Suffolk Open Studios returns again in June for its 9th successful year in its current format, with a record number of participants. Every weekend, artists across the county will be opening their studios to the public to give visitors a unique opportunity to see their work, watch them create it and to discuss their practice.
Starting on Saturday 6th, this year’s programme runs over the four weekends of June. All studios are open 11am-5pm and entry is free. Numbers this year are up again significantly up on 2019 with nearly 140 artists and galleries taking part, marking a new high point for the programme.
Visitors can see work ranging from the strictly traditional to the highly abstract, and covering every aspect of the visual arts – including painting, pottery, ceramics, glassware, print-making, screenprinting, woodturning, sculpture and more.
Cally James, Suffolk Open Studios Chairperson, commented: “It’s wonderful to see record numbers of members enrolling this year – some old faces returning again from previous years, many joining for the first time. It’s testimony to the programme’s popularity that so many artists want to take part.”
She continued: “The great thing about Suffolk Open Studios is that it gives the public a unique opportunity to meet the artists in person. How often do you go to a gallery, see something you love and think “I wish I could ask them how they went about creating that – what was in their mind”? With Suffolk Open Studios, you can!”
As in previous years, the 2020 programme launches with the Annual Showcase Exhibition on Wednesday 27 May at the Apex Gallery in Bury St Edmunds. This year, the event will be opened by renowned artist and portrait painter, and long established Suffolk resident, Benjamin Sullivan RP NEAC, winner of the 2017 BP Portrait Award. Among his other achievements, many people will recognise Benjamin’s work from his 2018 portrait of The Queen.
Benjamin commented: “I’m delighted to be invited to open this year’s exhibition. Suffolk is famous for its artistic talent, both past and present, and it’s a pleasure to be involved in a project which seeks to bring so much of that talent into the public eye and give it the recognition it deserves.”
Visitors can download a copy of the 2020 Directory from the Suffolk Open Studios website at www.suffolkopenstudios.org/directory, where they can learn about participating artists, see examples of their work, check opening times and plan their route. They can also look out for posters, flyers and pocket-size versions of the directory in galleries, libraries and tourist information centres across the county, as well as following the programme on Facebook and Instagram: search for @suffolkopenstudios.
One feature retained in the directory by popular demand is the “Meet the Artist” section, which highlights the four finalists who chosen by public vote to be the “face” of Suffolk Open Studios on posters, flyers and the directory front cover. This year’s winner is Ruth Simpson with “Summer Hedgerow” – to see Ruth’s work, visit www.suffolkopenstudios.org/artists/ruth-simpson.
Suffolk Open Studios continues to support the work of its nominated charity, Suffolk Artlink. A new joint fund-raising venture this year, “Hares around Bury”, will see artists creating customised hares for display in retail premises around the town, with all entries available for purchase at the Annual Showcase exhibition at the Apex, opening on 27 May.
Suffolk Open Studios background
Run by volunteers, Suffolk Open Studios is open to all Suffolk visual artists and galleries regardless of the media in which they work. Its aim is to celebrate the outstanding and diverse talent of Suffolk-based artists. It welcomes member applications from all artists and galleries based or with studios in Suffolk.
Members open their studios free of charge to the public 11am-5pm over the different weekends of June, choosing to be available on as many weekends as they wish. Many join together to form their own local artists’ “trails”; anyone unable to include their own studio can still take part by renting space with other artists and forming their own artists’ “hub”.
Suffolk Artlink background
Suffolk Artlink develops and delivers inclusive arts programmes in communities which bring skills, support networks, confidence and joy to people in the East. Its creative projects aim to help people transform their lives through the arts, and are delivered in places including community centres, hospitals and hospices, residential homes, refuges and schools.
Their work is led by experienced arts practitioners, encompassing a rich variety of art forms, and delivered in close partnership with care, education, voluntary and community organisations.
More details at www.suffolkartlink.org.uk
Benjamin Sullivan (Haverhill)
Benjamin Sullivan was born in Grimsby and now lives in Suffolk. He studied painting and drawing at Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 2000, and has since gone on to establish a growing reputation as a leading figurative painter.
His work has been widely exhibited, including at the Royal Academy and National Portrait Gallery. Among other distinctions, he was elected a member of the New English Art Club in 2001 and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 2003, becoming the youngest person to be elected to those institutions. In 2017 he won the prestigious BP Portrait Award.
