Open Studios is now an established format for artists to present and promote their artwork directly to the public. Anne Barrell, a ceramic and mixed media artist based in Eastbourne, talks to us below about her experience of Open Studios and also gives us an insight into some of the people, places and experiences which have helped inform her practice:
Anne Barrell in her own words........
I have participated in Open Studios or Open Houses since 2001 when I first got a studio at Cockpit Arts in Holborn London. After moving to Eastbourne in 2004 I participated in Open Houses in Brighton and Eastbourne, but I’m delighted to be returning to Cockpit this June as an Alumni member. Only studio members or invited ex studio members can show at Cockpit Arts. I have also opened my current studio in Eastbourne.
I really enjoy showing people my work and it’s great for them to see the studio environment. However because you want the surroundings to do justice to your work there is normally a lot of tidying up to be done first. Cockpit is a really buzzing Open Studios with thousands of visitors through the door. You get a mixture of age groups and most are keen to buy and see the latest work from a diverse range of designer makers. Cockpit Arts also attracts press interest and magazine stylists.
I find that although I get a fair amount of the middle aged professional female buyer I also get men and couples. I definitely get repeat buyers and do encourage visitors to sign up to my mailing list so they get the first invites to future events. This means that they get a chance to be first through the door and choose from the widest range of work. I do enjoy selling directly to customers and I find Open Studios an effective way to do this. One of the key benefits is the fact that you get a chance to discuss and talk about your work.
Right from nursery school, art was always my favourite subject and I would pester my mum to hurry up so I could get on the painting table. When I was off sick for two weeks with a bad case of the flu I created an entire model village from cardboard boxes complete with gymkhana and scary caves painted with fluorescent colours for my Pippa dolls. I won a prize on my return to school.
There are so many artists and designers whose work I admire, just some are; Barbara Hepworth for her sculpture and drawings, Nikki De Saint Phalle for her sculpture and playfulness, Nan Goldin and Richard Billingham for beautiful photography, Martin Parr for his photographic eye, and I seem to enjoy all of Grayson Perry’s work for it’s craft and insight. Lately I have been looking at Branksome China- beautiful colours and forms and the work of Charles and Ray Eames.
I enjoy both the city and the countryside having lived in central London for 16 years before moving to Eastbourne. I love the coast and am very interested in ships and boats at the moment. My other favourite city is New York and I spent some time there in the 1980’s. Now I’m older I enjoy the outdoors more than nightlife.
If I wasn’t an artist I would like to be a pilot or an architect. I flew a glider last year and it was amazing- I made a little film up there.
My favourite times of day are first thing in the morning when I’ve got the whole day ahead and the bit in the evening when I feel I can sit down and maybe have a glass of wine. About three in the afternoon I could do with a nap, so I tend to save an easy repetitive task for then with a strong cup of coffee. Mornings are my best time for getting things done but I’m always thinking of new ideas, too many really, so I just jot them down in a notebook.
I don’t keep a blog yet but it really is next on my list and I want to make it really interesting about art, design, culture and not just about me and my work.
I seem to always have an enormous pile of books by my bed. I’m reading Pattern by Orla Kiely which I though was going to be just nice pictures but had actually turned out to be a really interesting and inspiring account of her design philosophy, inspiration, business and career progress. I’m also reading ‘for pleasure’ The Coral Thief by Rebecca Stott, which I’m really enjoying so far, but I’ve only just started it- it’s for my book club.
When I’m not creating art or looking at art, I enjoy dinghy sailing and cycling trips. Both these activities seem to involve getting wet and an element of endurance, although primarily they are social activities and a release from beavering away with only the radio for company.