Lesley Meaker – Hampshire Open Studios

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Lesley lives on the borders of Hampshire and Dorset and has art at the centre of her life. The natural beauty of the surrounding countryside constantly inspires her print-making while her career as the curator of ArtCare’s art collection at Salisbury Hospital keeps her incredibly busy.

That would be sufficient for many, but Lesley is also the Events Manager for Hampshire Open Studios. HOS was founded in 1999. By 2010 the event had been taken over by the artist Pete Gilbert who asked Lesley for her support. So since late 2014 Lesley has been managing Hampshire Open Studios with a small team of volunteers.

“I work three to four days a week for the Salisbury art collection, and then from January to July the rest of my time is spent working on Hampshire Open Studios. It can be all encompassing, eating into evenings and weekends too. But as I come from an community arts background I think it’s a fabulous event to be involved with.”

Since then Hampshire has seen the Open Studios grow and develop, embracing not only individual artists working in a wide selection of media, but also groups of artists working under their own banner.

Lesley deals with all aspects of the event, collating the artists, creating the layout for the HOS program (she studied graphic design at Bournemouth University), visiting artists and delivering the programs.
“I deliver four hundred boxes in three days covering around a thousand miles – Hampshire is actually very large! In three years the event has grown from one hundred and fifty artists taking part to two hundred and fifty-five this year which is phenomenal.

Hampshire Open Studios is a very popular event, people return year after year and will plan a route to include either their favourite artists if they are collectors or travel around another area to discover new artists. Our program has become more like an arts directory with artists listed geographically, then a third of our budget goes toward advertising in arts features and of course social media is invaluable.”

Lesley has created a winning formula and last year three hundred thousand pounds worth of art was sold during the Hampshire Open Studio ten-day event.

“I email all the artists involved after the event and their feedback is always very positive. In terms of visitor comments often they find it difficult to track down some of eighty-two studios that are tucked away in the middle of the New Forest for example, you can’t always rely on sat nav!”

And for the future? “ I would love to see a Hampshire Open Studio community project at some point and of course more artists taking part attracting more visitors!”

If you would like to exhibit your work from your studio or visit Hampshire Open Studios please contact:
www.hampshireopenstudios.org.uk

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