Wylye Valley Art Trail
For the artists, it is an excellent way to showcase their work and earn some money from their creative endeavours; for art lovers, the Wylye Valley Art Trail is a visual feast – that’s free – of painting, sculpture, photography, furniture, ceramics, glass, millinery and much more.
This biannual festival, held this year over nine days from May 27 to June 4, features 73 venues that stretch from Mere, north up to Westbury, east to Stapleford and south to Donhead St Mary and more than 360 artists, making it the largest and most diverse open studios event in Wiltshire. ‘But it’s still small enough that you can do it all if you want to, and it also gives people a chance to discover a place or an area they don’t really know,’ says Laura Rich, an artist from Mere, and one of the festival organisers.
Some of those exhibiting, such as Nick Andrew and Anthony Connolly, are award-winning artists; others are emerging talents such as Freya Bramble-Carter of The Great Pottery Throwdown fame, or amateurs for whom the festival is a great chance to have their work seen by the public. ‘I started my career on the Arts Trail,’ says Laura. ‘You get your work in front of people who have no connection to you, and for the first time get their feedback which can be eye-opening!’ Laura’s participation in the Art Trail resulted in a commission to provide art works for 64 Britannia and 30 Cunard cruise ships.
The festival is open to artists who live in the area or have some connection to it. Everyone who applies is accepted, and the festival is funded by the fees paid to enter. Some artists show in their own studio, others band together to show in a larger space such as a village hall or gallery. Many demonstrate their working techniques and welcome questions and feedback.
The art varies in price from £10 to £10,000. ‘But we don’t expect everyone to buy so visitors shouldn’t feel they cannot look at the work just for the pleasure of it,’ says Laura. If you do want to buy, note that most venues don’t have credit card facilities so cash or a chequebook is best.
The free booklet that accompanies the Art Trail gives full details of the artists and venues including those that do demonstrations, put on kids activities, have disabled access, and whether refreshments are available. Pick one up at libraries, art shops and tourist information centres.
For more information see www.wvat.co.uk and the Wylye Art Trail Facebook page.