For a person that usually stays in the background, I can sometimes get a bit more brave and open my studio to the public. In all cases it has been through Arts Connect Inc. In previous years I have opened my studio for a weekend at the end of each month. With Covid restrictions nothing happened last year, but a break was already in the pipeline, so Open Studios Sunshine Coast morphed from monthly into a bigger once a year event. Much more advertising, lots or organising, new signage and guide books – and a lot of excitement.
Our studios were open from the 20-28 March, with the hinterland studios open on the first weekend and the coastal ones the second, with workshops and a party in between. Various routes were plotted out – I was on the Nambour-Montville trail.
First things first though – a big studio clean up – floors mopped in places I never even think about. Windows cleaned. Some overdue framing got done, and there were new cards to make – both photographic and cyanotype. The works on the walls needed to be curated and hung even though I’m sure at my age I shouldn’t be clambering around tops of tables and cupboards! Everything needed to be priced and labelled. Notice boards were tidied up (I’m surprised at how many people actually look at what is on them), and some ‘how to’ displays for etching, linocut, pvc plate printing and cyanotype set up.
Some rearranging was necessary to fit in with my Covid plan so I put both my studio tables in the middle of the room (one is usually along the windows) so visitors could move freely around (providing I wasn’t in the way – and I often was!). I checked my Square eReader as experience had told me that it is difficult to sell if you can’t take credit cards. Covid was also favouring cards over cash. My sanitiser greeted visitors at the door.
Eventually opening day arrived – along with a major weather event. There was flooding up and down the coast – both NSW and Queensland – fortunately no flooding at Mapleton as we are up high on an old volcanic ridge, but it was wet, wet, wet and foggy.
Despite my misgivings, people did come – running in under their umbrellas. The floor was soon strewn with wet grass and leaves. Everyone was chatty and friendly and many bought cards and small prints. There was a Covid Q code next to the sanitiser and although most were familiar with the Q code procedure there were still those that had phones that weren’t capable of reading Q codes, had no phone with them, or had a capable phone that denied access. All got sorted then my Square eReader (which allows me to take payments via my phone) claimed it was damaged just as I was about to make a sale! Right at the exact moment another artist burst in through the door and said “I know what to do with that” – so another technical problem was dispensed with and the sale went through. Thank you Fleur!
I needed to be doing something. I decided that printmaking was going to be a bit too messy, it definitely wasn’t cyanotype weather, and I just didn’t have a painting on the go. Photography came to the rescue so I started work on an embroidered photo. People were intrigued by this and it was an easy project to put down at a seconds notice. People asked lots of questions, which was good, as it is easier to answer questions about my work than think of something to say. One tiny boy said “do you have vanishing points in your pictures?” I was impressed, and fortunately the two etchings right in front of him did have vanishing points to show him, but generally a lot of my work is flat in design.
On the second weekend I saw the other side of the event and went to ten studios and one gallery on the coast and became the visitor rather than the artist. They had beautiful weather. How envious was I of that? There were definitely more people out and about. Nevertheless, it had been a wonderful experience to be part of Open Studios Sunshine Coast 2021, and no doubt I will do it again.