Tag: PhilomenaHarmsworth

Artists at work in Bridport, West Dorset

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Spending a couple of hours chatting to artists at St Michael’s Studios today in Bridport was fun. Artists studios in Bridport and the surrounding West Dorset villages are open to the public for the week, a great opportunity to discover new talent or have a look at more established artists’ new work.

It’s always inspiring to look at art but I find the people behind the paintings, the photography or the montages equally interesting. That’s what I love about the idea of Open Studios. Seeing the artists working is quite a mixed feeling. On the one hand it’s fascinating to see the image slowly -or quickly- appear on paper, canvas or screen but on the other there is a certain feeling of intrusion.

Some are happy to keep on working, clearly in their own world, their mind inside the canvas, others would rather chat and feel a bit awkward at having somebody looking over their shoulder, and I can’t blame them. The art on show is very varied and I only saw a tiny part at St Michaels’. There are 58 venues in all and 100 artists. Pottery, textiles, furniture, woodcraft, jewellery, millinery, sculpture, digital art, screen printing… Something for everyone?

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Philomena Harmsworth working during Bridport Open Studios 2011

Artist at St Michael's Studio, Bridport
Copyright Nathalie Roberts

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Bridport Open Studios’ 2011 launch

Bridport and West Dorset Open Studios is becoming quite a busy affair if the launch at the Bull Hotel yesterday was anything to go by. It was a really pleasant evening filled with artists and art lovers. All the local artists who take part in the Bridport Open Studios submitted three 6×9″ artwork which was displayed along the long walls of the Ball Room with prices almost as eclectic as the art on show.

Affordable art
Having said that there was nothing above £90 so it was all affordable, even from more established artists like Kit Glaisyer or John Boyd. Many artists were there which was great for buyers who could have a chat with them and for artists who could tempt the art lover to come and see larger work in their studio in the coming week.

How did Bridport Open Studios start?
I had a chat with Caroline Ireland who started Bridport Open Studios in 1999. Back then, she knew there were a fair few artists working locally but there was a lack of outlets for showing their work and coordination was needed to reach out to the public. A few posters around the town, some meetings, a lot of hard work and the annual event was born. It gets bigger every year attracting more and more artists and art lovers.

This year, the team who organise the Bridport and West Dorset Open Studios was headed by fellow artist Philomena Harmsworth who directed the 10 day long event. With 58 venues, some with several artists, the usual August Bank Holiday weekend was getting too short if you wanted to see all the local artists studios (or even half!).

 7 year old art lover invests in an original watercolour
My favourite part of the evening, apart from chatting with several artists and friends, was to see seven year old Sarah proudly hand her £2 pocket money to buy an original work of art from Sheila Edmunds. Sheila is part of ‘Spectrum’ a collective of talented amateur artists who will show their work in the Friends Meeting House in South Street on Saturday 21st. As for little Sarah, she was very happy with her watercolour of a dog that she tells me she will hang in her room.

Bridport and West Dorset Open Studios, 21-30 May 2011.
Brochure with participating artists’ addresses available from Bridport Arts and Crafts, tourist information centre and many shops around Bridport or online:

Sarah buys a watercolour at the Bridport Open Studios