Chance for the solitary artist to share their creative world with public
Su Carroll looks at Devon Open Studios which begins today and involves artists across the county.
Being an artist can often be a solitary existence. But the creative folk of Devon have come up with a great way to combat that and to introduce their work to a wider audience.
Every September, for the past seven years, they have opened up their studios for two weeks to the public to share their creativity, whether it's painting, printmaking, ceramics, textiles, sculpture, jewellery or photography.
This year's Devon Open Studios, which begins today, has more than 200 artists taking part.
The event is a unique chance for the public to venture out on self-guided art tours using the colour-coded area maps in the brochure or just by spontaneously following the yellow arrows dotted about the country-side.
Whether you see dozens of artists or just visit a couple of studios, the event provides a rare and exciting opportunity to interact with artists in their own individual creative spaces and buy art directly from them.
This year the exhibitors include nationally and internationally renowned artists and artisans in addition to many exciting newcomers in an intriguing range of venues full of unexpected treasures.
Last year more than 20,000 visited artists. The event was a tremendous success with total sales and commissions reaching over £220,000 – a 14% increase compared to 2011.
For the third year, the Devon Artist Network has awarded bursaries to emerging artists, to nurture and encourage them. This year they are: Wanda Garner, a printmaker from Crediton, who is returning to her own work after 36 years as a teacher, working mostly with deaf children and adults. Suzy Waldron, who grew up in Torquay and graduated from Falmouth. She works in mixed media and her art can be seen at The Ariel Centre, Totnes. Jane Hodgson of Bovey Tracey is primarily an expressionistic landscape painter and Ama Menec is a sculptor based in Totnes.
The final recipient, Naomi Hart, has created an astonishing and epic piece of work. For All About Migration, Naomi sent out 10,000 hand-cut postcards in the shape of Brent Geese to all corners of the world and is constructing a "flying" installation of them as they wing their way back to her from the furthest reaches of the earth, including the Arctic, the Antarctic, Eastern China and Western Canada.
The cards are works of art in their own right – many carry beautiful original paintings or drawings, some have poems, many hold touching moments of the person's life that they have chosen to share with Naomi and the world.
There are also cards from internationally acclaimed environmentalist Mark Carwardine, world-famous author Amy Tan, who wrote The Joy Luck Club, as well as Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud and Exeter Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines. The installation in Hope Hall, Heavitree, Exeter, will be open to the public from next Saturday.
Some artists open their studios alone for the September event, but a group of creative people in South Devon have grouped together.
The Manaton Makers will be showing at their gallery at Ullacombe Farm in Bovey Tracey with invited artist friends also taking part.
Exhibitors include basketmaker Jan Baker, who uses willow she grows in her garden for her creations, weaver Sareela Salter, ceramicist Rachel May, jewellery makers Cat Frampton and Janet Downes, woodturner John Rockey, painter Vicki Dawson and printmaker Andy Moreton.
There are plenty more artists to discover online and in the printed guides, where you'll find details of Honiton artist June Harvey, who works in pastel capturing scenery, interiors and still life, Newton Abbot artist Sarah Bell, who is well known for her colourful, lively, animal watercolours inspired by her life at the Sampsons Farm Hotel and restaurant, and two artists who can be found at Ebdon Farm, Sidbury. It's here that Liz Vonberg makes detailed paintings on silk inspired by the marine and botanic that become pictures, scarves and wallhangings, and fellow exhibitor Sue Kerwood creates handmade baskets in beautiful willow.
More information about Devon Open Studios, which is sponsored by Helpful Holidays, can be found on at devonartistnetwork.co.uk. A free guide to the event is available from tourist information centres, libraries, hotels and galleries for the event which starts today and ends on September 22.