The upper reaches of the River Dart has always been a fertile and imaginative location. So it’s no surprise that the area that inspired the Elmhirsts & spawned Dartington, would have a wealth of artistic talent bursting forth in the form of ‘TDOS’ – Totnes & Dartington Open Studios.
The event in May this year will celebrate nearly 20 years of inviting the public into the studios of local artists. With 32 artists exhibiting an amazing range of work including painting, sculpture, ceramics, prints, collage and digitally generated images. Subjects and styles vary from traditional to abstract, with something that will appeal to all the visitors who come annually from across Devon and much further afield to see the treasures created here.
Anne Chester King has exhibited each year since 2010: “I really enjoy being part of a local art community that is both artistically rich and stimulating . Being an artist can be isolating and its good to have local artists around to discuss work with.”
The Open Studios Group first formed in 2000 as part of the Totnes & District Millennium Festival. In that year there were nineteen artists and craft workers. The number has remained fairly constant since that time with an Open Studios event taking place each year at the end of May.
Within the Open Studios framework participating artists have come and gone with the turnover retaining the public’s interest. Two original members remain, Paula Cloonan & Ashton Chadwick, although no-one has shown every year.
At each show there has been an interesting mix of media; painters, ceramicists, sculptors, print-makers, photographers, jewellers and weavers.
In 2006 it was decided to include artists from Dartington, so the group was renamed; Totnes & Dartington Open Studios.
Sculptor, Bev Knowlden started artistically by creating sets for stop-frame animations such as ‘Fireman Sam’ and now creates unique, often unsettling sculptures and is also responsible for the free booklet that can be picked up in many shops and cafes all over town.
This features severl maps for artist locations and a short precis of each exhibitor.
The event runs over the late May Bank Holiday weekend and many locations even offer tea & coffee. It’s a fantastic opportunity to browse around town and view a wide variety of excellent work and most artists have work for sale directly from thier houses which can prove to be a rare chance to secure art without gallery expenses added on.
The excellent website, www.totnesopenstudios.co.uk, features latest news, interactive maps , images and short profiles of all the artists in the show.
Totnes & Dartington Open Studios runs from Friday 24th May through to the 27th
Watch one each of the artists’ works exhibiting here: