From ceramics, glass and wood to paintings, jewellery and photographs, there’s something for everyone as Dorset’s artists get ready to showcase their talents in Dorset Art Weeks 28 May – 12 June
For a two-week period in the summer, artists and designers across the county open their doors to visitors and offer a unique opportunity to meet local artists, view their work, participate in workshops or even take a work of art home with you direct from the artist.
The open studios and exhibitions will take you to places and far and wide, from studios in the artist’s own home to professional galleries and pop-up exhibitions. With 300 venues to choose from – the majority of them are free to visit – you may not have to travel far.
For Dorset residents, the locations will take you to undiscovered corners of the county to unusual and spectacular locations, which this year include an 18th Century flour mill, a converted church in Sherborne and a patisserie in Beaminster!
Now in its 26th year, Dorset Art Weeks hopes to top the 40,000 visitors recorded last year. The event draws crowds from outside the county and visitors chalk up several host venues during the two-week period. Hall & Woodhouse, sponsors of the event together with Humphries Kirk, even offer a free drink when ordering a meal for those who collect three artists signatures during Dorset Art Weeks.
Dorset Visual Arts, a charity and host organisation, is the driver behind Dorset Art Weeks. With 1,000 artists and designers taking part this year, Dorset Art Weeks has come a long way since its first event in 1990 with founding artists totalling just 20.
What’s on for families?
The two-week long event bridges the half-term holiday and there is a surprising number of activities and events to entertain your family. The Walled Garden Moreton is host to a family workshop on 1 June where you can craft your own sculptures or lanterns from willow and paper (costs £10 per family, booking advised).
The beautiful 3-acre gardens are open daily 10am-5.30pm and during half term (28 May – 4 June) the gardens will open late for wood fired pizza. Visitors during this week will also get to see artist Isla Chaney in action as she creates a sculpture on site.
This year, the founding artist of Dorset Art Weeks and internationally renowned furniture maker John Makepeace is hosting a charity open studio in aid of Dorset Visual Arts on 5 June.
John’s historic house in Beaminster displays many examples of his furniture while the family’s vast gardens showcase sculpture and topiary. Bring along your drawing materials and use the grounds as inspiration. Drawings will be displayed on Dorset Visual Arts website!
Why not visit the Dorset Centre for the Creative Arts?
For those interested in learning new skills or refining artistic talents, Dorset Centre for the Creative Arts in Poundbury is holding taster sessions, demonstrations and exhibitions across a range of its courses; from bronze casting and stone carving to photography and screen writing.
Get to know local artists
The main idea behind the event is the many and varied local artists that open their studios for the event. Most of these venues are free and with the artists in residence to discuss their work and ideas.
Jem Main, director for Dorset Art Weeks, says: “The key attraction has always been the opportunity to meet and engage with artists, designers and makers in their studios and workshops to find out how ideas, materials, processes and techniques come together whilst simultaneously exploring or revisiting this extraordinary county of ours.”
Pick up a copy of the brochure listing, which in itself is something of a work of art, at local libraries and Tourist Information Centres, view the directory or simply look out for the yellow and red Dorset Art Weeks venue signs near you!