Adrian Holt makes and exhibits an eclectic range of hand-built ceramics in his studio in Glossop. A Derbyshire Open Arts (DOA) member since 2008, he is one of 18 artists from the town who signed up for the 2012 event. Rosie Gilligan, DOA Secretary, interviews Adrian to find out how he makes a living from his ceramic work.
After a spell teaching full-time, Adrian decided to take a career break. He spent time in Brazil, then returned to the UK, where he combined training in ceramics with earning a living from part-time teaching. Two years ago he took severance pay from his teaching post and decided to build a business combining selling, exhibiting and teaching ceramics.
‘I’m doing okay,’ he says, ‘but most of my income still comes from school projects, half-term classes and adult classes, so I have to balance up the time I spend promoting and marketing what I do on the one hand, with making a living on the other.’
Though busy, Adrian has made the time to join the small voluntary committee who organise the DOA event every Spring Bank Holiday. ‘As a practising artist, I get to have my say, and I now have a much better understanding of what it takes to run this brilliant event.’
What advice does an experienced hand like Adrian have for artists who are selling their work for the first time? ‘I’d say, first of all, read the Artists’ Guide you will receive when you sign up. Next, plan your event carefully and think hard about how visitors will be attracted to your venue. If you want to be an individual artist and just do your own thing, then do it. However, here in Glossop we prefer to work together, even if we exhibit individually. We feel that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts; everyone benefits from the work individuals contribute, but artists who want to join us need to be clear about the commitment they can make to the group as a whole.’
There isn’t an ideal place in Derbyshire for artists to exhibit and Glossop has its share of disadvantages, being situated in the top north-western arm of the county. So how did Adrian and the Glossop artists plan their marketing campaign for the 2012 DOA event in June?
‘We looked at what we do have – a critical mass of talented artists, another big cluster of artists nearby at New Mills, and Manchester situated just to the west. We decided we needed an information hub, and found a pub on the High Street run by a couple of supportive guys. We hung a banner there and had a stand inside manned by volunteers who gave out information and brochures. A map, showing where all the artists were on the ‘Glossop Trail’, was pinned up on the wall. Local businesses sponsored a competition and a prize draw for children.
‘In addition to all this, artists had their own allocation of brochures, directional signs and posters, and were asked to distribute them to shops and other premises in the town. Brochures were placed at Glossop station, and we also benefitted from the publicity the DOA committee organised in the Manchester area.’
Was the event a success? ‘It was,’ he admits, ‘though it was a first attempt at a joint venture and not everything we did worked well. Still, that’s what happens when you do something new. Next year we shall make it better,’ he adds. And building on their success, the Glossop artists will be launching the first Glossop Art Trail at the end of November. ‘I’m optimistic that if everyone works as a team, we can build on the experience we gained from this year’s DOA event,’ Adrian concludes.
Landscape artist Colin Halliday has signed up with Derbyshire Open Arts for the second year running. Though a relative newcomer to our Spring Bank Holiday event, he has been working professionally for 28 years, enjoying success in numerous exhibitions, both in London and across the UK. Not all artists decide to exhibit their work as solo artists in their own studio, but this arrangement worked well for Colin last year. He moved to the area in 2005 and is currently focussing on Derbyshire landscapes. Visitors will again be invited to see his atmospheric oils and acrylics at his garden studio in the village of Duffield, just north of Derby.
Why does he like the Derbyshire Open Arts event? ‘Lots of reasons,’ he says. ‘The £60 joining fee compares very well with the cost of entering other events, and the allocation of promotional material is very generous. The brochure is well produced, looks really good, and it’s distributed very widely. The open arts idea means I can exhibit from my own venue and not pay gallery fees and finally, my landscape work sells well at this type of event to visitors who love the local countryside.’
The poor weather during 2012 – plus the ‘Jubilee effect’ – don’t appear to have had an adverse effect on Colin’s enthusiasm for and optimism about this year’s event. Last year was something of a speculative venture: he had no idea whether visitors would come, especially as he is a little remote from Derbyshire’s main tourist hotspots. In fact, he received over 100 visitors and sold £4,000 of work. How does he account for his success? ‘Having worked at a professional level for so many years, I’m reasonably well known. I’ve gradually built up a list of people I can contact who have previously bought my work, so I sent the brochures I was given to them, and hoped to attract some visitors from the 30,000+ brochures circulated by others. As a rule, I don’t over-price my work and prefer to offer a body of work at a range of prices. Also, I make a point of speaking to everyone who comes; they can see my work in its proper environment, and I can answer questions and get to know them. People I meet over the weekend will return later if they are interested, especially if they have kept the brochure on their shelves.’
What advice would he offer to other artists who are just starting out, or who are new to Derbyshire Open Arts? ‘Plan how you can use the brochures, posters, balloons and directional signs provided to promote your exhibition, but don’t expect overnight success – it might take some time to build up a loyal following. As a final thought he adds: ‘though that should never be the driving force for artists doing work in the first place, it’s a happy by-product if you’re producing something that people want to buy!’.
