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Herts Open Studios: opening up the world of Herts art

PUBLISHED: 11:04 11 September 2017 | UPDATED: 11:04 11 September 2017

Jane Sleator in her studio. All her pieces are hand thrown

Jane Sleator in her studio. All her pieces are hand thrown

jane sleator

Herts Visual Art’s flagship annual event, Herts Open Studios will see hundreds of artists opening up their private work spaces to the public this month. Sandra Smith picks three to whet your appetite

Kimpton School Orchestra, Tim Edwards Kimpton School Orchestra, Tim Edwards

From sculptors and printmakers to jewellers and photographers, the fabulous world of Hertfordshire art will be on display and for sale in the artitst’s studios where it was created. For three weeks this September, you have the chance to talk to hundreds of artists, see them at work and even have a go yourself at Herts Open Studios 2017. Here are three very different artists taking part in the event.

The illustrator

Tim Edwards, who lives in the village of Kimpton near Welwyn, is a finance director with no structured artistic training. Nor does he work in a studio or rely on a bank of ideas. Yet his pen and ink images are amusingly quirky. In fact, you can hardly look at them without the iconic illustrator, Quentin Blake, springing to mind.

Kimpton Autumn Show, Tim Edwards Kimpton Autumn Show, Tim Edwards

‘I’ve always made birthday and thank you cards for people. I can never think of what to do until I have a pen in my hand and then inspiration comes.’

Hundreds of images are created at Tim’s office desk. He begins with a pencil sketch on watercolour paper, which he goes over using a quill pen dipped in Winsor and Newton black ink, before a final watercolour wash.

‘I try to catch the impression of something,’ Tim adds. ‘I often draw a blank face or the back of a head rather than trying to capture a likeness – that comes in the way someone stands or what they are doing.’

Many of his images have a musical theme that reflect his passion for the trumpet, piano and double bass. He also teaches music in a primary school.

Siesta by Christina Pattison shows her love of primary colours Siesta by Christina Pattison shows her love of primary colours

Along with five other artists, Tim will be exhibiting at Kimpton’s Dacre Rooms where cards will be for sale along with his photographs of local scenes, another of his interests.

‘I like the intimacy of Herts Open Studios – of being there and seeing local people come in to chat. Some want to look, others to buy. I like to show my work, it’s all part of creativity.’


Bowl, Jane Sleator Bowl, Jane Sleator

The potter

‘My interest in ceramics began when a colleague brought in some mugs his wife had made. They were gorgeous and I wanted to be able to make them.’

Knebworth’s wheel-thrown potter Jane Sleator was working as a TV researcher at the time of this revelation but soon enrolled on pottery evening classes to build her knowledge and skill. Replacing TV work with motherhood, however, prompted her to choose between ceramics as a hobby or profession. She opted for a new career, signing up for a degree course in ceramics at the University of Westminster. After graduation in 2008 she set up her own business.

‘To begin with I set up a studio in the garage but once I outgrew that I had a studio built in the garden. It’s big enough to run workshops and this is where I’ll be exhibiting. Visitors will have the opportunity to have a go on the wheel.’

Have a Drink on Me by Christina Pattison - 'I love Britain and love village life' Have a Drink on Me by Christina Pattison - 'I love Britain and love village life'

Many of Jane’s designs are inspired by nature, especially trees.

‘I love the texture of tree bark. I want to combine this roughness with a glaze. It’s a tactile approach. Using clay I make moulds of sections of trees which can take several attempts as I make a negative and a positive to see which has the best effect.’

Jane is similarly intrigued by leaf patterns though takes care not to just copy nature, instead creating abstract versions of the natural world before painting each piece individually.

In the studio there’ll be a range of unique ceramics on display as well as examples by Jane’s students.


The painter

Bright, primary colours and Swedish folklore combine in dreamlike images, which not only radiate self-expression, spirituality and energy, but reflect Christina Pattison’s background and outlook.

‘My motto is to give joy through my paintings,’ the Barley artist declares. ‘I’m a bit of a gypsy having lived in three countries. You take a little of where you are. I love Britain and love village life.’

Christina takes inspiration from her everyday surroundings. Her subjects, many of which stem from her family, incorporate a love of nature and simplicity. The physicality in her acrylics showcases her fascination with light.

‘I love flowers and, like Van Gogh, my work is joyous. I come from Stockholm. In Sweden it’s so dark in winter, that’s why I like colour. I used to paint very large but now I’m trying to teach myself to paint small squares. You have to think a little bit of the public – they don’t always want big paintings. I’m also planning more now. I like a story, I want my paintings to tell a tale.’

A Herts Open Studios veteran, this engaging artist will be exhibiting at her Burloes Farm Studio and is exctied about the event.

‘People are much more involved and interested in art these days,’ she says. ‘They come from a long way which is marvellous. I like to share my art and talk about it and see what they see – everyone picks up something different and I want to hear their stories, where they are in life.’


Herts Open Studios takes place from Saturday September 9 to Sunday October 1, with artworks for sale, demonstations and workshops. For the full list of exhibitors and events, go to hvaf.org.uk


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