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A Magazine for Sheffield

Open Up Sheffield Public invited to explore hundreds of artists' studios across the city as festival returns for 2024

Taking place over five days in May, the free festival includes work by painters, sculptors and ceramicists, as well as bookbinders, instrument makers and furniture designers.

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Laure from ADVA Photography.

Sheffield residents will have a unique opportunity to explore the creative workspaces of some of the city’s practising artists next month, as Open Up Sheffield returns for 2024 with over 110 studios across the city taking part.

This year’s open studios event takes place on 4, 5, 6, 11 and 12 May, and will see artists, makers, designers and craftspeople throw open the doors of their studios to let the public see them at work and talk to them about the creative process.

The festival is organised and run by artists themselves on a not-for-profit basis, and includes venues ranging from communal studios in the city centre like Bloc Projects and The Art House to artists’ homes across the city and further afield to Barnsley and the Peak District.

“Our vision for Open Up is that it’s much more than just an exhibition: it’s about connecting people with artists and makers, their creativity and the many interesting places they work in and around the city,” said Open Up organiser and Walkley-based ceramicist Andy van Vliet.

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Laure from ADVA Photography.

“It's about talking about what we do, our creative practice, and reaping the rewards from engaging with a curious public and the network of other artists and makers that join us.”

The free festival, which has now run for more than 25 years, includes work from painters, sculptors, printmakers and photographers, alongside jewellery-makers, textile artists, illustrators and designers.

Some of the more unusual practices on display include Michael Borkowsky, who describes his art as “primarily scent based”, and freelance bookbinder and conservationist Solange Masher who runs Liber Conservation at Norfolk Park.

As well as those working in fine art the festival also spotlights creatives and makers in other fields, such as violin and viola builder Emma Hardy who uses locally sourced woods at her workshop in Portland Works, and reclaimed furniture designer Finbarr Lucas.

This year’s festival will celebrate the work of performance artist Roland Miller, who died in 2022. Miller’s friends and family are opening his Greystones studio to both explore his work and invite people to share memories and stories of a man described in the Guardian as having “helped shape performance art in Britain”.

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Laure from ADVA Photography.

According to van Vliet, the five-day festival promotes a “DIY spirit” and the programme is co-created with the artists taking part. Alongside the annual May festival, Open Up host work year-round on their website and run a series of talks, events and training opportunities.

“Open Up Sheffield is funded primarily by participating artists, but also by a small amount of advertising, grants and sponsorship,” said van Vliet. “Our business model is based around keeping the cost to artists as low as possible whilst delivering a successful event.”

Visitors to Open Up Sheffield will have the opportunity to buy work directly from many of the artists and makers involved, with some also taking commissions for bespoke work and offering tutorials and workshops.

For the first time this year, organisers of the festival have created a series of short videos highlighting some of the artists’ taking part and speaking to them about their practice. You can find some of these directly below, or watch all of them online on Open Up’s website.

Learn more

Open Up Sheffield 2024 takes place at venues across Sheffield, Barnsley and the Peak District on 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 May. You can find a guide to all 110 artists taking part on their website.

Open Up lists studios which are more accessible to visitors with limited mobility. The organisers recommend contacting studios directly with any questions about access – their details are listed in the Open Up Sheffield guide.

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