The wandering returns… Wandsworth Artists’ Open House is back – brighter and even more beautiful!
Lynn Selwyn-Reeves from Sprout Arts reflects on the return of Wandsworth Artists’ Open House in the wake of 2023’s opening weekend.
The last much-loved annual Wandsworth Artists’ Open House event took place in October 2019, before the pandemic. Based on the feedback from artists and visitors alike from just the first weekend, its return has been welcomed with open arms!
For the first of our two-weekend event, the sun shone beautifully, making it the perfect weather for the thousands of visitors ready to walk the Wandsworth art trails to meet the artists, designers and makers waiting to open their doors to welcome them. Venues across the borough are adorned with brightly coloured bunting and balloons – pink, purple and blue echoing our freshly branded colourful art trail leaflets and website.
When Wandsworth Council proposed the idea of Artists’ Open House returning as an artist-led independent initiative earlier this year, a ripple of excitement spread amongst South West London artist groups, many of whom had taken part in the past and loved the experience so knew how good it would be.
Fast forward to earlier this summer and it was ‘make or break’ time; the decision was made to bring Artists’ Open House back to Wandsworth! With support from the Arts and Culture Service and Council backing, a small steering group formed, determined to make this a success. No mean feat with less than 3 months to go, but the creative energy and enthusiasm spread and expressions of interest flowed in from artists wanting to come together and take part, all adding to the buzz and excitement of welcoming back the event.
This year, with more than 100 artists taking part in over 50 venues, some showing in individual locations and others as groups in studios or larger venues, Wandsworth Artists’ Open House is divided into 3 art trail maps – Southfields (purple), Putney (blue) and Battersea, Wandsworth, Tooting and Furzedown (pink) making it easy for visitors to create their own routes across the 4 days according to their art preferences.
Felix Mendelssohn wrote “The essence of beauty is unity in variety”, and we hope this reflects the visitors’ experience of Wandsworth Artists’ Open House this year.
The range of work and styles is huge. Artists of all ages, working in all artforms, mediums and disciplines, classically trained or self-taught, established and emerging artists; we welcomed all artists and creators to join our event.
Some work from super-slick and spacious studios whilst others work from smaller rooms in homes, but it matters not! Artists invite visitors to visit them wherever they feel most comfortable and that’s the beauty of our Open House event. The creativity is within rather than where we work from, with no-one artist better than the next, it’s all individual taste.
When you visit an open house or studio you have the opportunity to chat to the artist, to ask about their work and take in the detail and the process; it’s a much more personal experience than viewing an exhibition without the artists present and that’s what makes this event special.
Visitors love looking through the trail leaflets and scrolling our website to create their own trails then going from venue to venue seeing different artforms and especially appreciate knowing they are supporting local artists by buying directly from them. That personal contact really makes a difference and whilst the sales are important, the positive comments and feedback from visitors is especially valuable to artists.
A snapshot of some of our open house venues last weekend…
Artists are frequently asked for recommendations for who to visit next so the camaraderie and support amongst the artists is great with the event creating opportunities for artists to network, discuss shared creative interests and make new partnerships and friendships. When artists genuinely want the best for each other and for everyone to enjoy the experience, it makes for the best and most authentic event for everyone.
Ahead of the second weekend, we asked some of our artists to say a few words about their experiences so far.
Slavica Struthers-Kennedy, jewellery designer and maker on the Southfields trail. Having been opening her home studio for more than a decade, Slavica explains why this event is so special.
“I love people and enjoy showing my creations. The biggest compliment I can have, is to see my visitors wear my jewellery which they have previously bought from me”
Amanda Blunden, who works from her beautiful garden studio in Tooting said:
“It’s been a very rewarding experience overall. I’ve loved my conversations with all the lovely visitors. It’s been a steady flow of local people, friends and new connections have been made. It’s reinforced my faith that art appreciation is alive and well!”
Sprout Arts, Furzedown:
“It’s great to be able to join in with this borough wide event again. Our group artist members’ show offers those artists who may not have enough work or a venue suitable to invite visitors to, the opportunity to be involved and we love welcoming new visitors and artists to our community art gallery”.
If you’ve followed our art trails, we hope you’ve enjoyed the experience and there is of course still one more weekend to run, so do give them a go!