MUST DO: Lee Green Open Studios

Nearly 50 artists are clubbing together again for one of south-east London’s friendliest annual happenings

Hummingbird textile by Jayne Bullock
Not heard of this major community artfest? Well, it returns for an impressive 16th year next month with 47 artists taking part, ranging from a Royal Academy exhibiting printmaker to a bespoke musical instrument maker.

Other participants include photographers, painters, sculptors, ceramicists, jewellers, textile artists, mosaic artists and crafts people. So, your typical mix of Belowtheriverers, then.

What’s the skinny? Simple: artists open up their homes and workspaces from noon-6pm over two weekends; perfect if you’re a slightly nosy type, too, of course. Visitors can wander from one venue to another viewing different work and in many places enjoy a glass of mulled wine, coffee or homemade cake. And many are within the historic Lee Manor Conservation area.

Udaipur by Jane Pickersgill
“It started when we realised just how many artists there were living here,” says organiser (and of course artist) David Weekes. “And now it’s a big deal. Last year we reckon over two thousand people visited and it’s really put this area on the map.”

And no need to be tongue-tied – you can gossip to creatives about their work, find out what inspired them and buy an original piece of art at a reasonable price with no gallery fees.

“There is always something to suit every pocket,” he says, “from gift tags, cards and ceramics to high quality textiles, large art works and sculptures.”

Fuchsia pendants
Fuchsia pendants by Nettie Birch
Sounds a bit like Xmas shopping nirvana then too. The event stretches from Micheldever Road to Lee High Road and from Burnt Ash Lane to Hither Green Station; while a new exhibition space is vintage and homewares shop Crimson & Clover on Staplehurst Road, recently opened by local textile designer Donna Read, whose velvet scarves and cushions have previously been sold at Barney’s in New York. Crimson & Clover will exhibit paintings and drawings by Weekes, while Donna will also exhibit from her home in Handen Road.

Staplehurst Road is also a bit of a hub this time with You Don’t Bring Me Flowers staging a solo exhibition of work by artist Clarissa Porter. Meanwhile painter and printer-maker Jo Oakley, who started the event back in 1999, had two pictures in this year’s Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. A family affair for Jo, her mother Annette Johnson is a regular at LGOS and also a RA exhibitor.

So if you’ve never even been to this part of south London, this little shebang really is the perfect excuse.

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Leaflets showing all the artists taking part are available from local shops & cafes and online here. Lee Green Open Studios is open Sat & Sun Nov 14th-15th & Nov 21st- 22nd, noon – 6pm, Entry free. Nearest Stations: Hither Green & Lee BR

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  • leeopenstudios

    belowtheriver thanks! :)))

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