrated several books, published worldwide, and created art for clothing lines.

She now works with mixed media: watercolour with pastel and coloured pencil, with a smidge of charcoal and ink pen, to give a whimsical feel. Her work often has a somewhat nostalgic air; her piece ‘Big Night In’, appeared in Grayson’s Art Club on Channel 4.

In the summer of 2020, Dotty participated in the Portraits for NHS Heroes initiative – one of which was included in the ‘Portraits for NHS Heroes’ coffee table book published by Bloomsbury Publishing.

Dotty said: “I have always loved animation – it’s such an amazing art form – so watching the very early Disney films and Warner Bros cartoons definitely inspired me to pick up a pencil. As for my own work, I enjoy humour in art so, in turn, I would like my pictures to make someone else smile.”

North Yorkshire, she said, has featured in her art: “North Yorkshire has played a part in several pieces of my work, with backgrounds of York and Saltburn, as well as featuring rolling hills and sheep! I also have a number of new Yorkshire based pieces lined up for the near future.”

Dotty added: “I’ve been lucky enough to work as an artist for more than 30 years now. I spent a long time working digitally, in the computer games industry, before I returned to paper, and began drawing pictures for myself – something which I didn’t think I would ever do long-term. I am so glad that I did, though: I absolutely love my job!”

Garth Bayley at North Yorkshire Open Studios

North Yorkshire Open Studios

Garth is project manager of NYOS but is also an accomplished artist, whose work captures movement and moments in time, or ‘the heart of moments’ – his latest series portrays dancers from the Northern Ballet. Originally a chef in South Africa, he turned to art when he relocated to the UK.

Garth said: “My work has become very much about people and movement. Capturing people in dance was the first step working from photos, then I turned to the mechanics of cyclists, and this led onto horse racing.

“Life drawing and people is still a major part of my practice and recently I had the opportunity to work with Northern Ballet, drawing on the side of the studios while they danced.”

Garth moved to North Yorkshire in lockdown 2020.

“This isolation gave me a love of the local landscape and it’s become a big part of my current practice. I like nothing more than to escape into the moors and find a quiet spot where you see no-one for hours. It’s a place to recharge and find harmony in my paintings.”

His studios in Stokesley look over a natural lake, teeming with birdlife.

Martin Lever at North Yorkshire Open Studios

North Yorkshire Open Studios

Martin’s studio is in Swaledale, but his art is inspired by his previous home – Hong Kong.

The multi award-winning artist is raising funds for an international human rights’ charity, with his exhibition, Silent Protest. After launching in London, the exhibition is in Manchester from April, then Yorkshire in the summer.

Another focus is his latest collection, a series of abstract groundscapes, ‘What the Angels See’ inspired by his late mother, and her love of North Yorkshire. It captures the county’s ever-changing light and landscapes from an imagined celestial point of view.

Martin said: “My wife bought me an easel around the same time my mother passed away in the late 90s, and my initial works were the purest form of art therapy as I explored a variety of self-taught styles and subjects.


“Before becoming a full-time artist, I worked in advertising. Painting became a release from the day job at the time – somewhere I could escape from this high stress industry, and where there were no limits on my creative vision. I lived in Hong Kong for over 40 years (before returning to the UK in 2022) – and the majority of my artworks were Asian-inspired. I am now creating a whole new body of work inspired by my new home in the Dales!”

Martin had his first solo show in Hong Kong in 2002, and has since exhibited at numerous art fairs in Asia, the Middle East, London, and the north.

He said: “One of the reasons for relocating from Hong Kong to North Yorkshire in 2022 was the breathtaking drama of the natural environment and how this could inspire a whole new body of artwork.”

Martin is donating 10% of the online sales of his limited edition prints this spring to the Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team. He lives in a hamlet in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, called Marrick, with a studio in the ruins of an old 18th century mining cottage in his back garden, with views over Swaledale.

Sandra Storey at North Yorkshire Open Studios

North Yorkshire Open Studios

Always interested in traces of the past found in objects and landscape, Sandra has focused on the idea of pilgrimage for the last year or two.

Sandra said: “My perspective is non- religious, though the connection between earth and spirit is unavoidable when walking these paths. My walks were St Hilda’s Pilgrimage (Hinderwell to Whitby, North Yorkshire) and remembered walks from childhood, sometimes a crossover of the two.

“Shrines, talismans, and revered objects have also been central with a secular focus based in the natural world.”

The work culminated in an exhibition ‘Pilgrimage: making tracks, leaving traces’ at Zillah Bell Gallery, Thirsk, alongside fellow printmaker Alison Britton (February 2024).

Her inspiration is very much the landscape of Yorkshire. Sandra grew up in a village just outside Whitby: “I was used to the closeness of the moors and sea. As an adult, living away from that place, it took on almost mythical proportions in my imagination.

“The North York Moors, and especially the road from Pickering to Whitby, give me a strong sense of returning home, physically, and emotionally.

Inspiration and Background

“Leaving the landscape of my childhood has always been a driving force behind my work. More specifically, a sense of loss and need to immerse myself back in the landscape of the North York Moors led me to focus on places or objects that were charged with that emotional connection.

“Now, I live not far away from those places and am still motivated by the drama of the landscape and traces of the past that are evoked by places and objects. Printmaking as a process is also a great source of inspiration, Inking up a printmaking plate, then wiping away the ink to see what emerges, still holds the excitement of discovering archaeological treasure. It’s like finding the image that was there all along.”

Sandra gained a degree in Fine Art, then trained as an Art Psychotherapist, working in the NHS and as an independent practitioner for over thirty years.

Sandra said: “I remain fascinated with the creative process and the psychological significance of images we make. During a more recent Creative Practice M.A, I was Artist in Residence at Whitby Museum. Many ideas converged at this point, particularly the role of objects in our lives.

“I enjoy the parallels between objects displayed in a museum and the way we all display objects that are meaningful to us on mantlepieces, sills or shelves.”

Her studio is in central Harrogate.