Through the Lens

Our new exhibition: the photography of Claire and Jack Schonhut from

Saturday 29th June.

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New workshops & classes

The Open Arts weekend was fabulous and I promise to gather together everyone’s photos and upload them this week.  But in the meantime we have some great creative workshops and classes planned – printmaking, felt making and sewing.All details will be uploaded to the blog over the course of this week and first up is…

Cardinky flyer-1

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.