It’s the Chichester Open Studios Art Trail, but there’s an important and thriving Regis section to the proceedings.
The Regis trail – alongside the City, Downs, Harbour and Peninsula trails – will be a key element as 160 artists open their doors to exhibit a wide range of work across 127 different venues.
Among the Regis contingent are Heather Stevens (art smith), Pim Gleadle (semi-precious jeweller). Jo Strain (mixed media jeweller) and Vidya Thirunarayan (functional ceramics and sculpture) who will be showing their works at venues 124 and 125.
Pim said: “Visitors come from far and wide to see us. They really value the opportunity to meet us in our workshops and chat informally. They look forward to the trail each year and get enormous joy from each visit.”
Heather agreed: “Artists are passionate about what they do, why they do it, what inspires them and visitors find that infectious.”
Vidya is also relishing the prospect: “People love to understand your original idea, your process and the journey your piece of work has been through. When they buy something from you, it is more than the final product. The art work is imbued with the story of how it was created and the creative energy that went into it.”
For Jo, it’s about the difference between a trail and the more formal world of galleries: “Many visitors have commented that they find art galleries intimidating whereas they find artists’ studios relaxed, creative places where they are often encouraged to not only look at but to touch and pick up work. Your senses are engaged whether it’s the smell of wood or oil paint, the sound of a hammer on metal or a jeweller’s saw, the rhythm of the sewing machine or potter’s wheel or a visual feast of colour.”
There is a great richness to it all, as Heather says: “You would be hard pushed to see such a variety of art forms in such a small area: my metal sculptures, Jo’s mixed media jewellery, Vidya’s functional ceramics and sculpture, Pim’s gemstone and silver jewellery, Mick Meech’s fantasy ceramic sculptures, Ann Smith’s textiles and paintings, Gill Hunter’s animal sculptures, Jonathan Waights’ object d’art pots, vases and hand painted tiles...”
Part of the fun is that visitors often really want to participate, as Vidya says: “Many visitors ask if they can have a go and come back for a half-day workshop to make a pot and decorate a tile.
“Very quickly they lose themselves in complete concentration.”
Heather added: “Another great thing is discussing ideas for that perfect gift or spot at home. Whether it’s a variation, different size, colour or form or something completely novel, working with someone to develop their ideas and create something that’s right for them is fascinating.”
As Pim points out, it is also about developing the artistic community: “There’s the fact that artists mostly work alone. The trail is a great opportunity to learn more about other artists in your area. Jo and I got to know each other when she visited me on the trail and discovered we live almost opposite one another.”
Heather agreed: “Seeing other artists work often triggers new ideas for my own creations. This year I’ve developed a new style of flower-inspired garden sculpture based on copper and buttons.”
The Chichester Open Studios Art Trail 2019 runs during the first two weekends in May (Saturday, Sunday, Monday, May 4, 5, 6; Saturday, Sunday, May 11, 12, 10.30am -5.30pm).
Other Regis trail artists include Collette Batho, Venue 106; Bespoke jewellery in silver and gold frequently set with semi-precious stones.
Rachel Baylis, Venue 109: Large acrylic and oil paintings, some abstract and some figurative.
Tom Boulton, Venue 111: Large letterpress prints amd plenty of stationery items – also lots of vintage machinery to look at.
Karen Boxall, Venue 119: Illustrated stained glass, lino prints, etchings and scraperboard inspired by nature.
Donna Chapman, Venue 114: Various paintings in acrylic, charcoal and pastel.
Jeanette Clarke, Venue 116: Line and wash, watercolour and mixed media paintings inspired by the landscape and vernacular buildings of West Sussex.
Su Cloud, Venue 105: Inspired by nature, small and large unique sculptural ceramics for home and garden. Demonstrations of hand building and details of courses available.
Sue England, Venue 101: Oil and mixed media paintings, drawings and prints.
Laura Fletcher, Venue 104: Small – medium oil and acrylic paintings; still life, landscape and figurative.