This last weekend I took part in a local Open Studios art weekend. We were very lucky with the weather, particularly as the Saturday morning brought early rain and some thunder! I wasn’t actually opening up my own studio and instead had been offered a space in the home of another participant alongside another maker. While I have taken part in Open Studios events previously in other areas, I have always been part of a group exhibition, so to actually have to first set up my space and then spend 2 whole days stewarding it was a bit of a shock to the system!
I had been allocated the use of the conservatory which proved to be more than adequate for my needs as I had made a conscious decision to limit what work I took with me. The roof of my own home is full of various pieces which could have easily been included, but I decided that the work on show should all be in the same vein and should really link together as closely as possible. My recent work has taken the form of pencil studies of random people which are subsequently painted on to plain textured backgrounds, isolating the subject in the picture plane so that the viewer has to do all the work and create their own narrative for what the person in the painting is doing. Some of the first images have been culled from the pages of popular media and are intended as a comment on contemporary society; others are from my own random street photography, capturing anonymous individuals doing various activities from window shopping to taking part in the London Tweed Run. I realise that the work is most definitely an acquired taste and is not something that will appeal to a wide ranging audience, but I believe in it and I see a place for it, somewhere!
My work at Open Studios
A second thing about this particular body of work is that it is for the most part very small. The largest piece of the girl with an umbrella measures 40cms X 60cms and the smallest block canvasses being only 15cms X 15 cms, with the majority of pieces being 42 cms X 30 cms. I had made a conscious decision to restrict the size mainly to allow me to get back in to the swing of painting after not having painted anything for several years. It has helped mt to build up my confidence and I now feel able and equipped to make larger work.
My host, Irma of Creations by Irma makes small sculptural pieces using fabric and a fabric hardener called Paverpol. (A blog post about this medium can be found on this blog), and many of her creations can be found in unexpected places in her unique garden which is a sort of cross between the Hundertwasser Kunst Haus in Vienna and Steptoe’s yard with minimalist alpine planting. The whole makes for a pleasant and interesting outdoor space, and a garden that is quite unlike any I have ever seen or visited before. At the far end of this intriguing yard sits Irma’s studio outside which she was displaying some of her quirky sculptures. Opposite the studio stands a small irregular shaped summer-house which was acting as the temporary home for the canine inspired ceramics of Susan from Tail End Arts.
Paverpol figures made by Irma of Creations by Irma
Everything “Dog” – ceramics by Susan of Tail End Arts
An old shop dummy head wears a hat soaked in Paverpol to harden and waterproof it makes an unexpected appearance in the flower border.
Interesting and eclectic display of blue and white bric-a-brac adds a different dimension to the outdoor space
Despite the fine weather, across the weekend visitor numbers were low, but despite that all three of us made some sales of our work. I was particularly surprised as I had not expected to sell anything! Obviously there are many reasons for low visitor numbers, and I am sure that the days would have seemed less long with more visitors. So, would I do another? Difficult to say at the moment, I think if I did then I would open up my own studio (although I do live in a rural area about 8 miles from the town where I was based this weekend) and perhaps invite another person to join me and hope that people came to visit us! Perhaps I have been a bit spoiled over time by only showing my work in gallery exhibitions, still this weekend was an experience and an eye opener leaving me with plenty to think about for the future.