Aug 29, 2012

112 Theydon Street - An Open House

One of the most interesting and sometimes surprising aspects for visitors of the E17 Art Trail is just how many artists open their house or personal studio space up as a gallery. It has become a distinctive feature for the trail as well as opened up new boundaries between artists and viewers that transcends the formal gallery experience.

Steven Smith will be opening his home and exhibiting for the third art trail in a row. On his first time exhibiting and opening his house, as you can imagine he was very apprehensive, I mean 100+ strangers coming into your personal space to see you would be a lot of pressure from the common sense that they are strangers to the fact that your work can't hide behind the artistic discourse of a gallery. It is an apprehension that many trail artists who are opening their houses feel. But that first trail where Steven opened his house up was such a pleasant experience that he all those apprehensions went away.

He was telling me how it becomes such a easy going and welcoming atmosphere with the space between artist and viewer so intimate, but so relaxed. People are interested and come and chat with the artist and it is equally interesting for the artist to observe people wondering through work in their garden, living room or studio even. It isn't just selective pieces of work, but they get too see a wider range, plus bits of work in progress and even artwork that isn't part of a set exhibition. For instance, Steven is also a photographer, and has his photographs on display around the house and garden any ways. The informality really creates a neighbourhood vibe, with people staying for either 10 minutes to a couple of hours, viewing, chatting and gorging on cake!

He enjoyed the atmosphere of opening his house so much that the following year he decided to host not just his work in the house, but also another exhibition from another artist and this year he has 3 different exhibitions taking place.Wonder round his garden, living room and studio and see his wonderfully crafted ceramics as well as illustrations by Michelle Doust. There will also be hand-made jewellery dotted around by Gina-Marie Agbanlog, and if weather permitting there will also be a pop-up show in the garden selling vintage homeware!

There are more and more artists opening their houses every year, in fact when Steven took part in 2010 the art trail's map had to be extended to include him! But now there things dotted all over the area, the trail gets bigger and artists hospitality increases. It is really worth checking as many open house exhibits as you can, and get round to this one to, eat cake, drink tea, see art and talk endlessly to the artists!

This venue is no. 93 in the guide

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