Monday, 4 May 2015

So, what is this Open Studios thing, anyway?

So, you've spotted the signs. "Open Studio", they say, "this way". Stereotypically, they lead you a merry dance down obscure roads, winding up at someone's house, where you are invited into the garden shed and offered a cup of tea and a fairy cake...

Well, maybe. Maybe not. I, for example, don't have a trail of signs. But I'm on the main commercial street in the village, in a recognisable large (and non-residential) building that has its own car park and doorbells for each "suite". And I keep forgetting about the tea.

But what is Open Studios?

Open Studios, sometimes referred to as an Arts Trail, is a concept adopted in many places by groups of artists who live - and work - in those areas. The idea is that the artists all elect to "open" during a certain period, with information made available to the public so that know when and where to go.

Ideally, the open space should be the artist's own work space, but in practice, this isn't aways possible. So you may find a small group of artists sharing a space, or perhaps one or two borrowing or renting a space.

I'm lucky in that my studio space is very suitable for opening to the public every now and then. It is quite easy to find, on the ground floor, and it has its own car park.


I'm doing two Open Studio Schemes this year (West Berkshire and North Hampshire, in May, and Hampshire, in August), and it is evident that they are quite different in a number of ways. 


I have a theory about the names of places and their sizes. It's not entirely serious but it works fairly well for the names of villages and, it seems, for the names of Open Studio Schemes. In general, the theory is that the longer the name, the smaller the place. My theory further supposes that this is because big places are easier to locate and to describe with a name, and that more people are likely to be familiar with a larger place, so it only needs a short name.

(This is why "Kingston Upon Hull" is known as "Hull", or, in the vernacular, "'Ull".)

Have you noticed that "Hampshire" is short and snappy? It's also far larger, geographically, than the cumbersomely named West Berkshire and North Hampshire - which is still larger in area than some.


West Berkshire and North Hampshire insist on approving artists' work before letting them join. They call this process accreditation, and it is only necessary once.

Hampshire don't accredit. I think they rely on a sort of self-approval process; if you aren't confident of the value of your own work, you would be less likely to join the scheme.


There are often more formal exhibitions associated with Open Studio events. The West Berkshire and North Hampshire Open Studios that I am part of (and which is currently happening) has several, chief among which is INSIGHT. I have two paintings there. I also have work at the Cover to Cover Sketchbook exhibition.

I'm not aware of any exhibitions associated with the Hampshire Open Studios.

Cups of Tea

One of the reasons that I am so bad at remembering to offer tea or coffee to guests is that I don't often drink either myself. I don't even like the traditionally English tea!

Coming soon (I hope) ... more about:

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