Provided it’s large enough, I’ve been known to lose all track of time in an art gallery, and miss the last train home! But a gallery is one thing, this is another. July is Marlborough Open Studios month, the name of which in itself is quite misleading.
Although transport will help, a train to London is not needed, this is bang on your doorstep. The Open Studio concept transforms our beautiful landscape of the North Wessex Chalk Downs, which you know is breath-taking enough, into one massive interactive art exhibit, and something, well, quite unique.
Beyond Marlborough, engulfing Calne to Hungerford, Wroughton to Chirton, a staggering forty-three of our finest artists open their studios and let you visit, to view their work in their own surroundings. You can meet them, perhaps their pets too, but I wouldn’t advise going through their pants draw like it was some tacky reality TV cooking show.
This is as far from a gallery as you can get and still remain in the world of art, but this is not a festival where you’ll be crammed into a tiny space with a million sweating, novelty back-pack-wearing young sybarites clutching bottles of water, all trying to dribble clichés over one painting. No, no, no; circulate at your own pace, use the website to check which studios are open, and visit at your leisure. There is no charge, just drop in when the studios are open; hence the name Open Studio, see?!
I guess you assess how formal you need to be by the greeting of each individual artist, but generally I’d imagine they’d be pleased to meet you. Artists, writers and creative people in general work in relatively solitude, twist their arm they might even put the kettle on; I might have to test this myself and get back to you on that!
So yes, Open Studios – July weekends: 7th-8th, 14th-15th, 21th-22th, 28th-29th. Check out the website here for browsing exhibiting artist as there’s too many to list here! The ones caught my eye are; beachcombing Kareen Jackson from Baydon, who transforms beach junk into unique hand-crafted driftwood boats, cottages and animals; so cute!
Also, Mary Wilkinson in Minal, for her Turneresque local landscapes, Hungerford’s Jane Corbett’s other-worldly glass sculptures, stunning Devizes photographer Steven Davis, in Chirton Diana Neale’s dreamy mixtures of photographs and watercolours, or Jenny Pape’s beautiful oil landscapes, Sally Osborne’s crazy fish glazes in All Cannings, and there’s so many more, just browse the website to see!
Artists I’m well aware of but up for popping in to see too, are Bryony Cox, last year’s Bursary Award winner, who exhibits her paintings of vast skies over the Wiltshire landscape, Upstairs at Jacks in Devizes, and Anne Swan in Rowde who, with just colour pencils makes botanical studies you’d think you could reach in to the picture and take a bite out of!
What a refreshing alternative to galleries, which you could take a whole month to peruse, at your own leisure, and not worry about missing the last train!