Creative Digest

Jo Atherton

This month we explore that very human desire to to take a peek behind the scenes. Be it a film, event or much loved personality, curiosity leads us to crave the the interview, hungrily devour candid photos or, just like the bonus footage on a DVD, glimpse behind the camera. Taking part in the annual Herts Open Studios really does offer the public the chance to go behind the scenes into the mysterious world of the artist.

BBC television programmes like The Great British Bake Off, The Great Pottery Throw Down and The Great British Sewing Bee have been hugely popular. The attention these shows have given into the creative process are a big part of their appeal. We get to see the emotional journey people go on when baking an ambitious cake or throwing a challenging shape on the potter’s wheel. Sometimes there are tears, often there are smiles. We can watch the highs and lows of those who create and try to understand the frustrations and joy associated with this process.

With the ubiquitous nature of social media, we are flooded with images of finished work - perfectly framed paintings in neutral settings; beautiful pottery carefully positioned against a white background; skillfully arranged artistic shots of delicate jewellery, I could go on. All of these photos are an important element of a creative business but they serve to remove any reference to the very artistic process from which they sprung - something the public evidently find fascinating.

BBC4’s popular What Do Artists Do All Day is testament to this, proving the huge advantages there can be to inviting the public into your creative space. You may already sell to the public, perhaps online, through a professional gallery or during exhibitions. It is no doubt satisfying to think of one’s work in these settings however opening the doors to your own creative space is a unique and rewarding experience which satisfies the undeniable human curiosity to step into the world of the artist.

Meeting directly with the public is a wonderful chance to glean feedback on your work, not always possible in the formal gallery setting. Nothing compares to good, old fashioned human interaction, and you will find that by meeting the public, answering their questions or even encouraging them to try processes themselves will pay great dividends. Thumbing through sketchbooks or meeting the personality behind the work will do nothing but add to the appeal of your work and by participating in the event, you join a vibrant group of Hertfordshire artists.

Open Studios will allow an insight into your practice, often justifying the time and effort necessary to produce work. It is an annual event which plays to a very human desire to peek into another world, and the advantages of inviting the public into your creative realm are numerous. Herts Open Studios is now open for applications and we strongly encourage you to consider making 2016 the year you invite the public into your world to peer behind the scenes.