York Open Studios 2014

Last night saw the start of York Open Studios and P and I were invited to a friend's opening. Ilona Sulikova makes large-scale coiled pots to die for - beautifully crafted, creatively decorated and bearing the glorious colours unique to raku firing. 
Ilona honed her skills over years working alongside Somali and Sudanese women. I've been a fan ever since she embarked on her raku journey, and unbelievably the pots just get better and better - a real feast for the eyes in colour, pattern, texture and form.
Every pot is different, not only in its geometric shape and surface decoration,  but also in its colour, which depends both on the glaze and the firing.
One of the really neat things I wanted to show you is how perfectly the patterns travel around the pots. They're just as beautiful viewed from top or bottom. Unfortunately, as you might expect, I couldn't get any shots of the bases but here are a few of the tops...
...and some more monotone ones...
As I wandered around I was instinctively drawn to certain pots, like the one below, but as I progressed from pot to pot it got more and more difficult to chose, each one is so special in its own way.
Another aspect of the exhibition I really enjoyed was that the walls were covered with pictures of the raku process. This added another dimension to the experience for me and Sue Brown's images were great. I really wanted to show them to you so I took a few pictures to give you a taste of the procedure. With apologies to Sue, they certainly don't do the originals justice - the lights in the room were reflecting too much added light onto them.
Ilona pours sawdust into the flames over the pot to create smoke
Pot being hosed down after firing
The cooling process
Similar finished pot
Out of the kiln
Raku firing is a wonderfully dramatic and exciting process, almost like alchemy. Seeing Sue's pictures brought back lovely memories of an occasion years ago when Ilona was first exploring ways with raku. She brought a portable kiln to Wales and we had a great time making pots in the garden. We were all like kids in a sweet shop when the pyrotechnics started - sawdust flying over fired clay, the smoke and flames of the conflagration,  and best of all the amazement when each finished piece had been magically transformed with its own unique glowing colour.
Need a steady hand for this!!
Another beauty in the making
It was a fabulous evening and great to see so many old friends there too. So if you live anywhere near York, then all I can say is get yourself down to the Holmfield Community Centre, Heslington (close to the university) where you can see all this and much more for yourself - you won't be disappointed!
It's worth making a weekend of it and following the Open Studios trail around other artists' studios too. York Open Studios runs this weekend and next - April 4th, 5th & 6th and April 12th and 13th.

Be interested to know which are your favourites? 


  1. Janice Sumpton5 April 2014 at 15:35

    They are all so beautiful Jean. I think the first picture I like the best. Love the pics from the top! Gorgeous!

  2. Jean, thanks for the beautiful pictures and "tour". All of the vases are beautiful!

  3. Inspiration ! I can see knitted things from these.... somehow...

  4. Raku is such a miracle-making process. It seems as if you saw a master's work in this open studio. I would love to have any one of those pots to look at every day. The colors are imaginative, and the graphic patterning really suit the spriraling designs.

    Wow! It's also cool that you and yours have actually done some experimenting in your very own home. There really does seem to be a link in the love of color and manipulation of colors and design that connects this raku pottery and knitting.

    Thank you also for the link to the other open studios. xo


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