Londoners had the oppoprtunity to peek behind the scenes of artists’ studios and meet over 120 artists, designers and makers last weekend in Bow.
The Bow Road Open Studios run by the charity Bow Arts Trust aimed to break down the boundaries between artists at Bow Arts and Tower Hamlets residents by opening their doors to the public.
Visitors could explore the artists’ work and discover their own creativity with various different activities alongside live music and pop-up local food stalls. Also at the event, there was an auction hosted by Bow Art’s Nunnery Gallery. The contemporary art gallery is located in the artists’ quarter in Bow.
Rosamond Murdoch, director of the Nunnery Gallery, said: “Bow Road Open Studios is the perfect opportunity for people who would normally never go in a gallery to visit an art studio from the inside. We want to break down the boundaries and perceived barriers between the artists and the local community by hosting it more like a party so that everyone feels included.”
“This year Bow Road Open Studios coincided with Eid-al-fitr, the end of Ramadan for the Muslim population and that’s the majority of people living in this area. Many people were joining our event and there was lots of mixing of these two communities which was a really valuable moment.”
The event also included a local makers’ market. Pupils from Mayflower Primary School in Poplar ran their own market stall with help of teacher Benjamin Jones. The 8 to 9 years olds sold handmade homewares to raise money for arts activities.
The cooperation with the school is just one of Bow Arts’ education projects. The charity manages several programmes, which take world-class artists into 90 schools to improve the lives and learning of children and young people.
Visitors at Bow Road Open Studios could also explore the forgotten local history of textiles showcased in the exhibition Raw Materials at the Nunnery Gallery.
Murdoch explained: “The exhibition series Raw Materials enables new communities in Tower Hamlets to learn about the local history and its rich industrial past. The 2012 Olympics with the Olympic Park less than a mile away have quickly changed the area with many people moving to Tower Hamlets. By drawing attention to the area’s industrial history through art, we try to unite old and new communities in Tower Hamlets.”
The event also included family-friendly workshops like an indigo-dying workshop by artist Sarah Desmarais.
Desmarais told ELL: “In our culture, we tend to see people either born artistic or not. I really want to challenge this idea because I believe that everybody can be creative, everybody can create handmade things.”
“We are so used to buy everything nowadays, that’s why I think we are in danger of losing practical know-how. We should restart making more handmade things. It’s a creative and relaxing process that everybody can learn to do. It does not only have wellbeing benefits but also supports sustainability and challenges consumerism.”
The Raw Materials exhibition ends this Sunday, June 24, 2018.
The next exhibition at the Nunnery Gallery is the Bow Open Show 2018 curated by Turner Prize nominee artist Mark Titchner. He selected 24 works from over 500 artists across 13 London studio sites to showcase their work. The exhibition will run from July 6 to August 26.
Further events and exhibitions at Bow Arts can be found here.