The open studio exhibition was a great success, at least from my perspective. Over one hundred people called in to my humble studio to browse my artwork. Not bad, considering the Castlemaine State Festival program gave very little assistance or direction for folk coming to the smaller town of Maldon, even though there were several Maldonites participating.
Okay, so I certainly didn’t make a fortune from my artwork, but I didn’t expect to. Generally, in this region, art sales are down.
For me, the highlights of the ten days were fascinating conversations with other artists and printmakers, as well as art appreciators; meeting more local people than I’ve met in ages – artists by nature are solitary folk; the learning curve of the whole open studio event; and, facing the fear of putting my heart and soul, aka my work, out there for public scrutiny and dissection.
Positive comments far outweighed the disappointment caused by the few visitors who breezed in the door and out again, barely taking time to look around. My theme was very specific – preserving the past and present, real and imagined – so it probably wasn’t their cup of tea.
Speaking of which, the purchase of an urn for hot tea and coffee was an expense I needn’t have bothered with. For the use it got, I could have left it in the box, in the shop. Apart from me, only one visitor availed himself of the hot refreshments, or any refreshment at all. Even the lolly dish is still more than half full. Perhaps folk are more conscious of their weight or cavities, or maybe they were already lollied-out by the time they ventured this way. It’s not important, with seven grandchildren, my abundance of sweeties will soon peter out to nothing. And I’m sure the urn will come in handy at family gatherings. Alternately, I could make it a permanent fixture in the studio…
I worked while open for visitors. Kids and adults alike were enthralled with the printmaking process, which was an added bonus. My initial nerves over ‘performing in public’ evaporated with the answering of questions and sharing my passion for prints.
At first I was mystified by comments about how ‘inspiring’ I am. On reflection, I realise that anyone who is passionate about what they do, and shares that passion with others, can be inspiring. No matter what the topic, the feelings in the heart are expressed in the enthusiasm – or obsession, in my case!
‘The Coffee House’ assemblage proved a regular conversation starter. Several visitors shared my fascination with erotic ladies of the past. There were also many conversations about family history, and what has been lost, and sometimes gained, instigated by my altered books.
All in all, the open studio was a fun thing to do. It was tiring and I’m not sure I’d cope with being open for business every day, but I will make a habit of it.