Artists prep their palettes for this year's Swindon Open Studios

By Claire Dukes - 19 September 2018

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In a bid to recognise the variety of working artists in Swindon, Swindon Open Studios is an annual event where artists open their studios for the public to visit.

Taking place on the last two weekends of this month (22, 23, 29 and 30 September), the community-led event aims to engage people with the process of making various mediums of art work. Now in its twelfth year, this month sees a brand-new committee as well as a drive to bring in some of the younger artists working in Swindon.

This year participating artists and studios include Ken White, David Bent, Darkroom Espresso, Carolyn Day, Chris Waddell, Julie Gough, James Osborn, Mary Parson, Artsite, Mia Willis and many more.

Committee member, and artist, Carolyn Day said: "We want people to visit the studios and see the process, because this isn’t an exhibition – it’s about seeing people’s studios and actually seeing where the magic happens and seeing where the art work is produced.

"We’re going to see what happens with all these new fresh people coming in, with more contemporary ideas. We’re hoping that our followers that have been loyal to us over many years will visit some of the newer generations’ work as well.

"We’re hoping our audience go visit our artists and really appreciate their talent, because they are all so talented."

This year the event is being sponsored by various local businesses and organisations, including the charity Swindon and District Samaritans which are a group of volunteers who provide support for people in need which can often be related to mental health issues.

Carolyn added: "I think the link with Samaritans is relevant because people are saying that studies are showing that children and adults aren’t being taught art in schools anymore, so that creative side of people, and the learning aspects, have been taken away – there are more mental health issues now as a result of that.

"It’s apt we have the Samaritans on our side because art can be a form of therapy, even if you’re high up in the medic profession a creative background in the arts is always preferred."

Despite a new committee, and a younger demographic of artists, Swindon Open Studios are still looking ahead in hopes the yearly event will branch out further.

Committee member, photographer and graphic designer, Chris Waddell said: “I’ve completely rebranded Swindon Open Studios this year, and we're noticing more interest from younger generations this year.

“We’ve brought the demographic down, which is good because unless we get some new artists coming through it’s just going to fade away. We’ve brought the average age of the committee down, and we’ve brought the average age of the artists down. We’re in a good place for building this.

"But you’ll be amazed how many people don’t know this is in Swindon - even though it’s been going for 12 years, I still think we’ve got a lot of work to do."

Also present at the Swindon Open Studios launch was the Mayor of Swindon, Junab Ali. He said: “Having events like this showcases what a great pool of talent we have in Swindon, because I think Swindon lets itself down, doesn’t promote itself enough, and doesn’t celebrate enough the huge amount of artists we have in Swindon – so these kind of events opens that up to the normal public and to other people in Swindon, or from outside, to say ‘hey look, come to Swindon and celebrate these wonderful wonderful artists.

"Swindon has one of the biggest collections of art in the country, but we just haven’t got the perfect place for it yet. Hopefully in the next year or two we will get a perfect place to display that, and that will create a buzz in our town and bring people all over the country to Swindon.

"Swindon’s got so much talent to give – all the people in Swindon need to come together to appreciate that. I don’t think we appreciate what we have on our doorstep enough. 

"Since I’ve become the Mayor, my eyes have opened up so much. I’ve lived here for nearly 40 years, and I didn’t know we had so much talent in Swindon. I couldn’t be a bigger supporter of this – I am going to be shouting about Swindon and going to promote Swindon for everything it has. It’s not just art work – we’ve got musicians, we’ve got history, and we’ve got culture.”

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