Shrewsbury’s Darwin Shopping Centre promotes local open studios art event

SHREWSBURY’S Darwin Shopping Centre is again acting as an art gallery to promote local artists.

The centre has made a shop available as a “taster” to display the work of 33 artists based in and around Shrewsbury who will open their studios to the public for four days next month (July).

Shrewsbury Open Studios 2013 takes place over the first two weekends in July the  6th and 7th, and the 13th and 14th, with most artists opening their studios, workshops or homes to welcome the public between 11am and 5pm each day.

Photographer Dave West from Gorse Lane, Bayston Hill, is coordinator. He said: “We have been organising open studio events like this since 2000 and they have been very successful.

“This is the first time we have been able to use a shop in the Darwin as a launch pad because they are not normally available. The shop window is a really good taster for what you can see at the various studios.”

Kevin Lockwood, Manager of the Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside Shopping Centres, said: “There is a very strong artistic community here in Shrewsbury and here at the shopping centres we are doing our bit to reflect that.

“We believe it is a way we can play our part in the life of the town and the area and it also helps make a visit to the shopping centres even more of an experience and help bring the artists’ work to an even wider audience.”

It was April when the Darwin came to the aid of local artists allowed a pop-up art exhibition in a shop unit by the Art International Group of its Art Without Borders exhibition.

Dave West said: “The Open Studios provides a real focus for people to visit. From my point of view as a photographer it is a really good way of interacting with the public.

“When you do an exhibition you normally set it up, provide a viewing and then run away. With the open studio you can engage with people about your work in person.

“Sales-wise it’s pretty good too because there has been a bit of a tail-off in the last year with people spending less. Being able to use a shop in a place like the Darwin is very good for us because of the significant footfall – normally most artists could never hope to have their work showing in such a busy place.

“There’s a lot of talented people in the Shrewsbury area but with less public spending artists have to do more to help promote themselves.”

Dave, who has been a photographer for 30 years used to work as a freelance in Hereford, where he set up the Hereford Photographic Festival in 1986 which ran for 25 years.

He said: “I am fascinated by photography’s capacity to record, celebrate, distort or disguise, through poetry and science. Documentary experience has led me to work in themes and create narratives. Painting and literature have informed my use of lyrical composition.

“For Open Studios 2013 I am showing a new series of photos called “Hole in the Ground”. This is the fifth part of my “Battlefields” project, which looks at landscape and land usage, starting from the site of the Battle of Shrewsbury (1403).

“There will also be a diverse selection of new and previous work on view and for sale, plus examples of recent book projects.”

Opening dates and times may vary between artists. Check out the individual artists for details of their work, their location, and the days and times they will be open for you to visit them without prior appointment by visiting

The scheme offers visitors the chance to see 33 artists at work, discuss their techniques and find out about the inspiration behind their work, which will also be available to purchase.

There will be a number of demonstrations taking place at several locations over the two weekends including using a pole lathe, brick clay carving, printmaking, weaving, enamelling, illustration and painting.

A printed leaflet with map showing studio locations and demonstrations is available from Shrewsbury Tourist Information Centre at Rowley’s House and Shirehall.

Dave is helped by a small committee of fellow artists Jill Leventon, Tony Clarkson, Jacqui Dodds and Jenna Kumiega.

The group collates information about participating artists, their work, and their venues, and gets the information to as many people as possible including those living and working in Shrewsbury, and visitors to the area.

Artists taking part are Caroline Taylor printmaking, Mairi Turner photography,  Dea Paradisos painting and printmaking, Christine Bradshaw printmaking, Rod Shaw painting; Irene Pentelow jewellery, Sara Mai upcycling, Nathalie Hildegarde Liege fine artist and glass, Vicki Heath painting, Laura Cadman textiles, Jacqui Dodds painting and printmaking, Helen Romberg painting, Maureen Carswell enamelling on copper, Louise Diggle painting, Roger Keeling drawing and painting, R&A Collaborations film makers, Parker and Arrol textiles, Jill Leventon enamelling on copper, Carol Davies illustration and animation, Helen Foot design textiles, Michael Priest fine artist, Dave West photography, Sue Challis collage, film makers and installations, Beverley Fry fine artist, painting, Pat Jones drawing, illustration and painting, papier maché, and photography, Ruth Gibson ceramics, jewellery and sculpture, Judi Willerton mixed media, painting and pastels, Angie Pyatt miniatures, photography and wildlife artist, Heather Prescott bookmaker, printmaking, and watercolours, Spencer Edwards furniture and woodworking courses bespoke furniture maker, and Russell Parry sketchbook and journal maker.

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