After the Open Studios – what I learned – and DIY galleries.

This weekend was the East Street Arts Open Studios event I’ve previously posted about. I took part on Saturday, and enjoyed having visitors come to my house, where I have my studio. It was thrilling to fill my house with my own work, and have people come to talk to me about it. It was also a very useful exercise, which I hadn’t realised it would be.

I learned a lot from having the Open Studio event.

Firstly, as I had never had an open studio before I was relying heavily on advice from East Street Arts. Luckily they have a really helpful toolkit for artists, suggestion ideas on how/what to display your wok in your studio, and what visitors might be interested in seeing.

Although I have had lots of experience exhibiting my work in galleries, bars, and in one case, someone else’s house- I wasn’t sure about how to do it in my own home/studio.

Kat and Charleyne checking out the Spice Girls on the stairs.
Kat and Charleyne
checking out the Spice Girls on the stairs.

I decided that I didn’t want to (and probably couldn’t) make my house feel like a gallery space. I thought that it would be good to show that you can live with art in a modestly sized house, and that it can coexist with your books and ornaments and stuff. You don’t need a massive penthouse apartment to start an art collection!

My friends and fellow artists Angela Diplock and Amy L Roberts aka Blank Borders kindly came to help with the open day, (thanks guys!) as I was wary of being alone at home and inviting strangers round. It turned out that I needn’t have worried, as everyone who came was lovely and friendly. We had cake and wine and a jolly old chat about art with everyone who came.

Angela Diplock's photo of Helen and Amy
Angela Diplock’s photo of Helen and Amy pratting about

What was unexpected, but a useful aspect of taking part in the event, was the process of getting all my recent work together and reviewing what I have been doing in the last 12-18 months. This meant picking out my best pieces, or work most representative of what I am exploring. As I was preparing for visitors’ questions, I made an Information Sheet about what I’d been doing, and what I will be doing next, and this was a good exercise.

Having an exhibition at home was strangely different from having an exhibition in a public place. Because I had the flexibility to show anything I wanted, and I could choose from everything I had available, it was more difficult to decide what to show. (My “public-place” shows usually have a theme and I usually show my most recent body of work.)

Something else that occurred to me during the open studios process, was how I would like to do more exhibitions in people’s houses. Getting a place to show your work can be a lengthy and frustrating task, and I remembered attending a talk by Laurence Lane of the International 3 a few years ago. He said that his group began by taking turns showing in each others’ houses once a month, while they were trying to get their own artist-run space together. At the time I had thought “what a brilliant idea, I want to do that!” and then promptly filed that thought away somewhere.

Amy L Roberts's photo of Helen and Angela. We have GOOD POSES.
Amy L Roberts’s photo of Helen and Angela. We have GOOD POSES.

So, right now I have 3 shows I’m preparing for, but I’m wondering if this house-gallery thing is something I might pursue in 2016. I have artist friends, and we have houses! Let’s do it ourselves!

Thank you everyone who came and visited on Saturday, your support is valuable to me, and its great to get some feedback on what I’m doing!


One Comment Add yours

  1. Hi Helen, really sorry I couldn’t make it this time. It looked like great fun. I’m glad you enjoyed it and it’s given you more ideas to work from. Good luck and see you soon, Barbara xx

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