OVER the next two weekends in Sheffield visitors can watch artists at work, engage in conversation, see working spaces and studios, arrange commissions and tuition or even purchase a work of art. It’s the annual open studios event in which more than 150 artists in the city and its environs are opening their doors to the public.
Entry is free to all the participating venues although there may be a small charge for some workshop activities or taster sessions.
“Open Up Sheffield is firmly in the diary of art lovers from Sheffield, South Yorkshire and beyond. We are delighted that this year an unprecedented number of artists are taking part, which should attract more visitors than ever before,” says Brian Holland, Chair of Open Up Sheffield.
Geographically, artists are spread from as far afield as Kexborough near Barnsley down to Coal Aston and Clowne, and from Bamford across to Rotherham with plenty in between. “What’s local to some may be a long way for others but, wherever you live, we think it’s worth the effort to go that little bit further, whether on foot, by bus or by car.” says Brian. “Many visitors make a day of it with family and friends, and with five dates to choose from – this Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday and then May 12-13 – there’s a chance to go in all directions.”
Among the featured artists for 2012 Open Up Sheffield are Joe Dixon, a final year student at Freeman College, working mainly in felting and silversmithing, and Sabine Little, a glass artist and previous winner of the Craft and Design Selected Awards (Silver), who is based in Bolsterstone, near Stocksbridge.
A regular city centre venue is the Quaker Meeting House on St James Street which will once again be open on all five days showing work by Sue Bateman, Gill Buttery, Deborah Theasby, Panni Pokyokeloh, Caroline Coates, Sally Ashe, Shirley Cameron, Marion Haywood and Jacqueline James.
Laura Kerr, Chris Prust, Margaret Lawson and Faith Rodger will also be displaying their artwork, tapestries and pottery and there will be workshops on calligraphy, sketching and weaving in previous years together with a plant sale run by Jill Whitfield. Refreshments including home-made cakes and pastries will be on sale.
Manor Oaks Studios will be participating in Open Up this Saturday and the following Saturday and Sunday, diplaying furniture by Finbarr Lucas, jewellery by Annette Petch and ceramics by Susan Disley, Anne Laycock, Joel Neild and Miles Gavin.
This weekend Sarah Villeneau and Penny Withers will be running the first firing of the new smokeless kiln at Manor Oaks Cottages, completing the work from the recent kiln-building and pottery workshop, and then will be back on site on May 12.
Yorkshire Artspace will be opening up their Persistence Works and Porter Brook Studios on May 12-13.
Two artists from Porter Brook, Paul Dearden and Trevor Pollard, are putting on an exhibition at the Workstation timed to coincide with Open Up. Both were art students in the early Seventies and found themselves with adjoining studios in 2012. the decision to hold a joint exhigition was born out of the realisation that they had both embarked on a series of paintings – although very different in terms of inspiration and execution – that would complement each other in an exhibition setting.
Rotherham-born Dearden’s colourful paintings on paper or canvas are often inspired by places while Pollard too is inspired by worldwide travel which he also documents in film and photography, most recently coral reef conservation in Madagascar and the Jali Kora tradition in Senegal.
Previously Gorima Basu has welcomed visitors to her home but the arrival of a baby boy has made it more practical this year to display her work at an outside venue, the Lion Works at Kelham Island.
The show includes paintings from a recent trip to Goa in her homeland of India. She combined a relaxing holiday with painting the famous golden beaches and a herbal spice plantation.
“Fort Aguada is an old Portuguese fort, converted into a five- star hotel by the Taj group. Although it was an expensive stay, it is an immaculate locale both for artists and nature lovers, as it is on top of a cliff, overlooking the vast and majestic Arabian Sea,” she reports.
The artist is used to being observed while doing on-the-spot paintings but this time it had an unexpected consequence. Some of the administrative staff from the hotel saw her, checked out her website and decided to commission ten paintings from her, which meant delaying her return to Sheffield while she completed them at her family home in Kolkata. “This single incident proves how one can advertise oneself as an artist not only on the internet, brochure, leaflet or newspaper but even when you don’t realise you are doing it,” she says.
Also exhibiting at the Kelham Island Arts Co-op Lion Works are sculptor John Clifford, printmaker James Green, abstract painter and printmaker Catherine Higham, woodturner Bryan Munsey and textile artist Giedre Sadauskaite.
Open Up Sheffield is a not-for-profit organisation run by a steering group of 13 volunteers. It does not currently receive any grant funding and is self-financed through advertising and registration fees. Open Up 2012 takes place on Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, plus Saturday and Sunday May 12-13, 11am-5pm.
Further information about all participating artists, including details of their individual opening times and directions to their studios, can be found on www.openupsheffield.co.uk
Brochures containing a map pinpointing all the venues are available to collect from many public outlets, including libraries, the Millennium Galleries, the Showroom cinema and Workstation.
“The brochure is more than just a guide to event”, says Catherine Brown, Vice Chair.
“Visitors can use it to navigate their way through the two open weekends, but can also keep it as a catalogue of local artists, referring to it throughout the year to make contacts, place commissions, and read about the variety of art we have right on our doorstep.”