A fantastic time was had by all who attended another successful Autumn Open Studios at The Farmhouse, the Digswell Arts studio based in Stevenage, over the weekend of the 17th and 18th October 2015. The Open Studio event was another ideal opportunity for the public to explore the house and grounds and to experience the contemporary art, craft and design that was on display.
On the ground floor, off the main kitchen space, were the subtly symbolic narrative oil paintings by Anton Psak which created a sensory driven experience. Hidden away in the recesses of the original fireplace were the quiet and beautiful hand felted cylinder objects by Miriam Fraser, illuminated by a flickering light and casting shadows on the white washed walls.
The major draw on the ground floor was the atmospheric and immersive installation by Tina Reid. Behind the ripped canvas veil was a room that felt like you were stepping into a tomb; striking mythological inspired paintings and objects could be just about seen in the dim candle light. In dramatic contrast to this was the vibrant studio of Allistair Covell who’s abstract paintings and wool rugs adorned the walls and floor, perfect vehicles to showcase his natural flair for colour. In the hallway hung Karen Picton’s impressive abstract composition; a collection of paintings depicting the landscape of the earth and of the mind, painted using one of the oldest materials known to man: mud.
In the servants kitchen at the back of the farmhouse is the shared studio space of Faye Munroe and Miche Follano, both ceramists who are exploring the medium of clay in different ways. Faye’s work is very architectural in style and is exploring the shapes and colours found in the urban landscape while Miche’s work is concerned with the surface decoration of her ceramic forms, creating an imaginative narrative.
On the first floor was another interactive installation with Miriam’s studio plunged into darkness, creating a false camera obscure experience. Called Mindfulness, the concept was to encourage people to pause and consider their thoughts and feelings within the Farmhouse. Breaking the silence was the recording of her poem “Yew”.
Down the hall was Barbara Panico’s studio where she showcased art objects and paintings, exploring form, space and the perception of Physiology, primarily centred on the theory of how things are seen and how this effects the brain. Next door Holly Wisker showed visitors her small scale painted studies which are responses to her immediate and intimate surroundings. The autobiographical element present in her work becomes obscured through re-presentation, allowing for new fictions and narrative threads to unfold. Opposite Holly’s studio is the thriving workspace of Ben Evenett, a multidisciplinary artist whose work covers ceramics, printmaking, painting and video art. Ben draws his inspiration from popular culture as well as attempting to create a feeling of nostalgia within his work.
In the old stables of the Farmhouse lies Patrick Joyce’s studio, another ceramist and a potter who uses a variety of firing methods including gas, electric and sawdust, to create his hand built and thrown forms. It is the unique finishes that are created during the raku firing process that Patrick is experimenting with and he is currently exploring the effects of burnishing, resist and smoke firing and the alchemy of different glazes.
The Fellows at the Farmhouse would like to extend a special thank you to all who attended, from those who lived locally and to those who travelled from far and wide to catch the artists at work in their studios. For those who were unable to make it fear not for there will be more events coming up in 2016. For updates regarding the Farmhouse and the artists many endeavours please follow the Digswell website.