Out & About

Out & About: Yorkshire Artspace Open Studios

Yorkshire Artspace opened its doors to the public this November.

Home to over 140 artists and craftspeople over 4 sites in Sheffield, it is one of the largest creative communities in the UK.

Its annual open studio event gives the public a rare chance to see inside its buildings and meet the makers in the process.

Pretty Nice went along to Persistence Works to see the work on display and chat to the inspiring northern designers who occupy the studios.

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Persistance Works is the flag ship building of Yorkshire Artspace. The first purpose built studio complex in the UK, it is used by over 80 makers and crafts people from many different mediums. Open since the millennium there was a lot to see in its 53 studios over 6 floors!


Piers Williams – Painter

Starting from the top floor, Piers Williams is the first studio you will come across. A fine art painter for over 30 years, Piers is a very welcoming and warm chap.

Born in Hong Kong but currently living in Sheffield with his wife Hailin, he takes inspiration from the various places he’s lived and worked around the world throughout his career.

Originally a painter of race horses, Piers has gone on to do portraits and landscapes, from billionaire businessmen to the great wall of China.

His recent work is mainly focused on flowers with close up painting not too dissimilar to Georgia O’Keeffe. However Piers was quick to point out that he uses a more layered technique, no more clearly seen in his silk screen prints below.

Unable to use a silk screen press himself, Piers creates his floral paintings in a series of layers before giving his designs to his friend Rupert to press.

The effects of this technique produces crisp and eye catching prints from only 8 colours.

We are a big fan of this retro process, although Piers explained it has come a long way since the Pop Art days of Andy Warhol.


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Emilie Taylor – Ceramics

Emilie Taylor produces pieces for both private and public collections, with her work exhibited all over the UK.

Emilie aims to social engage with her ceramics, taking inspiration from the people of Sheffield.

The work on display in her studio was taken from her new “Manor & Castle” pieces. Focusing on the young residents of Sheffield’s Manor and Castle Estate the young locals become saints or “bus stop Madonnas”.

The mix of everyday scenes and fine art friezes makes a refreshing and juxtaposed collection, maintaining a classic yet modern feel.

This September Emilie finished a residency at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire and the Manor Estate in Sheffield. The resulting work of  6 “Harvest Jugs” was then installed at the Great Chamber of Chatsworth House, inspired by the painted ceiling of the room by Verrio.

A film of the work and an accompanying event organised as part of the Residency can be viewed here –‘Hymn to Persephone’ Film.


photo 1-3 copyphoto 3-4 photo 4-2 copy DoodleLinesFreeIllustratorBrushes copy Andrew Hunt – Painter

Andrew Hunter’s current work had a particularly northern tone with a greasy cafe and pub among the settings depicted in his paintings.

Andrew aims to create movement and warmth through his use of the brush, working with the texture and drips of the paint on the canvas. Unneccesary detail is swapped for depth and motion helping create a snap shot of everyday life.


photo 1-3 copy 2 photo 2-4 copy 2 photo 3-5 DoodleLinesFreeIllustratorBrushes copy Heather Dewick – Book Binder

The lost art of book binding is beautifully being carried on through the painstaking work of Heather Dewick.

Her studio looks like something out of Diagon Alley with tools and trinckets piled high amongst gorgeous hand bound paper.

Heather both binds and creates the ornate covers for her books, using techniques from the turn of the century.

Although time consuming, her books definitely have a nostalgic, bespoke feel, making for a great gift or personal stationary indulgence.


photo 1-3 copy 3 photo 2-4 copy 3 photo 3-5b photo 4-2d DoodleLinesFreeIllustratorBrushes copy Jo Peel – Mixed Media

If you live in Sheffield you will most likely be acquainted with Jo Peels work . She dabbles in an array of mediums from painting to film-making.

Sheffield’s industrial skyline and crumbling factories make good fodder for Jo’s giant urban murals.

Work such as “Pipe Dreams” and “Things Change” have popped up all over the more fashionable parts of London. Jo has also made recent visits to Japan and Poland with her work.

Closer to home, such site as the the Henderson Relish factory has become a source of inspiration for Jo. Her work with Hunters Bar School entitled “Made in Sheffield” educated pupils in the cities heritage along with teaching them stop motion animation. Check out the film below.


photo 1-3f fgs photo 2-5 photo 3-6 DoodleLinesFreeIllustratorBrushes copy Bob Levene – Mixed Media

Although unassuming at first, Bob Levene’s studio was one of the most fascinating. Her recent work entitled “Hidden Waters” uses data on water processes to map systems that are crucial in day to day life. The map of Britain’s fresh water is enlightening as well beautiful.

Other work on display in Bob’s small studio was “As Far As The Eye Can See”. Using what she could see in the distance at eye level, Bob has translated her view onto a map. This simple technique creates bursts of cartographic imagery which again is interesting as it is eye catching.


photo 1-5j OxleyBankFinal-620x415 DoodleLinesFreeIllustratorBrushes copy Sarah Waterhouse – Textile Printer

Sarah’s bright and retro fabrics are a firm favourite here at Pretty Nice. Using organic cotton and inks her prints are used on everything from cushions to lampshades. 

The studio in which she works in is vast, with a huge silk screen library on the back wall. It takes two people to print the fabric, the squeegee only getting half way before another pair of arms has to take over!

Sarah also holds printing workshops for anyone who wants to give screen printing a go. 


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Rosie Meredith – Sculpture

Taking inspiration from nature, Rosie Meredith uses clay to produce beautiful ceramic sculptures.

These three woodland busts are striking and textured when seen up close. The golden flecks on the clay create an enchanting set of work, bringing out the majesty of these hunted creatures. 

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Penny Withers – Ceramics

Penny Withers has been an in house designer at Persistence Works since it opened in 2001. 

Her “New Manor Ware” collection is currently on display in her studio, inspired by the archeological finds in pottery at Manor Lodge in Sheffield. The ceramic’s distinctive handles were something Penny wanted to replicate in her work. She then fires her handmade ceramics at the Manor’s urban, smokeless wood kiln to produce practical yet traditional jugs and cups. 


photo 2-8dds photo 5b photo 4-5 DoodleLinesFreeIllustratorBrushes copy Coralie Turpin – Sculpture

Coralie shares a huge studio with her husband on the ground floor of Persistence Works. Her work tends to favour the larger side, with past commissions including huge pieces of  public mosaic art.

Much of her public work aims to engage children and encourage them to have a greater ownership of their environment. Coralie works with them and builds on their ideas to help them create works of art that can be used by them and their community. These projects have included everything from a slithering snake seat at Pye Bank Primary to fish gates at Firs Hill School.

When we visited her studio she was currently working on a smaller version of her private “mussel shell” piece. She said this was one of her more conservative pieces, the studio often knee deep in polystyrene trimmings from her massive prototype sculptures.


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