Norfolk open studios gets under way
Mary HamiltonAmid the riot of preparation for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, artists across the county are getting ready to open their studios to the public to showcase the work they produce.Mary Hamilton
Amid the riot of preparation for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, artists across the county are getting ready to open their studios to the public to showcase the work they produce.
After the Festival ends, more than 330 artists will open their homes, sheds and studio spaces to let people glimpse the creation of their masterpieces.
As the largest visual art event in the region, Norfolk Open Studios is an opportunity for artists to connect with each other and with the people who appreciate, commission and purchase their work.
Painters, photographers, sculptors, illustrators and artists of all kinds running workshops, painting portraits, teaching techniques and revealing the inner workings of their arts.
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In 2009, an estimated 27,400 members of the public roamed the county to visit more than 250 participating artists in 253 venues - and art worth an estimated total of �221,628 was sold.
The event is now in its 16th year, and this will be the second time it has been organised by the Festival team, who have worked to build on previous successes by involving schools in the programme and encouraging artists to work together to create local art trails.
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Trails will run through villages all over Norfolk, ranging from a circular bicycle trail through Loddon, Rockland St Mary and Bergh Apton to a butterfly trail for children at the Assembly House in Norwich.
Photographer Tricia Frances has created the butterfly trail with painter Chris Kendrick, and will be asking visitors to answer questions about the butterfly designs in their work and hidden in the Assembly House.
Children will also be able to make their own recycled butterflies during the trail, which runs in half term week.
'I think the best way to get children involved and interested in art is to let them ask questions,' said 56-year-old Ms Frances, who also teaches at Taverham High School. 'I think they should have the opportunity to have a look at things up close.
'I got involved with Open Studios as a way of exposing my work to more people. Three years ago I had a canvas in the taster exhibition and it sold, so since then I have tried to get more involved.
'Creating art is a very solitary experience, and I travel a lot, so I rarely get the chance to meet other artists - I have met people at the printers a couple of times but it can be hard to find like-minded people.
'Open Studios is great for getting artists to talk to each other and meet up and to get you on your way to making friends.'
Norfolk Open Studios runs from May 22 to June 6, with taster exhibitions from May 8 to May 13 at the Forum and May 15 and 16 at St Lawrence Centre for Training and the Arts, South Walsham.
For more information and to get a brochure call 01603 877757 or visit www.nnfestival.org.uk/norfolk-open-studios.