His work can be found in numerous public and private collections, including the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Scottish Academy, Parliament House, Edinburgh, and several Oxford and Cambridge colleges. He is perhaps best known for his portrait of The Queen, commissioned in 2018 to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the RAF Club, of which The Queen is Patron.
More details at www.benjaminsullivan.co.uk.
Cally James (Lawshall, Bury St Edmunds – Suffolk Open Studios Chairperson)
Cally James is a Ceramics artist based in Lawshall, Suffolk, interested in experimenting with different mediums. She works with clay, both fired and unfired, and Plaster of Paris, to explore and expand her sculpture skills. In her recent MA work Cally strived to express emotion and struggle through the posture and surface of her sculptures, focusing particularly on the loss of a limb and how that affects the individual both physically and emotionally.
More recently, she has turned her attention to sharing her art with others through teaching regular classes in her own studio, where she can expand her own skill set at the same time as helping others to develop theirs. In her studio, Cally explores and shares with her students a variety of techniques, including sawdust firing, raku firing and new glazing techniques, while providing the opportunity to create original ceramic art, sculpture and pottery from the individual’s unique perspective.
More details at www.suffolkopenstudios.org/artists/cally-james
Ruth Simpson (Thorpe Morieux, Bury St Edmunds)
After completing a degree in fashion Ruth’s passion for painting returned and a career in Fine Art began. Always inspired by the natural world, she began to create a distinct style of botanical art. Her love of the changing seasons and transformations in colour, texture and light are encapsulated in her artwork.
Many of her canvases show the swathes of wild flowers, busy field edges and dramatic skies which she sees on long family walks. She hopes her paintings will encourage others to appreciate and nurture the environment around them. Surrounded by rolling hills and ancient coppice woods, the landscapes on Ruth’s doorstep inspire her paintings and, working mostly in acrylic paints and inks, she recreates nature’s theatre and portrays the natural world.
More details at www.suffolkopenstudios.org/artists/ruth-simpson.
Klair Bauly (Hessett, Bury St Edmunds)
Klair works in acrylics, painting mostly abstract landscapes with an intuitive angle. She aims to express a sense of calm and peace, taking the observer on a journey to a deeper meditative place. Colour and texture play a fundamental role in her work. She loves to create art which conveys meaning: a sense of freedom that touches the soul.
Her career has encompassed textiles, gardening and art. Painting in acrylics on canvas and board, she is able to express feeling in each piece, aiming to give lasting pleasure to the observer. Colour and texture are the threads binding all her work together.
More details at www.suffolkopenstudios.org/artists/klair-bauly.
Allan Williams (Woodbridge)
Artist and illustrator Allan Williams creates artwork which engages the viewer at different levels: visual, emotional and linguistic. Much of his work is figurative, highly detailed and features illusionism or ‘trompe l’oeil’ effects; other paintings are acutely observed renditions of nature.
Allan works mainly in acrylic or oils on canvas, watercolour and acrylic on paper, and digital prints from computer-generated images. He also reproduces many of his paintings as limited edition giclée prints.
More details at www.suffolkopenstudios.org/artists/allan-williams.
Issie Coe (Weybread)
Issy first came to Suffolk on holiday in 1975 and liked it so much she never went back to Northamptonshire! She fell in love with the countryside, the way of life and the people. She spent a lot of time on the road in her previous job and visited all corners of Britain in the course of her work, but is happiest when heading back home to Suffolk.
Working mainly in watercolour, she is passionate about painting water and boats; also landscapes and skies. She enjoys visiting the many small harbours around the coast to paint “en plein air” and also to gather photographic references for use in the studio. For the last few years, she has been teaching art classes and running workshops from her studio in Weybread. She loves the teaching side and enjoys putting her previous teaching qualification to good use.
More details at www.suffolkopenstudios.org/artists/issy-coe.
Dear Local Artists, East Anglian Artists – Community Artists Database is a free to use search facility, enabling employers and people of the community to easily find local artists.
All entries are also searchable online via Google.
As the database is appearing on public sights rather than being a closed database (as the Community Artists Ltd’s database was) there will be a one off charge of £20 per entry, this will go towards maintaining the site. The database includes images of artists’ work and will have the possibility of embedding YouTube videos into the entries. This gives a better example of each artist and their work.
Supporting Art for Arts Sake
imajaz LTD manages the online database for community artists.
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