This year's Somerset Art Works Open Studios was officially declared open by our Chairman Richard Pomeroy on Friday evening.
The celebrations were held at Glastonbury's Red Brick Building, a community arts hub that has injected new energy into what was a sadly neglected and derelict area of the town. I must say how invigorating it is to see a building being claimed and used by it's community.
This is the first time that SAW has held a launch party of this style. It was felt that the Open Studios event warranted a more relaxed informal affair that reflected it's members, and everyone who attended seemed to thoroughly enjoy and enter into the spirit of the evening.
It offered artists from across the region not only a chance to relax amidst their preparations before opening their doors this Saturday, but also to meet with one another; it is often the case during Art Weeks that if you are participating it is very difficult to leave your venue to see any of the other diverse events that are taking place. The artists also got to talk with members of the Friends of SAW and SAW's valued sponsors, amongst them Bruton School for Girls and Somerset College of Arts and Technology.
The evening was organised by SAW's Festival manager Zoe Li and the team at the Red Brick Building. Richard Pomeroy welcomed guests and reminded us that this year's festival was about visiting artists in their studios, seeing their work in the environs where it was created, away from the anticipated white of gallery walls, to see it in a living space, and what a privilege it is to be allowed into such a personal creative hub.
Tom Clark, a patron of the Red Brick Building had organised an emotional performance of Caryl Churchill's ten minute play, Seven Jewish Children - A Play For Gaza. This may seem a sobering act to choose for a celebration but it served as a poignant reminder that although we may be in a room full of artists we do have our feet planted in reality and we are not all lost in a world of whimsy and oil paint. SAW sees itself as an arts platform, providing support and collaboration to all aspects of the artistic community within Somerset. When the performance had come to a close, a collection was made in respect of the author's wishes, Caryl Churchill has stated that anyone wishing to produce it may do so gratis, so long as they hold a collection for the people of Gaza.
It was then Hacker Farm's turn to swing the atmosphere in the room back to party mode. Their performance of electronic sound built gently above the hubbub of conversation until the sound encompassed the whole room and their set was well received.
All in all the evening was a great success and we would like to thank all those that joined SAW in celebrating the county's largest arts festival.
The artists' studio doors open from 11am this Saturday until Sunday 5th October. There are 205 venues to choose from showing a huge variety of work. The Art Weeks guide has all the information you need to gain the most from this year's Open Studios. Do check with each venue for their individual opening times.
I hope you enjoy discovering the artists that live and work in Somerset, who contribute to making it the vibrant county that it is. Do support them, visit their venues, perhaps even buy some work to take home.
If you wish to receive up to date details about all the events as they are happening during this year's open studios you can sign up to receive regular posts from the SAW Blog by registering your details where it says FOLLOW BY EMAIL to the top right of this page.
You can also find us on Twitter at @SAW_Ltd and @ArtWeeks14