Confident start to new era for Chichester Open Studios Art Trail

Chichester Open Studios 2024: Leo Stevenson is among the artistsChichester Open Studios 2024: Leo Stevenson is among the artists
Chichester Open Studios 2024: Leo Stevenson is among the artists
Chichester Open Studios Art Trail enters its second and final weekend on a high after a great response to its relaunch.

A new committee and new chairman Jazmine Saunders are masterminding operations for the trail which began in 2001 as Open Doors, Chichester Open Studios and has gone on to establish itself as a key event in the Chichester art calendar. It opened this year over May 18 and 19 and continues this weekend over May 25, 26 and 27 (Bank Holiday Monday). It includes the City, Eastward, Seaside, Peninsula, Harbour and Downs areas which can be explored individually or as a whole.

Jazmine is delighted with the response: “It feels exciting. It doesn't necessarily feel new but it certainly feels exciting and it feels fresh. It is different this year because of all the different elements that we have brought in especially bringing back the green colour to the signs that people know. We've given it a fresh approach and we have a number of different businesses supporting us. And we have done well with advertising this year.”

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There are 149 artists taking part, a very good number – and it would have been the round 150 that Jazmine wanted if she had been taking part herself: “But because of all the work and learning the ropes I wanted to be able to go around and visit people and check that everybody is happy and also just really to see the work myself. I'm going to be running this for the next however many years and I want the artists to know who I am so that they can easily approach me if there are any questions or problems. I just wanted to give it a fresh approach and I wanted to get to know the people taking part.

“We have our regulars who have been doing it since the beginning and before even the beginning of the beginning and they're still doing the trail now which is lovely but we've also got newcomers. Some of our newcomers are people that have just finished at the university. And we've got an animator this year which is new for us. It is just a nice way to bring new art to people.”

And the point is that the participating artists love doing it: “It has become part of their history now and part of what they do in Chichester. They find it extremely exciting to be part of it and they want to be part of it. A lot of them would not be able to show their work if they didn't because it's so difficult to get your work into galleries these days.

"We've asked our artists what role the art trail plays in their artistic journey and why they do it, and we've had some great answers. One artist said it was one of the main opportunities to show this year and a chance to meet people that have chosen to come and see your work… and also a good reason to give your studio good clear-out before people come in!

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“We have created a feedback and evaluation form for the artists so that they can let us know how they found it and that will give us any insight into things that we might need to improve if there are actually any things that we need to improve. The history is already there and the history is fantastic. I've taken on something that is already established and I want to carry on running it in the traditional way that has already worked.”

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