Helfa Gelf: Open Studios Art Trail

A diverse and talented group of artists based in Llandudno are preparing to throw open their doors to the public and invite visitors into the secret world of their art studio. They exhibit as part of Helf Gelf/Art Trail, North Wales’s largest open studios project.  A range of artists and craft makers will be allowing visitors to see where they work and how they work, over the Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout September.

The six artists, based at ‘c.a.s.c artist studios and project space‘ on Garage Street behind MOSTYN Gallery, are a fantastic example of the diverse range of artists taking part in Helfa Gelf this year.  The ‘c.a.s.c’ collective has been going since 2009, when it first came to the public’s attention in its original location in Llandudno, they moved to their current studio – complete with a project/exhibition space in 2011 and have continued to thrive,  It has included a variety of artists over the years , all with a shared interest in contemporary art and crafts.

“Working at the ‘c.a.s.c’ studios has allowed us the opportunity to network with other like-minded artists and to seek peer group support. It is surprising how many artists live and work in North Wales and how much talent there is.,” says Wendy Couling mixed media artist and one of the founder members of ‘c.a.s.c’

“This is the third year I have taken part in Helfa Gelf and it has been a really rewarding experience for me. I exhibited as part of a different studio last year and we did well with sales, which is an added incentive!” said Barry Morris, a figurative painter.

“It is good to meet people who are interested in art and get feedback about your work. It is also interesting when you have people visit you every year, who can then comment on how your work has developed.”

All six artists will open their workshop spaces to visitors during the Helfa Gelf event in September. They will exhibit paintings, ceramics, sculpture, mixed media work and present installation pieces, the other members include Antonia Dewhurst, who this summer completed a successful exhibition and installation at Oriel Davies (New Town), Gerallt Hughes an illustrator, Jane Tudor who works in mixed media and sculptural ceramicist Wendy Dykes.

The local artists in the area are in the Conwy Coastal Cluster part of the Helfa Gelf /Art Trail.

Artists who open their studios share the inner workings of their creative world. Studios in the Conwy coastal Cluster  are hugely diverse and interesting, with over 22 artists all living and working in a 17 mile radius of each other. A full range of art forms is available to visitors including: contemporary wood work, ceramics, drawing, felting, jewellery making, painting, photography, printmaking, textiles, sculpture, fractual art and  illustration. In total there are over 300 artists across Gwynedd, Conwy, Flintshire, Denbighshire and Wrexham opening their studios to allow visitors to experience their creative processes.

A Helfa Gelf Art Trail guide book is widely available from local libraries, schools, tourist information centres, hotels, shops, galleries and Helfa Gelf Information Points. To help to plan your free artistic adventure, ‘The Art Trail Map’, an online interactive guide, is available at www.helfagelf.co.uk. This includes information on studio locations, artist profiles, a gallery of images, directions to the studios, satellite map, access information and opening times. It also contains information about free drop-in workshops and free community bus-tours run during the event.

Sabine Cockrill, project coordinator for Helfa Gelf says:

““The range of art is very diverse. It is exciting to start on the Art Trail and be recommended other artists to go and see and spend an interesting day exploring creative spaces.. You never know where the Trail might lead you. ‘c.a.s.c’ is a fantastic example of a group studio, where are you are able to see very different types of artworks.  The studios are in all sorts of locations from beautiful rural cottages, to garden sheds, to purpose built spaces in towns and villages.”

The  ‘c.a.s.c’ studio has been divided into different working spaces for each artist. As you move through the building, you can see how the artists have renovated the interior to meet their needs. Some areas have bright white boards, easels and workbenches, and all the artists have adapted the flooring, lighting and storage to enable them to work in their different materials and artistic media.

Barry Morris, whose work includes skull linocut print bunting and painted dolls, adds:” It really motivates you when you know other artists, curators , buyers, visitors and members of the community will be looking at your work. “

Pick up a booklet locally or use ‘The Art Trail Map’ online at www.helfagelf.co.uk. The HelfaGelfArtTrail project has received funding through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007–2013, which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

South East Open Studios – 1st to 17th June 2012

Open studio events have flourished in recent years and can be found in many regions across the UK. Participating artists open their studios to the public at certain times of the year, exhibiting their work and often their creative processes. Visitors enjoy the opportunity to meet the artists and glean something of the artist’s passion and dedication.They can also take part in workshops, view demonstrations, commission a piece of work, buy work on display or simply have a chat with the artist.

Open studio events provide an informal network for artists and are a great opportunity for member artists to meet like-minded people and showcase their work to a wider audience. SEOS (South East Open Studios) is one of the oldest and largest open studio events and encompasses the whole of Kent and the East Sussex borders. Numbers of participating artists continue to rise and now typically reach around 300. Membership is open to all visual artists and crafts-people in the region and includes many disciplines such as painting, print-making, ceramics, textiles, photography, illustration, jewellery-making and sculpture.

There is an annual fee to join but members benefit from group publicity throughout the year and are advertised on the group website and in the annual full-colour printed guide available in libraries, tourist information centres and art galleries throughout the region.There is also help and advice on hand regarding marketing and how to make the most of membership. Other benefits to artists include regular newsletters, information on opportunities/special events, and access to group public liability insurance.

As well as being a platform for regular members to connect with an established audience these events are often an ideal starting point for new artists looking to lay good foundations for their burgeoning careers.

For more information on SEOS please visit http://www.seos-art.org.

Image is of Dani Humberston 

Area – South East