ORGANISERS of Art in the Park were reflecting this week on another successful event – and looking ahead to something more spectacular for the tenth anniversary.
Just over 10,000 people visited the Botanical Gardens over the weekend to see the work of 300 amateur and professional artists, sculptors, photographers and craftspeople.
Crowds picked up along with the weather and the event ended in sunshine.
“We are slightly down on last year’s visitors but it was still a very good turnout,” said the council’s event organiser, Howard Simpson.
Although the economic climate may also have been reflected in the attendance – adults paid £6 for admission – and marginally lower purchases from the professional artists, it was a record year for sales in the open art market, which offers a canvas for local amateurs.
Howard said: “While the professional artists do Sheffield proud – the quality of their work is second to none – the open art market is a platform for amateurs and the quality of their work is incredible. It makes you proud of the creative people we have got in the city.
“There were artists who were exhibiting for the first time and they sold out. They will have gone away excited and thought ‘I am going to paint more’, They were a fantastic element of the event.”
Art director Sharon Gill said it was a “fantastic weekend. The weather made it considering the summer we have had.
“Some people grumble about the ticket price but is cheaper than a cinema ticket and you can stay all day.
“The event is gaining in reputation. We are getting new people submitting work. The whole event is curated and the quality of the work has to be there. That’s why visitors keep coming back.”
The Portraits of Distinction contest was based on images of Sheffield Olympic diver Monique Gladding. She picked the winner – Andrew Warren, a semi-professional local artist.
One of the most talked-about works was in the bear pit. The Great Omi is the life-sized sculpture of Britain’s first tattooed man by Sheffield artist Anthony Bennett and had never been displayed in the city. At the Friday night preview, the life-like figure was candle-lit.
“Some were terrified by it and others were amazed,” said Howard. “The overnight security staff were scared to go into the bear pit!”
Thoughts are turning to next year. Howard said: “We are really keen to get sponsorship to make the tenth anniversary a spectacular event.
“We need to get our thinking caps on and, with the help of local businesses, I think we can make it very special.”
Reaching the anniversary will be “quite an achievement”, said Sharon. “It needs marking. I don’t know what we are going to do yet – something a bit different.”