Over 270 artists will be getting involved in what is one of the longest-standing open studios events in the country, dating back to the 1960s. Over the weekends of July 5/6, 12/13, 19/20 and 26/27, artists of all kinds throughout Cambridgeshire will open their doors to members of the public, for free, to share a few of their artistic secrets.
Visitors will have the opportunity to purchase original works of art, and in some cases prints, greetings cards or postcards (though there will be no pressure to buy – browsers are more than welcome!). You’ll also have the unique opportunity to speak with artists about their work, or even see works in progress. Artists taking part include painters, sculptors, jewellers, potters, glassworkers, blacksmiths, photographers, illustrators, textile artists and many more. Among them is Maria Xoubanova, a painter and portraitist from Cambridge. She says: “I’m fascinated by people’s faces and personalities. I try to convey the different psychological states and the outer and inner beauty of my models.” Sasha Garrett, a jewellery maker working in Cambridge to create cute, fun and quirky pieces.
She says: “I took up silver smithing and jewellery making as a hobby when I got fed up with not being able to find the pieces I wanted. It has grown from there starting with friends and family requesting pieces to go with specific outfits for weddings and parties and now I’m turning it into my career. “As a former chemist I find myself drawn to interesting stones – I can get a bit geeky about crystal formations.” Also involved is painter Sarah Carter. As she explains: “The artist’s job is to observe, study and form an understanding of the world; then convey that understanding in an attractive way so as to engage others in similar observation. “I have not yet honed my skills enough to focus my understanding on just one or two subjects as artists often do; so easily am I distracted by the endless wonder and beauty of the world, I get caught up trying to paint it all… What happy distraction!”
Meanwhile Mark Yeates is a mixed media artist, who explains: “My artwork has drawn, painted and printed elements, often combined together using collage techniques. My subjects include portraits, landscapes and pattern and usually explore personal experiences and relationships.”
Photographers may be interested to visit fellow snapper Ian Farrell whose work will be on display at his studio off Cherry Hinton Road. A COS first-timer, he says: “As well as showing a selection of my portraits and fine-art photography there will be a kind of ‘live exhibition’ where visitors can get involved and have their picture taken. Everyone will be photographed in the same way and this will form a body of work that will grow as the Open Studios weekends progress. I hope it’ll be a fascinating way to shoot portraiture!”
COS aims to promote the making of original arts and crafts and to forge a lasting relationship between local people and local makers and artists. Over 400 artists are members of COS, covering the whole county, the Open Studios initiative includes outlying towns and villages as well as the city itself, and offers a unique glimpse into the creative process. Organisers have spoken of wanting to ‘demystify’ the world of art, making it more accessible, and to offer an unusual insight into the fascinating, often unseen world of artists today.
COS is a friendly, welcoming and fun experience: artists only participate if they want to, so the public should always feel very welcome. With all that, it also makes for an unusual, illuminating and entertaining summer’s day out. Participating studios will be open in the main part from 11am-6pm, though visitors should check the website in advance. You might even want to create your own ‘studio tour’ in order to get round all the artists you like the sound of. Free yellow guide books are now being distributed throughout Cambridgeshire, and there will be yellow flags flying from each venue taking part. Often members are exhibiting within range of a good pub lunch or tempting teashop, so why not make a day of it?