This is my first Open Studios as previously I used to work from home. Now my studio is based in ASC Kingston with a community of other artists. It took up quite a lot of time preparing for this, so I have decided to make it the key subject for my blog this month.
The studio complex I am in is not particularly large perhaps compared to other studios so it is noticeable when not everyone participates. One can only encourage other artists to join in, but at the end of the day it’s not compulsory, nor should it be.
Equally in preparation for this, quite a lot of work has to be done from cleaning and sprucing up the corridors to the production of maps explaining how to find ones way around in addition to other marketing material. Our studios are part of a Kingston-wide art initiative called KAOS which plays a key part in marketing the different Open Studios across the borough.
Then there is there is the preparation of my own studio. I wasn’t sure how to approach it. Should I leave it as it and just continue working as per normal? Should I make it look like a gallery space and curate my work? Or should I go ‘salon style’ and display loads of work. It seemed to me that all 3 different approaches were used by the various other artists.
I guess the main question was – what was I hoping to get out of this Open Studio event?
I saw it as an opportunity to let the general public see my work, where it’s made, how it’s made and to discuss my approach and why to those who might be interested. I was keen to carry on working during proceedings but the main problem being is that I have a particularly small studio. There was never going to be a lot of room for people coming to visit, let alone for me to continue making work.
In the end I did curate the work on the wall as in order to give an illusion of space – I had to have it fairly clean-cut looking. I used the corridors to display my larger pieces. I was sometimes able do some work whilst people visited but had to plan it well and keep it small and contained.
We were lucky in that the weather was fine during both Open Studio weekends so plenty of people were out and about visiting the different studios. We had a good throughput of people pretty much the entire time with only a couple of (welcome) lulls around lunchtime.
The most pleasing thing I found was that most people were genuinely interested to hear me talk about my art. I was delighted when people would engage with me and I could discuss the various pieces, the why and how I did what I did. I didn’t really expect that. It was a suburban audience and I wrongly thought that they wouldn’t really be that interested. It was a rewarding experience because of this plus as an added extra bonus I sold a couple of small pieces. I also liked the fact that families visited and often the kids would respond positively to the work. I think this is because they could relate to what I am doing, my subject matter and the tools that I use.
What would I change next time? Not a lot, although I think I might also make some smaller prints and drawings as well which would hopefully provide some more affordable pieces for those who were interested in taking something away. I would also bring in a lot more food. It’s a hungry business and there was just no time to pop out and stock up on supplies!