Making an exhibition of myself with Warwickshire Open Studios
For me and many other designer makers spring is a busy time of the year. The craft fairs and exhibitions we’ve signed up for during the long, dark nights of January suddenly loom large and mild panic sets in as realisation dawns it may be a good idea to have something to sell. One of my biggest selling events of the year is Warwickshire Open Studios.
The first Warwickshire Open Studios was held in 2002 and started as a biennial event; becoming an annual exhibition a few years later. This year over 250 artists and designer makers will be exhibiting their work in 128 different venues and Warwickshire Open Studios has become one of the largest exhibitions of original art and crafts in the country. It is an amazing organisation funded by the exhibitors and run by a dedicated team of volunteers, who are also artists themselves. Quite frankly, I don’t know where they find the time to build and maintain an informative website (www.warwickshireopenstudios.org), produce a brilliant catalogue and publicity material, whilst still producing their own work.
My own preparations for Warwickshire Open Studios start in early February. I’ll assess what stock I have and what I’ll need to make. I tend to make my pieces to order, so it’s important I have enough pieces to show, to make it worthwhile the effort my visitors will make to come and see my work.
After I’ve decided what I need to make I then draw up a timetable of when I will make the pieces and when I will fire them. This is really important as one bowl can tie up my kiln for 3 days and it’s important I make the best use of the space I have. I learnt last year I can’t make too many owls and this year it looks like that principle can also be applied to the (garden stake) birds I’ve recently started to sell. My timetable is usually turned upside down by commissions and orders coming in from my Etsy shop (https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Cornerways), but somehow I always manage to be ready on time. I’m not the tidiest of workers and by far the hardest part of my preparations is making sure my studio is fit for visitors!
The weeks leading up to the start of Open Studios are filled with delivering catalogues and leaflets to local shops and businesses, to make sure as many people as possible are aware of what’s happening. Most areas of the county will produce a leaflet giving details of all the artists and designer makers exhibiting in that area – the art trails are always popular and make a great day out.
Even though I am always thrilled someone likes my work enough to buy it, I am equally as happy to welcome visitors who are just interested to see what I do and chat. It’s always lovely to meet so many different people all interested in art and crafts. I think most exhibitors feel the same way, so even if you have no intention of buying there’s no reason why you should miss out on this wonderful celebration of talent within Warwickshire. Grab yourself a catalogue, plan your route and pop in for a chat – the kettle’s always on!
Warwickshire Open Studios Saturday 18th June – Sunday 3rd July.
I’ll be opening my studio from Saturday 25th June – Sunday 3rd July (closed Monday 27th June).