Margaret River Region Open Studios Spreads its Creative Wings

In just five years, Margaret River Region Open Studios has become Australia’s largest open art studios event. It returns in April with more artists participating than ever before. 

More than 130 artists will open their studios from April 28 – May 13, inviting art lovers into their inner sanctums to experience the inspiration, smell the paint, see the transformational stages of artwork, and get to know the creative minds behind the art. From the north of the region, in Busselton, to the south in Augusta, painters, sculptors, furniture makers, jewellers, illustrators, glassblowers, printmakers, ceramicists and artisans will open their studios to welcome in visitors for a behind-the-scenes sensory experience.

Thanks to a collaboration between local artists Emily Jackson and Dorothy Davies, Margaret River Region Open Studios also has a fresh new approach for 2018. Chairman Jim Davies said it was fitting for the style of the creative and interactive event to evolve in its fifth year.

“We’re thrilled to have so many talented artists keen to open their studios to the public for this year’s Margaret River Region Open Studios event, and with the organic growth of the event year-on-year we wanted to also create a strong and identifiable brand.

“The vibrant colours of the brand reflect the stunning colours of the Margaret River region, which inspire our artists on a daily basis, whether it be the Indian Ocean and our stunning beaches, the dramatic coastline, karri forest or native flora and fauna. You can certainly see the colours of the region through even the most abstract art.”

This year, the program is packed with a wealth of diverse artistic talent, allowing visitors to pick out their favourite artists, mediums, styles, or locations to create a personal DIY experience.

By inviting artists to open their studios and homes, art lovers have the opportunity to meet the people behind the amazing art and get a peek into their creative lives and inspirational spaces.

Local artists are the stars of the show and talent this year includes renowned landscape artist Douglas Kirsop, who is participating for the first time, as well as other recognisable artistic names including Rachel Coad, Leon Pericles, Rebecca Cool, Mary Lynne Stratton, Lauren Wilhelm, Jo Broadhurst, Ian Mutch, and many more.

Yallingup hills-based Kirsop said he was looking forward to opening his studio for the event this year.

“During the past Margaret River Region Open Studios events I’ve often been involved with exhibitions, but this year I’m looking forward to meeting new people over the two weeks when they visit my studio, ” he said.

“Working on your own in the studio can be quite insular as it is for most artists, so to have the opportunity to talk to people about your art, the art process, style, and inspiration is refreshing and breathes new energy into your work.

“It also gives me an excuse to clean up and organise the studio, sort out and prepare work that I’ve archived over the years ready to display. I’m really looking forward to it.” he said.

Each artist’s studio, workshop, or exhibition space is mapped, allowing visitors to easily plan their inspirational days over the 16-day event. Margaret River Region Open Studios is free to attend and no bookings are needed – it must be the most accessible event in the south west!

The event was born from a chance meeting between its founders Bill Castleden and Jillian Taylor in 2012. They both had experience of open studios events in the UK and thought they could replicate the experience for WA’s Cape to Cape region. They gained support from the local tourism and arts organisations, and a feasibility study showed there was strong support for the concept.

The event has grown from strength to strength each year and its fifth year will be the biggest yet, even resulting in an award-winning book in 2016 (Artists of the Margaret River Region).

Visitors to the region have a one-off experience, being able to visit and meet creative and fascinating locals, understand the region through their beautiful and varied artwork, get off the beaten track and onto the back roads to visit some beautiful studios and properties and gain first-hand knowledge and appreciation of the beauty of the region.

You can pick up a copy of the Margaret River Region Open Studios program and map at the Margaret River and Busselton Visitor’s Centres.

For a behind the scenes look at the artists and their work, watch the beautifully curated video below.

Art lovers, make sure you’ve checked out our full list of galleries to visit in the Margaret River region.

Janine Pittaway

Author Janine Pittaway

Janine Pittaway is a proud West Aussie, a food and wine lover, a 25-year communications professional and, for her sins, a passionate Fremantle Dockers supporter. When she’s not working for clients of her PR business, Bright Communications, she’s out and about experiencing the south west’s restaurants, coastline and attractions. Janine moved to Yallingup five years ago with her partner Stewart and cat Sago.

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