Open Door time in Johnshaven

When the ninth successive North-East Open Studios week gets under way on Saturday, September 15 Johnshaven will once again be a major focus of attention with 10 venues hosting 11 participants whose talents include painting, jewellery, pottery and textiles, while the work of several other artists will be displayed at the Mill of Benholm.

At 10 Waughton Place a warm welcome is assured to all who enter the intriguingly named Blue Garage. Housing her new collection, this is the working studio of artist, Morag Smith. Developed from sketches, photographs and passing images, Morag’s land and seascapes reflect her personal interpretation of her surroundings.

The Anchor Lane cul-de-sac between the Anchor Hotel and the Johnshaven Stores should keep the visitor happy enough. At number 3 is Kate MacKenzie’s Starfish Studio. Selling only British handmade goods, with a particular emphasis on locally made items, it is a treasure trove of affordable, original art and craft. It is also where Kate exhibits her textiles and acrylic paintings. In a change of venue this year Tracy Blease (Quirky Cat) will also be exhibiting in the Starfish Studio.

Then, just a few steps away at number 2, “Rivendell”, Pam Hamilton works mainly in acrylics on box canvas as well as other techniques and media to paint a variety of subjects in bright, strong colours ranging from local landscapes and flowers to stylized trees.

In contrast to Anchor Lane, one of the principal arteries of the village is Main Street and here there are also three locations. Numbers 4 to 6 is the “Starglazing” workshop where potter, Hilary Firth, may be seen hand throwing her mainly blue and turquoise stoneware mugs, jugs, bowls, butter dishes and garlic pots.

Since Alison Stewart’s permanent home at West Street is as close to the shoreline as it is possible to be it comes as no surprise that it is the ever-changing sea which has been the inspiration for her mixed-media paintings and cards which may be seen at 6 Main Street.

Johnshaven Gallery at number 12 is where resident glass artist and jewellery designer, Ranjit Barry, displays her wearable designs in fused glass and semi-precious gemstones. Three painters are exhibiting at South Street. In number 8, “The Cottage”, Patricia Walter’s paintings emerge from myth, dreams, land and sea while her photography captures daily and seasonal changes of light.

At number 16, William Brian Miller’s work is inspired by every genre of art from the climatic effects on the local environment to figure drawing and still life.

For Florence Graham, 2012 will be the first year she has taken part in NEOS. A young artist, she has been inspired by her new home, number 12, “Hilda Cottage”, to establish “The Lilypad”, a small exhibition of her work.

Also new to NEOS is the ArtIncs Gallery at “Seagreen”, 29 West Street. This is a new contemporary art gallery located in the last house in the village on the seaside and features both established and new artists who specialise in painting and printmaking-particularly seascapes, landscapes and abstract collections.

Although not an official part of the NEOS week the Coastal Colourists, a group of around ten artists who meet regularly and work in various mixed-media, including water colours and acrylics, will, as they have done in the previous years, be exhibiting their paintings in the Lifeboat House.

The Mill of Benholm will house the oil pastels of Pam Pringle, and the photography of Janine Illian, Catherine Webster and Iris Bruce and her senior students at Carronhill School.

NEOS runs from Saturday, September 15 to Sunday, September 23 and it should not be too difficult to spend a rewarding day in Johnshaven and Benholm. As well as a detailed map of the Johnshaven venues, also available from the Johnshaven Stores is a historical walkabout guide to the east end of the village.