East Street Arts opened ten venues across Leeds recently to offer an insight into artists’ workspaces. Spanning over the week it included workshops, tours, small performances, and individual exhibitions before culminating in the final weekend where all venues were open to the public.
The experience of seeing where artists worked and understanding the practice was far more inspiring than any white-walled gallery. Each studio space was crammed with materials, finished and unfinished ideas, and the person themselves sitting there making their craft. Instead of walking through a gallery of works that the curator wants you to see, this was a tour of people’s minds and the explosion of creativity.
The enjoyment of this exhibition was that it offered an insight to talk to current artists about the meaning of their artworks, and the logistics of their practices including how to make a part-time living from it. It’s a strange and interesting feeling, leaving a venue that shows the world behind the artwork; it’s a world we all know exists but we so infrequently experience it.
Though small scale, the Open Studio event holds promise for expansion with it’s growing collective and interest in artists. Leeds is such a vibrant artistic city, and it’s an excellent opportunity for artists all over the region to have something like this to demonstrate the opportunities that are out there are out there for fine artists. Whether an artist yourself, or merely one who appreciates its forms, this exhibition of sorts really showcased the wonders of the creative practice for all to value. For a free, inspiring, and different way of presenting art, it was about time we promoted the work on the other side of the white wall.