Objects granted new lease of life

The Campaign for Objects in Purgatory, Sheffield Institute of Arts Gallery, Sheffield Hallam University'Handmade brooches which will be given away free to everyone who participates in the project
The Campaign for Objects in Purgatory, Sheffield Institute of Arts Gallery, Sheffield Hallam University'Handmade brooches which will be given away free to everyone who participates in the project

IT’S that time again. The annual Artists Open Studios event is taking place across South Yorkshire over the next two weekends.

This year’s open event features 107 artists in the Sheffield area making, demonstrating and exhibiting their work in a variety of studios and non-traditional arts venues and showing the public what they do and how they do it and talking about why they do it.

Art lovers can walk into working studios with no prior appointment across the two weekends and find themselves welcomed by a range of artists of different art genres working in many different styles and media.

This year, Open Up have awarded 10 bursaries to selected artists, partly funded by the Unite union, a local philanthropist and a former culture minister (who both prefer to remain anonymous).

“These are artists who are other young or who have lost their job and we have waived the normal registration of £95 to enable them to participate,” explained project manager Maxwell Singh.

He said that after 12 years Open Up Sheffield now enjoyed an international reputation for excellence and quality but they were keen to ensure that it continued to develop. There were exciting plans fto tie in with next year’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the London 2012 Olympics.

As well as the painters, sculptors, ceramacists and furniture-makers, there will be more unusual practices such as award-winning tattoo artist Fiona Long or iPad artist Jane Horton.

City centre venues include Sheffield Cathedral, where paintings, ceramics and felt hats will be on display plus an appearance next weekend by nationally-known interactive media artist Shanaz Gulzar who will be presenting a re-make of her acclaimed installation piece Face2Face, and the Quaker Meeting House where nine artists will present paintings, photography, textiles and installations.

As for true urban art, go no further than the shop window on Pinstone Street and a display of spray-can art from Casper Carr and Leigh Stanford-Redhead.

Others are exhibiting individually in their own studios. “A cluttered cave dedicated to the worship of art in all forms, traditional, modern and contemporary,” is how Sam Dexter describes her stuio at Clarence Works, near Kelham Island.

“I came to art late in life when I started a part-time textile course. I’d always done a bit of cross-stiching and crafting and I wanted to do something to relieve the tedium of work. I was encouraged by my tutor to go on to do an HND in Fine Art, what’s now called a Foundation course.”

This broadened her interests after being introduced to other art forms including painting, photography and book art but health problems and other issues threatened to hold her back until she found a place at Clarence Works.

She continues to practise textile art but also does mixed media painting, especially oils and goache. “I also fell in love with print-making and after picking up a press on eBay for a song I now have really got into that. Printmaking is when I am at my happiest because I know something will come out of it even if it isn’t what I expected.

“The art studio has been my salvation,” she says. “It has given me somewhere to go every day to get my confidence back and feel good about myself. Art has given me a pass back into health. I am starting a degree course in September and then after that I might start offering art therapy because I think it is so important.”

Gorima Basu is another artist whose personal circumstances have informed her work. Over the past year the death of her father was followed by the arrival of her first child, a baby boy born three months ago.

“Death and birth happened almost simultaneously in my life,” she says. “Amidst this ebb and flow of life, I vigorously created paintings and perhaps even better than ever before. Pathos in some cases instils creativity.”

At her home at Chapeltown the artist will be exhibiting paintings of places in her native India on travels in the company of her late father.

Open Up runs this Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday and the following Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm, althoughthe opening hours of individual artists may vary.