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25 July 2011

Jamaica Street Artists Open Studios 2011!

(above) Helen Williams' owl creations

Yesterday marked my second visit to JSA (Jamaica Street Artists) Open Studios event. Amazed that already a whole year has passed since my first visit! Last time was brilliant and quite honestly so was this time with some new artists as well as some new work from the familiar ones. There were a couple film makers and animators there this year (well, if they were there the year before..I might have missed them...sorry) and the usual mix of graphic artists, illustrators, painters, textile art, mixed media, collage, printmaking and more. Although listing it that way doesn't really do it justice, because there's a really diverse range of painting styles, from hyper-realistic/photographic paintings from the likes of Karin Krommes and Philip Munoz to the more abstract work of Elaine Jones. Anyway, what I really enjoy about visiting these studios and meeting some of the artists who work there is how each space has its own individuality, so as well as seeing the work you see the kind of context its made in. It is a bit like going into someones house, where the character of their environment is reflected in the work they produce. For example, Graeme Mortimer Evelyn's studio is taken up with lots of books and a big wooden work bench that he uses for chiseling his wooden semi-abstract pieces. Whilst down the corridor, Mr Mead (as he likes to be known) has one of the few studio spaces with no windows, which actually really suits his work (see image below) which is dark and if I was making work on a similar theme I'd probably want a space that reflected that. In nearly all the spaces there's interesting stuff on the walls as well as (importantly!) the work itself.

Whilst I find London art galleries inspiring in an academic and 'thinking', conceptual way, I think for being inspired (in what I would call the truest sense of the word) in a motivational and 'cor! I want to try that!' kind-of way then what is happening on my doorstep, by the likes of Jamaica Street artists, recent graduate shows etc. is much more valuable and gives me confidence as an artist than any shows I've probably EVER seen in London. From open studio visits like this one, you tend to take away ideas, colours, textures, materials and stuff that you think you'd like to use in your own work. For example, I was thinking I'd like to start using wood stain to paint with and try some things with, not because I saw anyone doing that at Jamaica Street but because you get that creative, sort-of bubbling in a place where lots of artists are working and it genuinely is inspiring. No frills, no art jargon, there's something very honest and celebratory in the fact that the studios present themselves as what they are. They seem to say, 'Hi, yes I am an artist. This is my studio and this is where I make art.' That's not to say there isn't any mystery or that there isn't a great deal of research and knowledge that is both informing and can be read into the work, but all I'm saying is it is very refreshing to just meet artists that are both contemporary and enjoy doing what they do. As the fantastic quote at the beginning of the JSA catalogue reads, "Its astonishing the great Professor of art has written: 'There really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists." Nice one!

There are plenty of artists here. I'd really recommend paying a visit here, well you'll have to wait a year, but it'd definitely be worth it. See you next year!

Alternatively, you could look at the pictures below and if you're really keen have a look on the JSA website (link at the bottom of this post).

(above) Karin Krommes Outside Jamaica Street Studios

(above) 'Voxman' on the door of Mr Mead's studio space

(above) Dan Parry-Jones

(above) Detail of one of Rose Sanderson's mixed media pieces

(above) Some more reasons why visiting Jamaica Street/Stokes Croft, Bristol is always exciting.

(above) You may have seen it many times before, but this is still a fine example of why Bristol is one of the best cities for graffiti art.
For more info on Jamaica Street artists please click below:

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