What success feels like

What success feels like

At the start of a party, there's a pause. Everything is in place, but no-one has arrived yet. There's a stark emptiness about the place. You notice dust in a corner and a dent in one of the cushions. You plump it up! Then people begin to arrive and there's a fast forward rush of jokes, stories and convo. Bravo, the party boomed into life! An art show is a great excuse for a party.

Over the whole duration of 5 days, 80 people visited, and although they didn't arrive all at once, I felt that party feeling about the whole event. In a sense I have a party feeling about my work. I feel it's a success when there's energy packed into it and it's bursting a little at the seams.

Pop up Studio

I arranged the exhibition very much like a real open studio, with piles of sketches for people to rifle through - and they did rifle. It was a great opportunity for people to be able to touch art, turn it over and physically engage with it.

Piles of sketches on a table in a cafe



Piles of sketches and artworks had spent months stacked in drawers, with only the occasional shuffle and jiggle in my living room studio. Some were ripped up and purged from the stack, and some I worked over. Displayed in this theatre of audience participation, they danced to life and the audience responded. Either by turning tail with a quick exit, or by glancing, gazing, staring and directing forthright questions to satisfy curiosity.


I was really astonished at how observant people were about the work. This led to them being curious about it, especially the working techniques. Which came first, the drawing or the colours? How did I paint on fabric? Is it batik? What do the titles mean? 

People, connection and happiness

So I felt very connected through these conversations and was pleased to see everyone, including those with their own agenda such as Chris who came in to show me his horse drawings. He considerately bought a card! One of my oldest friends, Mish, came down from London for the afternoon and we sat in the sunny bay window for a catch up. Tim Scrace (of Scrace Architects, who I work for part time) brought his wife Sue. Simon, Christine and Estelle Phillips who I know from the local writers group (run by Tom Bromley) came in, here is Estelle photographing her food 😛

If I don't know to mention you by name, don't assume I've forgotten you! Especially memorable was the overseas visitor who related the dramatic story of the day the batik wax caught fire and she tried to extinguish it with water! And local visitor @louiseinthegarden who spotted the title of the art works and listened with interest when I explained about popular baby names of the 1930s.

I corralled some people from the High Street when I saw them pass by, such as David Christie, one of the directors of the most contemporary gallery in Salisbury - the Vanner Gallery and my pilates teacher. David very kindly popped up and Alison had a look just before I closed the show on Sunday. She announced to the class the following week that the show was good, very good, really good.

Estelle Phillips standing on a chair photographing food


Other successes

On an artistic level, I'm aware that I'm half way with this current project (or exploration as you might say). It is very much a work in progress for me. But for the visitors, the stage of progress wasn't their focus. They had an experience and they enjoyed it. Some came back and brought someone with them - a great endorsement. Happily, I felt that people caught on to the gist of the work, especially women. At its core it's about female power: an archetypal female vivacity portrayed. But I don't want to get too pretentious about it. One young woman simply summed it up as feminist.

I successfully kick started (revived) my mailing list with contact info dropped into something like a mini ballot box.

Frankie Sinclair with badges

Sales - well I managed to sell some cards and fabric badges. Here's to selling art too and connecting with collectors.

Your thoughts?

When did you last go to an artist's open studios and did you enjoy it? Would you go back? What were the plus and minus points?

Essentially I'm interested in your own opinion: what makes a successful art show? Use the comment box below.


If you are a collector (experienced or novice), you can sign up to my mailing list for notice of new events and opportunities to connect with me, my peers and great art.





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