The open studio season is upon us. This weekend you could visit artists and makers in their studios and homes in Brighton, Dulwich and Oxford – to name but a few. The big question is how will you fit everything in?
I spent a pleasant evening yesterday planning a cycle ride round the venues featured in Dulwich Artists’ Open House. It’s now in its seventh year and is bigger than ever with more than 200 artists in 150 venues. My eyes will feast on contemporary art and unique crafts – but I fear my legs my tire from the cycling. It is a small price to pay. Open House is part of the Dulwich Festival and runs for two weekends, 7-8th May and 14-15th May.
Top of my list to visit is Arts Express. They are hosting an exhibition of work by a range of artists including the internationally published illustrator Stephen Appleby to raise funds for Arts Express’ community programme. Arts Express provides people with a hands on experience of making art – be that through stone caring, wood carving, mosaic, printing, painting, construction and ceramics. They take materials and equipment out to the public running workshops at events, in schools, community centres and other institutions. They also run evening classes from a studio in Kennington.
Working closely with artists and makers, I am struck by how much pleasure they receive from making. I love to hear an artist or craftsman talking about their art or craft. What inspires them, how they create using a certain technique,or just discussing the merits of their favourite material. I love the passion,vitality, joy – even – that creativity gives the maker. It’s infectious. I’ve often thought “I’d like a bit of that” but I’ve never been brave enough to try my hand at anything artistic. (The scathing voice of my art teacher at school still rings in my ears). It’s great that organisations like Arts Express encourage mere mortals like you or I to have a go, and experience the thrill of creative expression. If you have a spare moment this weekend and happen to be in the Dulwich area, do pop in and show your support for Arts Express. You’ll find the exhibition at 20 Ashbourne Grove, London, SE22.
And, if that raises your energy levels then feel free to jump on a bike and visit other Open Studios in the area. You are promised a feast for your senses.