The annual Open Studio week here in Cornwall is always one of my favourite events. Before we moved here permanently it was something we tried hard to to travel down for. For one week at the beginning of summer a section of Cornwall’s large creative community throw open the doors of their studios to the public. Painters, sculptors, potters, illustrators, glassworkers, printmakers, photographers there is always something for all tastes. It is excellently managed by Creative Skills, the professional development organisation for creative practitioners here in Cornwall.

People often simply stumble upon one of the artists by following the distinctive bright orange circles that point the way to a studio. However if you pick up one of the catalogues freely available at most of the participating studios you can plan entire days out around an area stopping at different studios along the way. This year there is even an App allowing you to view artists by area or discipline and it has maps to guide you there.

Some people find going into a gallery slightly intimidating, there can be a certain hushed atmosphere rather like the posh boutique where the sparse array of clothing is neatly folded on individual shelves and unfolding something to see the size is met by an audible tut from the über cool assistant. However seeing the artists work in the confines of their own studio  brings a much greater accessibility.

The experience works well for both the artist and the public, as the visitor can chat with the artist and come away with a whole story to go with their purchase. The artist in turn gets a much more immediate form of feedback and can see exactly who their customers are. This is useful even if it just serves to thicken their skin to the rather more obtuse comments. It’s amazing how the hushed tones used in the gallery disappear in the studio at the bottom of the garden! I’m sure many abstract artists have heard the obligatory “My five year old paints like that” remark.

Sadly I won’t be participating myself this year as I’m still in the process of building my own studio, but the upside is that for once I will get to see much more of the other artists work and hopefully snap up a piece or two.

Open Studios week runs from the 25th May—2nd June.

More information can be found here: creativeskills.org.uk

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