Raku Kilns in the courtyard!

Its very busy in the court yard! There is  a Raku kiln in the courtyard all day, come and see our ceramicists at work!


Derbyshire Open Arts at Smithy Studios 2013

Selected artwork on display and in progress this weekend at the Smithy Studios today. Pop in and say hello, and enjoy these photos!

Artist #3 Erika Robertson

Derbyshire Open Artists: 

Hello, as promised this week we will be introducing you to the artists taking part in this years Derbyshire Open Arts and exhibiting their work at The Smithy Studios.

Erika Robertson

Erika primarily works with oil paint on wood or canvas. Her art is an eclectic collection of images arising from her experiences and imagination. A strong theme in her work is the contrast between life and death.


She explores the beauty and severity of life through colour, abstraction and repetitive forms. Her paintings are representations of images that have stayed with her until she has committed them to canvas. Erika describes the need to paint them as a compulsion, a necessary action to clear them from her mind.


The use of many layers of oil paint, in painstakingly meticulous detail, gives a depth to her work arising both from the weight of the paint and the combination of colours coming through the layers.


Artists talking

During last years Derbyshire Open Arts event participating artists were filmed by student Jack Hoard who spent a day visiting a selection of artists in the town.

Alex Snowdon

We are pleased to introduce you  to Alex Snowdon who is making her debut at Derbyshire Open Arts this year.

alexandrasnowdon.pic.BWAlex designs and produces high quality, eco-friendly  hand pulled screen prints, giclee prints & cards, tote bags and lunch bags. We have been stocking Alex’s work for about a year now and have got to know her well on her visits to the studios.  Here is Alex writing about her work;

“I take pride in my work from the original design through to the finished product. I’ve always loved art, as soon as I left school I headed off to art college in the breezy seaside town of Blackpool. During my time there I made some great friends, met my future husband Charlie, and graduated with a Higher National Diploma in Design.

Soon afterwards Charlie and I moved to Manchester and I got a job as a graphic designer. This coincided with the whole graphic design industry going digital. I had to quickly learn how to use an Apple Mac and all the design software that went with it. Subsequently I spent the early years of my working life with the niggling feeling that this wasn’t the career that I had ‘signed up for’, but after investing so much time and energy in it I felt I had no option other than to adapt and embrace the new technology.

leap_print My life turned around in my mid thirties when Charlie and I decided to realise our long term goal of travelling the world. I took my courage in both hands and asked my employer for a one year sabbatical. Amazingly they said yes and we spent an unforgettable twelve months living out our dreams across South America, the South Pacific, (where we got married!), New Zealand, Australia and Asia.

While we were away we learned a lot about ourselves and each other. I also realised that despite my disillusionment with my career, I still had a passion for design. Experiencing new cultures and being exposed to such an amazing range of ethnic art and design really rekindled my creative flame.

beer.drawing.close.upAfter arriving back in England we set about making some changes, including swapping our tiny city flat for a cute stone cottage in the countryside. A couple of weeks after moving in I embarked on a three year part time graphic design and illustration degree. Those three years where among the best, and worst of my life. Finding time to fit my studies in around my full time job and learning to write essays again was a tough call, but learning new creative skills and rediscovering long forgotten talents were some of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I finally got my happy ending in the summer of 2009 when I graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a first class degree with honours, I didn’t stop smiling for days!

Six months later, after spending the summer designing my own collection of cards, bags and prints I launched Snowdon Design & Craft.

life.drawing.close.upIn my free time I still love to travel, and am continually inspired by folk art from around the world. My experience working as a graphic designer has taught me to really listen to what my customers want, and I always enjoy receiving feedback and suggestions from people who are interested in my work.”

We hope that you will love Alex’s work as much as we do and come along on Sunday morning when Alex is hand printing in the Studios from 11 – 1.30.

Derbyshire Open Artists: Philippa Maye

Hello, as promised this week we will be introducing you to the artists taking part in this years Derbyshire Open Arts and exhibiting their work at The Smithy Studios.

Philippa Maye

Philippa is a ceramicist working in porcelain and porcelain paper clay. Philippa’s work is thoughtful and precise; her word and letter spirals exemplify this.

P1060496The spirals are formed using letter punches, each letter individually placed. Philippa  places her text on her vessels and bowls sometimes in clear view and sometimes hidden. If you spy a bowl upon a mirror look for the reflected text.

P1060735 P1060739 Philippa’s porcelain paper clay vessels exhibit a deceptive fragility; pale, translucent and bearing her hallmark text. Here we see a pair of vessels before their firing during which the paper is burnt off leaving the emergent fragility.20120526-133349.jpgPhilippa demonstrates a skilled use of glazes in her practice creating gleaming surfaces with an exquisite use of colour.

On the Saturday of the Open Arts (if the weather is fair) Philippa and Jim Symon will be working with a raku kiln in our courtyard. Not to be missed, you can view a previous firing here.

Derbyshire Open Arts 2013

We’re excited to once again be taking part in the Derbyshire Open Arts event. As in previous years we have a great line up of artists with new work to show.

We always start our preparations with a big clear up – Philippa has been in charge of the Studios…

P1060748Outside, we have new planters a lovely trailing ivy and these…

P1060730And whilst upstairs work on the gallery shop is still in progress but we can tell you that this year there will be more space for art and craft work. This is our 2013 line up…

Alex Snowdon, original screen prints

alex where thers teaPhilippa Maye, ceramicist

20120526-133349.jpgCatherine Carr, glass artist

Thank You!!Jim Symon, potter

P1060426Erika Robertson, fine art

P1040787Habbah Dodd, Felt artist

P1060744Keep in touch in the run up to Derbyshire Open Arts as we bring you more news, our timetable of events and more photos. We look forward to seeing you!

open arts