Perthshire Open Studios
April 2, 2015 by Perthshire Creates
Image: Grand Homard by Andrew Hunter
Now in its eighth year, Perthshire Open Studios has become an important fixture in Scotland’s cultural calendar. Last September over 16,000 visitors took the opportunity to visit some 220 artist studios across Perthshire, Kinross-Shire and neighbouring areas. Perthshire Creates caught up with POS Vice-Chair, Andrew Hunter to find out more.
With hundreds of participating artist studios to visit across 7 colour coded routes; it’s hard to imagine that the Open Studios started life with just a few artists keen to develop more joint opportunities. It’s perhaps harder to believe that POS is run by an active group of committed artists who volunteer their time to ensure this annual event happens year on year.
The open ethos of Perthshire Open Studios has ensured the 9 day event has grown from strength to strength. Participating artists benefit from the joint identity and increased visibility, including being part of the and year-round online directory and printed programme which is distributed locally and across central Scotland.
Providing the tools to make it easy and cost-effective for artists to open their studios up to the public, POS also encourages artists to develop their own preview nights and special events which foster local community spirit.
The area of course has a high concentration of artists and makers based in both the urban and remote rural areas; and the routes create the opportunity for visitors to explore the whole breadth of the landscape. Although the majority of visitors come from across Scotland, increasingly visitors come from all over the UK and overseas also.
Once example last year was a couple from South Yorkshire who only meant to come to the area for 3 nights, but they got carried away and visited some 40 venues in 7 nights. Apparently by the end of their trip they couldn’t fit any more in their car due to all the artworks they had bought.
The event generates direct economic benefits for artists and also hotels, restaurants and other service providers; however there are other benefits to being part of POS, Andrew explains, “Whether you are an established artist or just starting out in your career, it’s a great way of testing out if anyone is interested in your work. POS is open to anyone to take part, therefore it’s fair, a real leveller and a good opportunity to speak to your potential customers.”
Formerly a Creative Director with a number of creative agencies, Andrew Hunter now paints both traditional canvases and on to Oak woodblocks, which he sources from a local craftsman. Andrew is also part of Studios North, a collective of artists and makers living and working in Highland Perthshire.
Andrew’s top tip for participating in the Open Studios is to have a variety of products with different pricing structures to ensure that there is something for all budgets; particularly if the aforementioned couple don’t happen to pop by!
Andrew has worked with POS over the last few years to further develop the brand and identity. The colour coded, numbered system designs make it easy for visitors to get around; and symbols used within the programme even highlight which artists have studios open all year round.
Good communication and partnerships are central to POS’s work – locally and further afield; and they have worked with other Open Studios across Scotland to share learning, practice and profile each other’s events.
Last year’s Showcase Exhibition at the Bield was very successful and the POS team are keen to encourage each route to have their own mini showcase to raise the profile of their artists and makers.
This year’s Perthshire Open Studios runs from 5th – 13th September 2015.