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Open studio exhibitions - The Open College of the Arts
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Open studio exhibitions

This is the time of year when there are lots of exhibitions of students’ work to see. Schools and colleges have their GCSE and A Level exhibitions while Universities around the country mount their degree and M.A. shows.
Where other student opportunities are concerned, the Royal Academy Summer exhibition heads the list. It is open to amateur and professionals alike and signals the start of the summer season.
In many a town and village across the country artists are also organising Open Studio exhibitions to showcase their work. Whether organised through artist studio complexes or through local borough councils, there is bound to be one near to you. These are the most democratic of events. You don’t have to have a separate studio, a living room will do; there is no selection process and everyone is entitled to participate.
In my area the local council runs the Richmond upon Thames ArtHouse Open Studio over two weekends in the summer, where about 500 artists exhibit a diverse range of artwork including painting and photography; stained glass and woodwork; sculpture and ceramics; to jewellery, bag design, furniture and 3D design.
There is a basic fee to cover advertising, administration, and the online and printed brochures. Local area maps pinpoint each venue so that enthusiastic art lovers can work out an artists’ trail. Individual artists can also produce personalised invitation cards, press releases and engage in their own promotion.

However before all this happens the hard work of producing the art has to be done. Then there are the decisions about framing, what prices to charge and how to hang the pictures to their best advantage. Prints can be made and mounted, homemade or printed Artist’s greeting cards can promote your work to visitors and their friends.
The studio environment has to be made suitable for visitors and Health and Safety issue have also to be considered.
Presenting your work to an unsuspecting public is an interesting challenge. You find that strangers arrive at your door and the responsibility of explaining your work effectively to them is all part of the process. An enthusiastic approach pays dividends and in effect the artist is learning on the job through the triple tasks of making, promoting and selling their work.
This can be very useful for a student engaged on an OCA visual art degree course. You will meet like-minded people and it is all part of the learning process. As a first step in revealing your work to the public you will find that the most useful way is through the Open Studios network.
OCA students will be made especially welcome at Jim’s Richmond ArtHouse Open House studio at 10 Charlotte Square, Richmond, Surrey TW10 6JE on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 July 11am to 6pm, where he will be showing his recent paintings and prints.

Posted by author: James Cowan

2 thoughts on “Open studio exhibitions

  • Not always true on the ‘no selection process’ for open studios. North Yorkshire Open Studios is selected (but has a newcomers category), so it may depend on your area.
    Having just done this event myself, I can agree that it is a great way to showcase your work and get feedback on your direction. Still not got the house back into shape and it was 3 weeks ago now!

  • The amount of work involved can be daunting but once done, its worth the effort and on the positive side you get to hang a whole new set of paintings.

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