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5 artists opening their doors for Herts Open Studios

PUBLISHED: 10:59 28 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:53 30 August 2018

Gaye Daniels in her Chorleywood studio

Gaye Daniels in her Chorleywood studio

Gaye Daniels

For three weeks in September, more than 150 artists will take part in Herts Open Studios - a chance for the public to meet them in their work spaces and watch the creative process

In her first year as chairman of Herts Open Studios, Hillary Taylor set herself the goal of visiting every art space. Underestimating the logistics of so much travel to so many venues meant she didn’t quite meet the target. The experience however gave her a valuable insight into this annual event, an insight she is keen for the public to have too.

‘My real take away from last year is there were events I wouldn’t normally go to but the minute I walked through the door there was more than one positive thing,’ she expains. ‘What you can learn from the artist, what you can understand, an appreciation of their skill. It’s all experience. I want people to look on Herts Open Studios as an adventure, to absorb what’s going on.’

Sassy teapot by Sarah CoreSassy teapot by Sarah Core

The beginnings of this arts extravaganza date back nearly 30 years to when a small group of artists encouraged visitors to their homes. This September more than 150 creatives will exhibit in 67 venues which include homes, studios, gallery spaces, private gardens and pop up shops.

Although Hillary steers the organisation, volunteers provide essential back up.

Street Flowers St Laurent du Var. Gaye DanielsStreet Flowers St Laurent du Var. Gaye Daniels

‘I have a core team which includes area coordinators. Some dip in and out and volunteer for different events or purposes such as proofreading and layout of brochures (15,000 distributed this summer), refreshing kerbside bunting (the 2018 colour is yellow and purple) and signage. Then there’s marketing and advertising.

Exhibitors (of whom approximately a third are new each year) may be professional, amateur or hobbyist; the only criteria is that they need to live or work in the county.

Gerry Wilmer's studioGerry Wilmer's studio

The variety of disciplines on display continues to evolve. Mixed media is increasingly common and the number of artists using computer graphics also grows. No wonder an estimated 12,000 visitors are expected between September 8-30. While many artists will be hoping for sales, this isn’t necessarily the aim, Hillary says. ‘For some, Open Studios is an opportunity to exhibit, the next step on a journey which, perhaps, might lead to something in the future. Others just want to open their studio and talk to people.’

Blacksmith Pete WilliamsonBlacksmith Pete Williamson

Hillary, who shares ideas with other Open Studios organisations, confirms that the fundamental ethos, which is non profit making, has changed little since its inception in 1990.

‘We want to offer members of the public the opportunity to meet and experience what an artist does, to open an art world to those who may not otherwise have that opportunity.’

If that isn’t enough to whet your appetite, here are Hillary’s selection of five inspiring artists to get you started.

Pete has been commissioned to make everything from sculpture to signage, or as here, an ornate hammer with a dragon's headPete has been commissioned to make everything from sculpture to signage, or as here, an ornate hammer with a dragon's head

• Sarah Core

‘My first Herts Open Studios is a way of raising my profile. At my Barnet studio (a converted shipping container) I’ll be exhibiting ceramic tableware with some selected pieces of my figurative sculpture. I work in high fired stoneware ceramics and the freedom of these forms, and vivid colours, expresses aspects of myself.’

September 8 & 15, 11.30am-5pm. 184-186 Enterprise Yard, Oakleigh Road North N20 0UA sarahcorearts.com

One of Graham's abstract paintings (photo: Simon Foster)One of Graham's abstract paintings (photo: Simon Foster)

• Gaye Daniels

Another first timer, Chorleywood abstract acrylic artist Gaye Daniels wants the public to see her in action. She says, ‘I start with an idea or image, play around with it, and then let it take its own journey. I would be delighted if I can give new artists any tips and just talk to the public about my work and what inspires me.’

September 8,15,16,22,23,29 & 30, 11am-4pm. The Studio, West Clayton, Chorleywood WD3 5EX gayedaniels.com

Graham Boyd (photo: Simon Foster)Graham Boyd (photo: Simon Foster)

• Peter Williamson

Peter is Herts Open Studios first blacksmith for a while and there’ll be plenty of people wanting to go and see him.

‘There’ll be kitchen knives, necklaces and fire baskets at my Abbots Langley home. And there may be a time slot allocated to a forging demonstration. As blacksmithing has many things to be curious about I have intellectual conversations that feel educational and informative, and broaden my mind.’

September 8,9,14-16,21-23,28-30, 10.30am-5.30pm (forging Saturdays 2-4pm). 11 The Grayings, Abbots Langley WD5 0JQ petefire.co.uk

Graham Boyd paints his large canvasses on the floor with a long brush (photo: Simon Foster)Graham Boyd paints his large canvasses on the floor with a long brush (photo: Simon Foster)

• Gerry Wilmer

‘I use the stairway and hallways of my small flat in St Albans as a gallery. The main room is my studio where my painting equipment and sketchbooks will be on display. My inspiration comes from a deep love of the countryside and the sea. I’ll showcase my artworks in a fun and informal way, and talk about the way I work.’

September 9,10,12,14,19,21,23,24,26,28 & 30, Sat 11am-5pm, Sun/Tues/Thurs 12.30-5pm. 11 Cotswold Close, St Albans AL4 9SU gerrywilmersketchblog.com

• Graham Boyd

‘These events are an excellent chance for informal interaction with visitors of all ages and background art experience,’ says the 90-year-old abstract acrylic painter from Chipperfield, a Herts Open Studios veteran. ‘I believe they can stimulate interest for people to see the varying work sites and conditions where art is made, increasing their understanding of the creative process.’ u
September 9,10,15,16,17,22,23 & 24, 1.30-6.30pm. 54 Scatterdells Lane, Chipperfield WD4 9EX grahamboyd.co.uk

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Herts Open Studios takes place from September 8-30. For details of all this year’s artists and venues, visit hvaf.org.uk

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