2013 will be the 8th successive year that Derbyshire Open Arts will be offering its county-wide art event over Spring Bank Holiday weekend – Saturday 25th to Monday 27th May. Since its inception in 2006, the event has grown year-on-year. In 2012, 275 artists and craftspeople welcomed over 17,000 visitors at 95 venues. For the second year running, the joining fee has been held at £60 for an individual artist, with reductions on a sliding scale for artists who wish to exhibit as a group. Artists who sign up will receive copies of the Derbyshire Open Arts brochures, plus other publicity material on request, such as A3 posters, A4 directional signs, and balloons. This year the application process has been simplified, with the introduction of an online application form. The closing date for applications is January 18th 2013.
Rosie Gilligan interviews Chesterfield-based textile artist Anne Menary about her long association with Derbyshire Open Arts. ‘At one time there were no county-wide events, and few galleries where I could show my work,’ Anne recalls. ‘Derbyshire Open Arts changed all that.’
In Spring Bank Holiday – the first year the event was held – Anne’s playful and quirky hand-stitched/collaged pictures and fabric postcards were on show at Eyam Hall Craft Centre. At that time she exhibited as an individual artist. In 2013, and for the third year in succession, Anne will be with fellow ‘Alive and Stitching’ artists, exhibiting their contemporary textile art at The Art Room, Barlow.
For Anne, being a Derbyshire Open Arts member has been a successful and enjoyable experience from the start. But what advice can she give to fellow artists about taking part? ‘There’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, no magic formula to guarantee success,’ she admits, ‘but the Derbyshire Open Arts event is definitely the best locally-based chance to showcase your work. I enjoy it because I can talk to visitors, and see how they react to my work. They can also sign up for my textile workshops – and perhaps I might even sell them some of my textile pieces!’
Typically, Anne is an artist who makes a living from a portfolio of skills. Trained in Fashion and Textiles at Birmingham Polytechnic, then Goldsmith’s, she admits that teaching creative textiles is where most of her income still comes from. ‘You can use the Derbyshire Open Arts weekend as a one-off opportunity, but I prefer to see it as an important date in the annual calendar of events. I also find attending craft fairs useful because I can try out ideas and see which ones sell, before doing planning what I want to put on show at Spring Bank Holiday weekend.’
Anne and the rest of ‘Alive and Stitching’ meet regularly to decide on the details of their exhibition. ‘We think carefully about how many brochures, posters, balloons and signs we need to order, and where to place them. We’re off the beaten track here in Barlow, so we have to sort out our own marketing and advertising; the committee who organise the event produce some great publicity materials, but at the end of the day it’s our show. We can’t rely on others to do all the work for us.᾿
‘The Derbyshire Open Arts event itself may only last one long weekend, but its effects can continue for some time,’ Anne concludes. ‘Many visitors keep the brochures and contact you later.’ And your details will remain afterwards, on the website.’
The Open Spaces project 2012 was supported by funding from Derbyshire Dales District Council. 11 contemporary Artists created and displayed work in 9 venues around Derbyshire as part of the open weekend. A big thank you to our funders for making this project possible.
Open Spaces is a new project displaying contemporary arts in unusual spaces all over Derbyshire. We have 10 sites in the event this year showing installations of site-specific work by leading local artists. The sites include Derby Cathedral, a pavillion, a viaduct, the Eco Centre, Willersley Castle, Bakewell Parish Church, Cromford Mill and Hartington Hall. The installations are created by contemporary visual artists allowing them to respond to the site and creating a living gallery space in the rural landscape. Look out for the special venues in the Derbyshire Open Arts Brochure 2012.
"Brilliant....enjoyable...people keep coming back to see and buy work...always inspiring.. long may it continue!" (Artist comment)
Another successful event took place on 28th-30th May 2011. The results of the independent evaluation report show that 242 artists took part at 88 venues countywide, representing a wide range of 2D and 3D art and craftwork. An estimated 17,500 visitors attended the event, a steady increase from 2010. Sales were an impressive increase from previous year᾿s events and have total estimate of £71,632 for 2011. Commissions and workshops were also reported to be some of the many spin-off advantages of taking part in the event. The Committee received excellent feedback from the Artists taking part and the visiting public.
A full report is available on request. Please contact email@example.com
Welcome to the launch of the new website for Derbyshire Open Arts. The new logo and website form an updated version of the event that was started in 2006. The open arts event embraces a new look and contemporary design to bring the organisation into another successful six years.
The new brochure for Derbyshire Open Arts 2011 is being released from the beginning of April 2011. Brochures are available to pick up from all Derbyshire Libraries and Tourist Information offices. Brochures will also be in Derby Arts promotion boxes throughout April and May or can be ordered from this website to arrive by post. Brochures are free and contain all the details for attending the event, including a map, contact details and images of the all the Artists involved.