GET up close to the work of Harrow’s talented artists as they extend an invite into their homes and workshops.
Harrow Open Studios celebrates its fifth year of allowing fans of painting, jewellery, photography, printing, ceramics and sculpture among other disciplines to tour the very places where the items are made and available to buy.
The group exhibition stretches over two weekends – Saturday, June 9 to Monday, June 11 and Saturday, June 17 to Sunday June 18 – and takes in 19 different locations, some of which are hosting more than exhibitor, from Watford in the north, Ruislip to the west, Harrow Weald in the east and South Harrow to the south.
First-time exhibitor and semi-professional artist Erika Wengenroth, 44, of St Michael’s Crescent, Pinner, said: “I wanted to have a bit more exposure.
“I trained as a silversmith and I haven’t been doing printmaking for very long.
“Harrow Open Studios is well organised and it’s good to see different kinds of jewellery, printing and painting and it’s good to see people in their own homes and see how they work in their studio.”
While the number of participants has dropped from last year’s record of 33 to 27 – some ever-presents having decided to take a year off to focus on certain projects – a new addition for 2012 was a taster exhibition to whet people’s appetites.
This two-day preview was opened by the Mayor of Harrow, Councillor Nizam Ismail, on Saturday at West House in Pinner Memorial Park in Chapel Lane, Pinner, to showcase a selection of the artwork and to give visitors a chance to plan their Harrow Open Studios trail.
Retired engineer turned painter Brian Collins, 73, of Fernleigh Court, North Harrow, said: “I missed the first year of Harrow Open Studios but I have been involved ever since after I converted my garage into a studio.
“When you start out, you have to decide what kind of artist you want to be: do you want to sell or paint what you enjoy?
“Some people go for the selling but the attraction for me is meeting the public – getting the kids around, chatting to people about art, and having children asking about their art exams and questioning: ‘What mediums do you use?’”
Like last year, Harrow Open Studios is holding a children’s competition for young visitors who will be inspired by what they see over the five days of the exhibition.
It is open to all four to 16-year-olds and entrants can submit one piece of artwork in any medium by the closing date of June 23 after filling in an application form.
All entries will be exhibited at Pinner Library in Marsh Road, Pinner, from June 30 to July 7 with the Mayor of Harrow distributing the age category prizes the following day.
They and their parents can enjoy anything from watching a blacksmith working iron in Watford to etchings and hand-rolled felted textiles produced on kitchen tables to an illustrator who builds rod puppets in Pinner.
The majority of exhibitors are still painters, however, who like the rest of their cohort, create impressive and expert works.
Mr Collins said: “I was brought up on the coast and love marine painting. I’m going more professional now and I’d like to get more work in the Royal Society of Marine Artists in The Mall and I’ve exhibited with them for seven years.
“All of us in Harrow Open Studios are professional or semi-professional artists. We like to keep the standards quite high.”
l The opening hours of the 19 individual studios and workshops vary on both weekends so check before visiting. For more details, pick up a brochure from Harrow’s libraries or selected shops or check the web site at www.harrowopenstudios.com.