Crowborough Open Studios, 2nd-3rd September 2017

Crowborough Open Studios, 2nd-3rd September 2017

The artists of Crowborough are busily preparing to welcome the public to their working studios and exhibitors’ houses, for the town’s fourth Open Studios event. Forty artists, both amateur and professional, will be showing their work in nineteen venues organised around five hubs throughout Crowborough and Jarvis Brook during the weekend of 2-3 September. From 10am to 5pm, there will be opportunities to admire the creativity of painters, jewellers, ceramicists, photographers and textile artists, and the chance to buy individually-designed and handcrafted items to suit all styles and purses.

Exhibitors this year come from a wide range of artistic backgrounds, amateur and professional. Crowborough Open Studios is run by Crowborough Arts, a loose grouping of creative local people, established by Susanna Petszaft and Angela Quinn. The group’s philosophy is that art should be available to all, and to encourage all local people to develop their artistic skills. Susanna and Angela’s work reflects this approach: Susanna experiments in ceramics, collage, paint and drawing, and will be exhibiting mixed media works and outsize, exuberant necklaces, while retired opera singer Angela will be exhibiting translucent screens and glamorous upcycled jackets.

Mary Harris, exhibiting with Angela in the Green Lane studio, makes watercolours and woodcut prints: ‘I have a huge enthusiasm for painting watercolours outdoors so when Penshurst opened their doors to Crowborough Arts this was a great opportunity. Faces and personalities in particular fascinate me, so I draw a lot in charcoal and pencil, attempting precision yet also trying to create an impression of the character. I am also attracted to ancient trees, shaped by circumstances yet surviving. Sometimes I use woodcuts to portray the trees; it seems right to use wood to do this. The photos are of me doing reprints of a Woodcut- ‘Hartland Quay’ a double print, firstly in sea-blues, then overprinted in black, and finally the new print coming off the Press, in my Studio.’

Prize-winning illustrator of children’s books and 1960s Penguin classics, Justin Todd, and his painter wife Barbara, who taught art for 38 years, are prime examples of artists whose creativity blossoms in retirement. They met while training at art school in Wimbledon, and Barbara says: ‘I’ve only really had time for serious painting since I retired. I paint upstairs in the attic, while Justin works downstairs. It’s a magical thing.’

As well as Open Studios, the group has an annual Christmas art exhibition at Penshurst Place, and runs regular workshops for life and portrait drawing, alongside theatrical and musical events and reading groups.

For further information about Open Studios, and a map showing both artists and venues, visit the website at