Held every summer since 1769, the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition is the world’s oldest open submission exhibition and is rightly celebrated for its eclectic mix of work by celebrated artists alongside emerging talent and gifted amateurs. Well, if you love the Summer Exhibition, chances are you will really enjoy Swindon Open Studios, an annual event taking place this year over two weekends (21, 22, 28, 29 September).
Established in 2004 and an annual event since 2008, Swindon Open Studios is a community exhibition where artists invite members of the public into their studios and homes or to pop-up galleries in galleries, shops or libraries.
This unmissable event for art junkies is organised by a committee of volunteers who are passionate about art and keen to publicise each other and the sheer diversity of artwork being produced in Swindon. This year over 100 local artists are taking part, specialising in a variety of media and working in every imaginable genre. And like the Royal Academy’s big show, all the artworks on display are for sale, so you can pick up some truly original art for your home.
No invitation is required, just turn up on the day at an artist’s home, or better still make a day of it and visit various artists. Participants will relish discussing their work and inspiration, and you may even get tea and cake!
Among the artists exhibiting this year are Caroline Day whose large-scale floral paintings are a riot of colour, light and structure, and whose work can be found on an exclusive range of artwork in English Heritage gift shops. Also inspired by nature are the paintings of Sholeh Jafari, though in this case her vivid, almost abstract works are rooted in her native Iran.
A more figurative painter is Caryn Koh who reimagines her adolescent years and draws them in various situations based on what she has been through or her thoughts on topical issues. Exhibiting at Richard Jefferies Museum is John Webb whose output includes landscapes, seascapes, wildlife, churches and railways. As an art student in 1962, John was able to make his own historical record in art of Swindon’s Railway Workshops before their dissolution. Many of these works, created on-site, are featured in Swindon Open Studios.
Maria Fielding describes her work as an exploration of the sublime and the ridiculous, expressed through a variety of media from pencil and oils to digital and film. Paul Exton’s drawings are inspired from architecture, geometry, and abstract landscapes. John Maskalaniec is an abstract artist who produces works of art depicting environmental damage to the planet, including one sculpture called "The Original Sin”, a serpent entwined in exhaust pipes and CDs spitting out Co2 emissions.
That’s just a taster from a formidable and diverse line-up, for information on all one hundred artists featured in Swindon Open Studios and where you can view their work go to www.swindonopenstudios.org