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  • Writer's pictureClaire Hilton

Worcestershire Open Studios 2018

One of my few resolutions this year was that I was going to take part in Worcestershire Open Studios this year as an independent creative and artist in my own right. I have taken part in previous years as part of groups and curated exhibitions for others but 2018 I decided was my year!

Its a funny old thing making art, I do it in many forms: playfully - when it may lead to something and it may not (and I'm OK with either outcome), with purpose - for this exhibition or to fit this frame or for this reason, or as reflective practice as an Art Therapist (in groups or on my own as an expression of a feeling or experience). On the other side of this metaphorical coin I HAVE to make art. Not only do I need to to keep up with my continued professional development and make sure I am ticking all the boxes as far as national standards for Art Therapists, but also because I really do need to. With the benefit of hindsight in the darkest times in my life when I've really struggled, these have been times when being creative didn't form any part of my job or existence as a human. The day I realised this was nothing short of an epiphany!!

Back to Worcestershire Open Studios. For those who don't know anything about it, it happens every year in Worcestershire over the August bank holiday weekend and people open up their studio spaces to the public and talk about their practice and demonstrate as well as sell some pieces and cards and things to the general public. I decided to do this slightly differently as my art studio (where I make most of my work) is out in the sticks on the way to Hereford so I decided to use a city centre venue where I also run my monthly 'Drink and Doodle' event The Paul Pry Pub. This is a really great independent pub with a record player and family backing with Popes Brewery making their own beer and the wonderful Wendy making THE best scotch eggs and sausage rolls (I digress). I set up in the back room for three days. I had art materials and was making for 4-5 hours there each day and chatting with people who found me through the guide. There were 81 locations listed in all, mapped out for visitors, as well as images and a blurb about each person or group and their kind of art. I do tend to find that the fact that I am an Art Therapist is something people find intriguing so that was listed, as well as the fact I work in 'Mixed media'.

My own artwork is varied in practice. I like to paint, collage, use found objects or materials as well as having worked in ceramics, photography and sculptural pieces. I do as I feel. I would hate to feel pigeon holed, restricted as to the things I 'do' and things that I don't. My work does tend to go in waves, I might concentrate something for some time and maybe exhaust that or find something else that catches my attention. I also work with groups fairly regularly and in those groups I tend to use mixed media processes. I provide sharpies and tissue paper and shiny things and let people play and explore. This is continued in my own work and sometimes pieces begin their metamorphosis in those open groups, before being buffed and polished into its completed form. The display of my work therefore tends to be varied, show a journey of introducing new materials or ways of working as I experiment.

I displayed 21 pieces in total on the walls and displayed on stands. This included original lino cuts, hand finished prints, collage work and oil paintings. I also had a browser and made things when I was there - playing with craft metal on Saturday and demonstrating gold leaf on Sunday. Overall it was a very positive experience. People chatted to me about their own interests in art as well as Art Therapy and what I did and my freelance work. I was glad of the fire and the warmth of the atmosphere at the pub at times and actually ended up in a convenient triangle with 2 other participating venues, within walking distance. This meant we could refer people backwards and forwards and I enjoyed the company of nearly 100 visitors over 3 days. I was exhausted after Monday finished (and a two and a half hour close down for me!!) but it was definitely worth it.

If you've read this far then I'm very impressed and I promise my ramblings have a succinct point towards the end! In summary - I really enjoyed it, would love to do it again and wish I had had the time to do it sooner and I would like to thank the people that chatted, visited, purchased and showed and interest in what I do because that is definitely appreciated, The Kestrel Gallery and Studio (who do all my professional framing) for helping with my framing, receiving my ranting and fulfilling my tea based needs, and The Paul Pry for letting me take over half their pub and being so supportive in my freelance endeavours.

I met some great people, sold some work to some lovely new homes as well as spreading the word about my events and what Art Therapy actually means (outside of a colouring book).

“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”

C. JoyBell C.

Now this quote above was only brought to my attention today and I will be honest I have pinched it for this purpose (sorry Hannah)

but I can't think of a better way to describe the process. Its scary, I did it anyway, and I lived.

Until next year :)

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