Artists’ Open Houses in East Kent is a brilliant initiative set up 17 years ago to showcase artists’ work in their own studios. It is a much more intimate way of engaging with a painter, craftsmen or photographer, seeing their work in the environment it was created in as opposed to a commercial gallery.
In conjunction with The Canterbury Festival, more than 75 studios will be open this weekend and the following two weekends all over East Kent (Canterbury, Deal, Herne Bay, Margate, Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Whitstable) including 12 venues in and around Faversham.
Some of the Faversham highlights will include the opportunity to visit Lucy Rutter whose ceramics featured earlier this year in Faversham Life, and Guy Rutter who is showing his paintings and prints, at their studio in St John’s Road.
Up in Oare, Nick Stewart, who works as Mudlark Furniture, creates unique pieces of furniture, sculptures and carvings from driftwood washed up in the marshes and creeks around Faversham and Oare.
It is a chance to visit the restored Purifier Building where you can see, among others, the mixed media work of Faversham artist Siobhán Timoney.
You will also find prints of ‘hybrid female identities emanating from obscure biological forms’ by Beverley Paton, textiles, ceramics and metalwork by the Dickinsons in Newnham, work ‘capturing moments in time’ by Griselda Mussett in Abbey Street, and much more.
Faversham Life visited Mary Hyde on Love Lane as she prepared for the opening this weekend. A Faversham resident of some 28 years, Mary’s sense of humour abounds: from her ‘Shedio’ (made from two sheds her carpenter husband, Buster, joined together) to the whimsical statue of a pig standing in a flowerbed, to the Sodham Arms pub. Visit and all will become clear.
As I stepped into the Shedio my eye was immediately drawn to the wall of diminutive oil paintings of local landscapes near Faversham. She rejoices in capturing unpopulated landscapes with big skies, often in brooding palettes of dark blues. She paints beguiling portraits of dogs as well as quirky studies of clothes, still lifes and boats.
Self-taught, Mary was born in Margate and on leaving school worked for 18 years in a local art shop which was also a picture restorers and framers. ‘I picked up numerous tips from customers such as always paint on a red ground which I think gives my pictures a sparkle and a certain luminosity.’
She has exhibited at the Mall Galleries in the Royal Society of British Artists Exhibition.
Mary likes to paint still lifes, saying: ‘They do as they are told and don’t move around.’ Although she didn’t go to art college, she reminisces about her art lessons at school. ‘We learnt perspective for six weeks,’ she says and laments the lost art of ‘proper’ teaching. ‘It’s all about celebrities these days like Tracey Emin.’
A warm personality, Mary is true to her staunch views. For example, as a vegetarian she will not buy sable paint brushes. ‘Synthetic is fine for me’. A member of Greenpeace, she is a committed campaigner against the transport of live animals and is often be found demonstrating in Ramsgate, placard in hand regardless of the time of day or night. Indeed, that is how she first met Buster on a demonstration in the middle of the night. They were protesting about a monkey farm in Sussex which bred monkeys for experiments. So much for Jamie Oliver, Mary was demonstrating against battery chickens way back in the ’80s.
The studios are open 11am-5pm on the weekends of 14-15 October, 21-22 October, 28-29 October.
Text: Amicia. Photos: Lisa and featured artists