Participating in an Open Studios event can be a bit nerve-wracking. You clean all the paint-covered coffee cups, sweep up bits of paper stuck in the floor boards and generally make the place presentable without sanitising it too much. Then you think about what you’d like to tell people about your work and hope you don’t talk too much (or too little).
When the first visitors arrive, a little thrill runs through the building. You stand up a little straighter and make sure your paintings aren’t crooked on the walls. And then you’re off, greeting and chatting with people you have never met or people who have come to see you again or friends who have come to support you. Sometimes it’s a long one-to-one chat or a gathering of people who enter as strangers to each other and leave as acquaintances. There is a rhythm to the flow of visitors but each interaction is unpredictable – and that is its loveliness.
One of the things I noticed this weekend was people’s deep need for creativity and for inspiration, the wish to connect with others who feel that same need and to fulfil their curiosity about what artists do. There were recent graduates starting on their new paths, people who make time for creative work in a busy non-art career and groups of like-minded people meeting up to visit the studios together.
I had rich conversations with visitors from many walks of life. I learned new things, was given excellent recommendations for films, artists, places in Yorkshire and was privileged to share my artwork and books. I left the building last night with a warm, fuzzy feeling and a great deal of inspiration to get back to work.