Reflections on the Open Studio

gravel garden

We’ve just completed a nine day period of “Open Studio” as part of the Towy Valley Open Studios. As new members of the group we didn’t know what to expect or whether we’d do it again next year.

A London craft fair we did years ago carried the by-line “Find it. Love it. Buy it.” I thought that summed up pretty well the thrill of buying; the consumer addiction which we’re all touched by. And as an exhibiter, the perception of success or failure can sometimes be reduced to a single figure of total sales.

All the public events we do are a series of meetings, conversations, impressions etc. which can’t be quantified and I felt that particularly strongly during the Open Studios. I asked lots of our visitor about their experiences at other studios and realised it was still about “Find it. Love it, perhaps buy it, but “it” was also many things that money can’t buy.

The first “it” to find was the studio; providing an opportunity for a treasure hunt following numbered yellow arrows around our picturesque countryside – an excuse to explore narrow lanes and private tracks. I heard of a studio in the most amazing setting with stunning views; I heard of a maker who is “a total Sweetie”. Many of our visitors delighted me with compliments for our garden; many watched James throwing and learned about our making processes; some felt warm pots as we unpacked a kiln. We met new neighbours and potential friends. People came for many different reasons and it was lovely to meet all of them.

If you’re one of them, thank you (and I think we will do it again next year).



7 thoughts on “Reflections on the Open Studio”

  1. Pingback: Open Studio - james & tilla waters

  2. Ruth Addinall

    Dear James and Tilla
    I just thought I’d write to encourage you to do your Open Studio again as I am in a similar position up in Edinburgh.
    I opened my studio/house 5 times during last year’s Festival and 2 people came! They didn’t purchase anything …
    I felt pretty low about the experience and didn’t think I’d do it again but decided in the end that I would because I thought that in the end it’s a long-term project and is my gift to be offered to the world. It feels a bit like the quotation from Gray’s Elegy:
    ‘Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
    And waste its sweetness on the desert air’
    but maybe that is our lot.
    I’m sure you will grow a presence by being there regularly. I would certainly come just from seeing the beautiful photo of the house and garden, if I were a little closer!
    All the very best anyway.

    1. Tilla Waters Post Author

      Dear Ruth,
      Thank you for your comment and encouragement… there were days when I too was disappointed by lack of visitors but overall I was heartened by people who’d made an effort to get here and were really enthusiastic. The effort and expense for us were nothing compared to doing a London fair and although we were happy with our sales we thought that it was really about much more than money – which is probably always the case but we were more conscious of it somehow here. I would say it’s got to be worth doing an open studio, even if it’s not always immediately obvious why.
      As for the garden…it’s amazing what a bit of blue sky and sunshine can do!
      Good luck if you do decide to do it again and best wishes,

  3. Jane Shaw

    Dear James and Tilla
    We were so sorry not to make your open studio: we only learnt about the whole scheme through Tim, who was cycling around during his stay over here from Singapore (with Ruthie and the boys, of course!): if time had permitted, it would have been lovely to have explored and found the destinations to which all the yellow signs pointed………… it was, their time over here positively flew by, and with a 2 year old and a five year old, the days were full without little time to reflect – so by the time they were in bed, we were deliciously exhausted!!!!
    Anyway, so glad it was a positive first experience for you and we shall hope to be more active participants next year.
    Hoping you and the girls are enjoying this summer of ours, despite the vagaries of the weather and its unpredictable predictions
    Love to you all
    Jane and Bryan

    1. Tilla Waters Post Author

      Dear Jane and Bryan,
      Thank you for your lovely comment.
      Your time with Ruthie, Tim and co. must have been so precious and fleeting and I remember how exhausting small children are very clearly.
      Next year I’ll give you a brochure and I’m sure you’ll be tempted to go exploring, find lots of nice interesting people and places!
      Love to you all,

  4. Lisa

    Thank you for opening up your lovely studio, it was a treat and so are your cups…we love them. Glad you’ll do it again next year!

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