Buckinghamshire Open Studios

13 March 2015

Back in January I told you about a one day course that I did at Morely College. I blogged about it here. 

I hinted that, with a couple of colleagues, I hoped to do an 'open studios' event later this year. 

Well - it's happening! We are in, and now it is full steam ahead with the preparations.

So, let me explain how we got to this point. 

For a few years now I have been visiting open studio events in and around Milton Keynes. The Bucks open studios runs for the first three weeks every June. I have seen textile work, ceramics, printing and painting in venues as diverse as peoples Garden Studios, converted garage studios, churches and village halls.

I have marvelled at the quality of the work on display and the generosity of the artists who share their work so publicly. I have sipped tea in beautiful gardens adorned with stunning ceramic sculptures and, if I am wholly truthful, I have been a little envious of some of the stunning spaces that local artists work in. And I have wondered - could I do this?  Should I do this? 

I guess for us all there is always that nagging self doubt - am I good enough? Is my work good enough to share with other people? For the last couple of years I have tested this out with other textile people. I have submitted work to the contemporary quilt gallery at Festival of quilts and I'm pleased to say that I had have been selected on the two occasions that I submitted work. I have also entered machine embroidery pieces at the Uttoxeter quilt and stitch village event which runs every year in April. 

But I am not really a quilter, although that is how I started on this journey. Really I am an embroiderer or, I suppose, mixed media artist. I guess the point is I don't really fit into a box very easily. And for this reason I don't have a particularly strong drive to enter work into the general Festival of quilts exhibition. I love looking at other peoples quilts but making them myself doesn't really float my boat artistically. So the question in my mind has been how do I show my work? What is the right environment? Who is my audience?

And for this reason I have been wondering about open studios for a little while now. And I have to say that really last year I thought, yes, I really ought to try the open studio event. So towards the back end of 2014 I did a bit of research and discovered how to apply for the Bucks open studios.

It was actually very straightforward. Once I'd found the organisers website (and my timing was perfect since the application had to be in by the end of January) it was then a case of joining the Visual Arts Group, who run the Open Studios event in Buckinghamshire, and then submitting an application. 

I did not want to do this by myself, I felt from a visitor's point of view that a variety of work on show would be more appealing and I also was concerned that I might not have a large enough body of work to fill the space. So I contacted Jane Charles, who I had met doing city and guilds a few years ago, and she jumped at the opportunity to share the space. Jane in turn contacted another textile artist, Yvonne Elliott, who was also very enthusiastic about the opportunity.

So three of us are going to share my studio space. 

Meanwhile, joining the Visual Arts Group and applying for the open studios seems to have opened more doors. A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a local portrait artist, Peter Keegan, who invited us to partake in the Winslow Art Trail. This is really a localised promotion of the open studios event in the North Bucks area where we are based. 

So with a couple of months to go we are focused on organising our contribution to the promotion of the event. We have a page on the main open Studios website, we are contributing to The Art Trail and we are designing a promotional logo for our own work.

And of course we are all busy creating new work.  Peter advised us that last year over the 5 days he was open he had over 200 visitors! That is quite a daunting statistic but if we focus and we are organised I'm sure we will be fine.



  1. I wish you all every success and maybe I'll make a visit to Buckinghamshire!

    1. Do, do. We're at the Northern end, near Buckingham itself.

  2. Brilliant! Exciting stuff. I hope it all goes well for you all.

  3. Oh I hope all the best for you! Sounds like it is a wonderful opportunity.
    Sandy in Bracknell

  4. Bravo to you. Wishing you an exciting time before, during and after the event.

  5. You will love it Hailary and very wise to do a group too. At least that way you will still have a chance to go and see other's work that way!! Have a blast and I look forward to seeing the pictures.

  6. Ooooo, how very exciting Hilary, I really hope that I will be one of many to pay you a visit. Good luck.


    1. Lin, it would be lovely to see you. I think you know Jane Charles, one of the other exhibitors.

  7. This sounds the perfect way to dip your toe in, especially as a group effort for support. Mixed media is difficult - so many venues where you really don't fit. But this sort of thing should work well. It's all about exposure. Good luck!

  8. I'm so thrilled that you have this fantastic opportunity and truly impressed that you're stepping into this exhibition forum. I KNOW that everything you produce for this will be truly splendid and beautiful and you'll captivate every visitor lucky to enjoy your work in person. I very much wish I lived closer so that I could visit! Congratulatory hugs from Shroo:)x

  9. Fantastic news. Glad that the Makerhood session at Morley (and Gabriela in particular) helped you take the plunge! And it's great that you've got into a group of like-minded creative people who can offer support and encouragement. Hope it goes well! x

  10. We did the rounds of Bucks Open Studios every year until we moved to France. Mostly South Bucks...beautiful studios...gardens...etc....I miss being there for the event. :-(


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