Words: Carmen Jenner | Images: Elements Margaret River
April is the best month to experience art at the coalface, so to speak, as the region’s artists throw open their studio doors to all-comers.
As if the landscape isn’t already decorative enough over 120 artists are preparing to fling open their ornate doors and invite the public into their homes and studios. Running from April 9 to 24, for the third year in a row, the Margaret River Region Open Studios (MRROS) unabashedly shows off the area’s creative talent to art lovers.
The Margaret River region’s artistic superstars spin their creative talent from Busselton to Augusta and plenty of spots in between.
Just as the distance is broad, so too is the range of mediums on show including painting, drawing, sculpture, stone-carving, glass-making, printmaking, woodwork, furniture, jewellery, ceramics, textiles, installations, metalwork, mixed media, photography and up-cycling.
The event is free for visitors (which exceeded an astonishing 22,000 in 2015) who relish in the surprise of not knowing entirely what to expect from each property. It could be a one-bedroom studio to a sprawling vista of delight like Rebecca Cool and Ross Miller’s Rosa Brook Farm and studios which showcase Ross’s playful sculptures and Rebecca’s colourful fabrics.
Mechelle Bernhardt, marketing director at MRROS, has worked on the project since its inception in 2014 and says, “There’s something for everyone. The off-the-grid art showings are so exciting for patrons to see where the artists live and work.
“It’s full of soul. It showcases the creative mind behind the art and the lifestyle. The creations are unique in this glorious pocket of the world, where the artworks are special because we’re not influenced by anyone because of our remoteness.”
MRROS is not-for-profit and the very definition of a community project administered by a board of professionals, artists, volunteers and contractors. Co-founders Bill Castleden and Jillian Taylor developed an alternative creative outlet after the closure of many regional galleries as a result of the GFC. All event sales are commission-free thus enabling a generation of more art and ultimately the opening of additional galleries.
Falling in the school holidays means many families will visit during one of the busiest times of the year. Here’s a few family-friendly highlights which may even lead to a new generation of creatives.
Natasha Bostock’s paintings, printmaking, illustrations and sculptures delight, as do her mother Diana Bostock’s fairytale-like underworld depictions on recycled roofing iron mounted on timber.
“I will be exhibiting and working from my mum’s studio in Metricup this year,” says Natasha, “so I will relocate my essential tools and inspirational objects to set up a micro-studio for the duration of the event.
It’s a beautiful rural location surrounded by garden and will be the first time I’ve really worked alongside my mum.”
For colourful homewares and limited edition prints, pop into Fi Wilkie’s Toot Rosa Brook Studio and collect a momento from the region.
Converted from an old farming shed, Fi runs workshops for budding artists as well as offering accommodation with the chance to transcend into the zone and revel in that gorgeous light.
Heading to Prevelly, Jo Broadhurst’s expressive sculptures crafted from earthenware clay provide a brief history lesson on Australian icons like Ned Kelly and pioneers as well as current figures. With pieces standing up 1.4m high, little ones will marvel looking up at these notorious characters.
Located near the Margaret River township, textile artist Britta Sorensen’s funky upcycling shed full of whimsical one-off rag weaving creations celebrate life, much as she delights in the opportunity to interact with the public.
“Open Studios offers a great deal of exposure normally hard to get as we’re so isolated. There’s a huge amount of talent, creativity and uniqueness down here and it’s wonderful to exchange words with the public and receive feedback.”
Britta’s decorative vintage caravans on site are the perfect cubbyhouses for the kids to investigate. So indulge your creative side and visit some of the region’s very best artists – right where the magic happens.
Map out your art trail in advance to make the most of your visit. Brochures are now available from your nearest visitor centre.