Surrey Artists’ Open Studios 2017 throws open doors to art

PUBLISHED: 09:35 13 June 2017 | UPDATED: 09:35 13 June 2017

Interior spaces 17 by Julia Adams

Interior spaces 17 by Julia Adams


As artists across the county welcome visitors through their studio doors for Surrey Artists’ Open Studios this June, art editor Tinx Newton meets some of those involved and finds out why Surrey is such an inspiration to them

Frensham Great Pond by Clare BowenFrensham Great Pond by Clare Bowen

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2017


From June 3 to June 18, Surrey artists will welcome the public into their studios for the annual Surrey Artists’ Open Studios (SAOS) event when over 148 studios will be open across the 16 days. As well as a chance to meet and talk to artists in their place of work, visitors can view demonstrations, buy artwork, enter a free prize draw and explore their own creative skills in various workshops.

For the first time this year, Saturday June 3 will see artists offering an array of activities exclusively to visitors on the first day of the event. Sculptor Malcolm West will be working with a ballet and flamenco dancer, and visitors are invited to observe and engage directly with his process, while ceramicist Cintia Yankelevitch will be offering visitors a chance to handle clay and make their own ceramic artwork using hand-building techniques.

Other activities include the chance to try out family friendly printmaking techniques with artist Kathy Adams, while the Jeffreys Cottage group will be holding special demonstrations of work all day, with each artist talking about their inspiration and their working methods.

“This unique event offers an exciting opportunity to meet artists and makers in Surrey, to hear about and see first-hand their practice and to admire their work,” says Jane McGibbon, coordinator of SAOS. “The artists taking part also offer opportunities to take part in workshops and to meet fellow enthusiasts en route. Whatever your interest, painting, printmaking, glass, ceramics, textiles, jewellery or sculpture, SAOS is a brilliant opportunity to discover creative people who live and work in Surrey.”

Some artists offer trails that help you to plan a full day out, just ask for details when you visit a studio, or check out the advertised trails on the SAOS website.

Last year over 16,000 people visited the studios of Surrey artists making this a highlight of the cultural calendar in the county and here’s a look at just some of those taking part this year.


For more Surrey Artists’ Open Studios information, visit


Jean Tolkovsky

Medium: Ceramics Where: Worplesdon

Website: Tel: 07941 083767

“Visitors to my garden studio will find it bursting with imaginative, dreamlike creations with their toy-like appearance and dry, worn surfaces, which evoke a sense of familiarity and nostalgia. Inspired by fairy tales, nursery rhymes and much more, narratives are intentionally ambiguous and it is always fascinating to see how other people relate to and interpret the work.”

Alex Freeman

Medium: Photography Where: Pirbright

Website: Tel: 07825 279 053

“I am equally happy to photograph behind the scenes of a London ballet school as I am to don a hard hat and work on an industrial site. When I’m not covering private parties and corporate events, I like to work in my studio in Pirbright creating individual portraits.” Renowned for capturing “what is most intriguing in an expression: the off-guard, the quizzical, the emotion that fascinates because you can’t quite pin it down”, Alex’s stills are equally captivating as she celebrates the everyday ‘ordinary’ and invites the viewer to look again.

David Gilbert

Medium: wood sculpture Where: West Byfleet

Website: Tel: 07740 027957

“The inspiration for my work and most of the wood that it is made out of comes from were we live; a houseboat on the Basingstoke Canal. I see the sculptures in the pieces of wood that I choose. Since I work mostly in green wood as soon I start to work on a piece the wood starts to go on a journey of its own. After a few weeks it hardens and begins to split giving its own influence on the final outcome. I do not have any particular preferences for a type of wood, they all have their own individual feel and character.”

Maria Billington

Medium: Metal Where: Frimley Green

Website: Tel: 07746 821435

“My work is first and foremost about the material used. Everything else, from the design through to the end piece, is just a result of my ongoing love of working with metal. I first discovered metal during my foundation course at East Surrey College of Art in Redhill and, more than 20 years later, I still love working with it today. What I am trying to do with every piece I make, and through every technique I apply, is to show off the beauty of the material.”

Mike Woods

Medium: Gouache and watercolour Where: Godalming

Tel: 01483 415892 E-mail:

“Living and working in Surrey has allowed me access to the wonders of the natural downland landscapes of southern England and the exciting urban views in London especially along the River Thames. All giving a wonderful play with light and colour. My paintings capture those fleeting moments in time, using the pattern and structures found in the landscape, with an abundance of exuberant colours. Working mainly in gouache and watercolour on handmade watercolour papers, which add a certain element of texture to the finished work.”

Clare Smythson

Medium: Painted Glass Where: Redhill

Web: Tel: 01737 216650

“I love adding colour to the sunshine – glass paint is such a cheerful medium, as it combines a range of absolutely radiant, jewel-like colours with a propensity for looking quite wonderful on luminous summer days! I concentrate on painting glass items that benefit from light: sun catchers for the garden or windowsill, lanterns filled with candles or led lights. And SAOS visitors this year will be able to see my new studio – I’ve taken my painting outside into the garden and the light!”

Claire Fulleylove

Medium: Mosaics Where: Camberley

Web: Tel: 01276 28023

“I started mosaics as a hobby a while ago and attended a number of workshops and courses across the country to learn more about different mosaic styles. It’s become a real passion, filling my every spare moment. No project is ever the same and each one ends up unique and sometimes quirky. Inspiration comes from all walks of life – I am a part-time bee-keeper, which definitely inspires my bee mosaics!”

Malcolm West

Medium: Sculpture Where: Hersham

Web: Tel: 07977 508138

“I am a professional artist of 37 years experience. I create work of beauty and elegance, inspired by dance and mythology and also paint portraits and landscapes. During Open Studios I will be working from a ballet model on June 3. On other days I’ll work on a sculpture and answer questions on all aspects of clay and stone figurative sculpture, while showing my bronze, bronze resin, stone, oil and pastel works.”

Clare Bowen

Medium: Oils Where: Haslemere

Web: Tel: 07813 320066

“I work in oils and mainly paint en plein air. I am inspired by land and seascapes, nature and light. I enjoy the challenge of capturing an ever-changing subject, such as the turning tide or fleeting sunrise. There is also an element of excitement as to what might happen on a painting day; it could be a snow storm, meeting people, wildlife encounters or a spectacular display of nature.”

Julia Adams

Medium: Mixed media Where: Redhill

Web: Tel: 07989 874017

“I love to play with surface and colour and enjoy paintings that draw you in so that your eyes travel around the canvas as you notice new elements. I work quickly and loosely, enjoying random and uncontrolled marks that are made. Using paint, acrylic, inks, some printmaking and collage, my recent themes include interior spaces, still life and architecture. This year I’m through to the second round of the RA Summer Exhibition.”

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