Bridport and West Dorset Open Studios begins this weekend

PUBLISHED: 14:09 03 September 2019 | UPDATED: 14:09 03 September 2019

Sue Jenkins with her farm animal portraits

Sue Jenkins with her farm animal portraits

Pete Millson.

Last year a devastating fire destroyed half of St Michael’s Studios in Bridport’s Art and Vintage Quarter, but Kit Glaisyer finds out how the local art scene is rising from the ashes for this week-long event

This September marks the 21st Bridport & West Dorset Open Studios (BOS). Between 7th and 15th September over 100 artists at 56 venues, including studios, homes and galleries, will be inviting you to see their work and learn about what inspires them.

This time last year we were all reeling from the devastating fire that destroyed half of St Michael's Studios in Bridport's Art & Vintage Quarter. Many of the artists who once called this their creative home, including myself, have had to find a new place to create. I've recently set up a studio and gallery in central Bridport, while Caroline Ireland and David Brooke now have studios in Morcombelake. Illustrators Paul Blow, Suzanna Hubbard and Russ Snedker have all relocated to other studios on the St Michael's Trading Estate, while Marion Taylor is based in Loders. During BOS Marion will be exhibiting her Colmer's Hill and flower paintings at Eype Church.

Sculptor John WolfeSculptor John Wolfe

The esteemed painter Fred Cuming RA is the Patron of our event. Cuming, who won the Grand Prix de l'Art Contemporaries in 1998, is showing at Sladers Yard Gallery in West Bay alongside Vanessa Gardiner, Luke Elwes, Frances Hatch, Janette Kerr, Marzia Colonna, Fiamma Colonna Montagu and Petter Southall. Joining this fabulous array of artists is Alex Lowery whose paintings of West Bay and Portland are characterised by flattened spaces, simplified forms, and painterly subtleties, evocative of the works of the American realists, Alex Katz and Edward Hopper as well as De Chirico and Giorgio Morandi.

In Symondsbury, Peter Hitchin will be showing his unique figurative works inspired by literature, personal and contemporary life. Nearby, the recently established Lyme Bay Artists will be exhibiting in their new gallery on the Symondsbury Estate. Another artist to move to Bridport from Lyme Regis is painter, print-maker and designer Hugh Dunford Wood, best known for his bespoke hand-printed wallpapers.

Bjork Harradsdottir with some of her ceramicsBjork Harradsdottir with some of her ceramics

Popular artist Gerry Dudgeon returns once again in Melplash, and new-comer Chrissie Jenkins arrives in Beaminster from New Zealand. Three new artists to BOS have established themselves at the Red Barn Studios in West Chelborough, near Evershot. Harland Viney, showing in Mangerton Mill, was shortlisted for the John Ruskin Prize in 2017, while sculptor John Wolf was awarded the van Leyden prize from the Medical Arts Society in 2018. And Sue Jenkins will be exhibiting her portraits of farm animals and wildlife in Wynford Eagle.

In Bridport, the Portmanteau Gallery will host geometric ceramics by Björk Haraldsdóttir alongside woven tapestry and etchings by Jacy Wall. Nearby, find popular semi-abstract paintings by Boo Mallinson and gestural calligraphic paintings by Mart Tebbs.

Talented local aritst Ella SquirrellTalented local aritst Ella Squirrell

One of the most interesting new participant to BOS 2019 is sculptor Nigel Dawes. He will be showing several of his extraordinary Vacuum Cleaner Mutations, 'Frankenstein sculptures' assembled from broken household objects and toys.

Bridport & West Dorset Open Studios runs from 7- 15 September. Look out for our beautiful 56-page BOS Guide, with cover by local artist Ella Squirrell who recently graduated from Falmouth College of Art. Ella was one of the artists selected for the FBA Futures 2019 exhibition at Mall Galleries in London. The BOS Guide also includes distinctive portraits of participating artists by Bridport photographer Pete Millson. More at

Latest from the Dorset