Five steps to get the most out of a visit to Cambridge Open Studios

Very excited! While I have visited many artists in the past and have bought artworks, this is the first time I have participated in Cambridge Open Studios. As I write this I am busy varnishing pictures and transforming my home into an art gallery!

For those that have never come to Open Studios it’s really simple and a great day out. Here are my five hints to make the most of your day.

Step 1 Get hold of a copy of the guide or download the App and Plan!

Download the App There is a great video on how to use it on Youtube

Then use it to decide who to visit. You can’t do them all! Single artist or group show?

Which weekend? There are 4 to choose from. If you have fallen in love with the piece in the catalogue then go on the first day of the first weekend to avoid the disappointment of finding it sold. Just browsing? Then go when you like- artists don’t have lunchtime and that’s often a quiet time to visit.

Step 2 Set a budget

Empty walls ? COS can be a cost effective way of filling your walls and home with unique artwork instead of mass printed posters. Set a budget and stick to it. You’re buying direct from the artist with no middleman so your budget will go further and you may secure something lovely. Take cash for small purchases like cards. Many artists do take card payments but don’t rely on it. A banking app on your phone may be useful for rapid payment to secure that piece you have fallen in love with. There’s only one reason to buy art and that’s because you love it!

Step 3 Find an art loving friend and plan your route

Are you walking or driving? Staying close or further afield? The map is really useful to work out where to go but don’t forget to check in the guide if the artists you are interested in are open on the day of your tour. Opening hours are 11 am to 6 pm so you can probably see 5-8 artists in a day. Why not focus on an area or village e.g. Willingham ? OK, I am horribly biased!

Step 4 Talk to artists-they don’t wear strange smocks!

You will meet-up with some really lovely creative people living and working in interesting places and studios. Some studios are working studios where you may see the artist working. Most artists are really happy to discuss their work and techniques and you can get some helpful tips. Don’t see what you want? Ask about commissions and courses too.

If you do buy or just love their work, then sign to go on their mailing list. That way they will notify you when they are exhibiting and you might get invited to a private viewing.

Step 5 Do elevensies, lunch and afternoon tea

While many artists will offer you a soft drink, you need to keep up your energy! Visiting a new village is a great way to discover new eateries. If you do plan to come to Willingham (and why not ?) there are great options from the Duke of Wellington, the Auction Cafe, The Book-warren, The Bushel Box and the Porterhouse.

Had a good time? Then do it all over again next weekend!