Monday, 21 October 2013

Art: Intro to East Street Arts Open Studios 2013 catalogue

The open studios concept is always an intriguing prospect for artists and audiences alike. It’s a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between creator and consumer that is often lacking in a traditional gallery setting.

These are working spaces – the studio is where artists spend their time thinking, creating and making – they are not exhibition spaces. But equally, they are more like homes than workplaces. The studio can often be a reflection of the artist’s personality, their interests and values. Just look at how they are arranged (or not) and you will see that the artists are comfortable and have the space and inspiration to create and make.

How the artists respond to the challenge of opening up their studio is of equal interest to the work itself. Do the artists turn their studios into polished exhibition spaces to showcase their work, or do they simply allow the visitor to get a glimpse of how they work on a day-to-day basis? These are both extremes, of course, but they illustrate one of the most interesting and exciting aspects of open studios – you don’t really know what to expect. Perhaps you will find a series of finished works or maybe just some notes on a computer screen or scribbles on a sketch pad: either way, it offers a fascinating insight.

What is central to the open studios concept is that it’s an opportunity to meet the artists. The audience are encouraged to talk to the artists and understand what it is they do. But it is also beneficial to the artist to see how people engage with their work, and see first-hand the questions their work raises – it is the dialogue that makes the event so rewarding for everyone involved.

So much of our experience of art is through means where the artists themselves are largely absent – perhaps only present as a name or signature style. Whether it is a piece of art hanging on a wall, a digital animation on a computer screen, or a sound installation – we are given the chance to meet and engage with the creator rather than just the objects, installations and happenings that they exhibit.

So take the opportunity to speak to some interesting people and enjoy the unique experience. Take in the art, and feel inspired that so many artists are busy creating such a diverse range of artworks in Leeds.

This introduction was commisioned for the East Street Arts Open Studios programme in October, 2013.

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