Wednesday 21 September 2022

Inside this year's Arches Open Studios // Southampton

This past weekend saw the return of Arches Open Studios - an annual weekend that allows the people of Southampton and further to discover a hive of creative and artistic activity. We stumbled upon it by chance last year so have been looking forward to attending this year's open weekend. 

You'll find Arches Studios below Central Bridge which is part of a space arts, a visual arts organisation established in 2000, that leads on a range of artist development projects, including the Arches and Tower House studios, God's House Tower, and the RIPE programme, along with delivering a bespoke range of Artist Resources.

They take an enterprising approach to delivering their mission of supporting visual artists and inspiring audiences and have grown incrementally and strategically over the years, developing a portfolio of projects that have culturally reanimated several Southampton buildings as well as becoming a registered charity and an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO).

There are twenty residents at Arches Studios including Emma Harris specialising in visual art, predominatley working with acrylics and mixed media collage, Marieta Sotirova is a plein air and studio painter inspired by changing light and Stewart Beckett known for using traditional methods in his painting such as oils. 

Both days of the weekend saw artist-led activities and workshops taking place as well as live music, the opportunity to wander around the studios at your own pace and local food trucks from Partners in Coffee and Mama's Kitchen

On both days you could knit a football scarf with Jilly Evans, watch a wood work demonstration with Tim Caves as he used a precision wood turning method to make woodwind instruments and witness Marieta Sotirova's live oil painting session - there was something for everyone to experience.

I sat and watched Neil Kelly demonstrate his pod painting technique which was fascinating - I really enjoyed watching him paint. 

While the artist-led activities were taking place, there was plenty of live music and entertainment from local musicians to enjoy too. 

The Bees Knees
Duo Su Eaton and Martin Bridle perform traditional folk with the distinctive hurdy-gurdy and bouzouki. 

Rose's Diary
Inspired by late 90's/eary 00s rock, Rose's Diary is an indie rock trio from Portsmouth who have recently been making a name for themselves in the Hampshire music scene.

Bringing you an elective mix of Eastern Europeon Klezmar and Celtic folk music inspired by Blowzabella, traditional oldies, plus one or two originals. 

5pm Pegasuses
Husband and wife folk duo Pegasuses performed their characteristic blend of darkly comic lyrics and soulful close-knit harmonies. 

As mentioned there was a delicious selection of food and drink available so you can tuck in at any time from one of the days vendors. Partners in Coffee is a collaboration with Suze, Alec and Irene serving speciality coffee and baked goods from their distinctive Piaggio van. 

Butcher's Hook, the first micro pub in the city were also there serving craft beer from around the UK. 

Lastly, Mama's Kitchen which I LOVED - they're a family run business specialising in traditional Thai and Chinese cuisine such as satay chicken, spring rolls and the most delicious pork dim sum. 

It's always such an enjoyable weekend with so much going on and it's perfect for all ages. We've taken the children both years now and will continue to do so. There is always such a sense of community, everyone is so friendly and happy to talk about their art and passion and of course, it's fascinating having an insight into the studios. 

Be sure to follow both Arches Studios and a space arts on Instagram where you can keep up to date with what's happening across each site and be in the know for when next year's dates are announced. 

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