Hannah: Hi Kath, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for the blog, I know you are really busy with all the build up and planning for Bradford Open for Art, what is your role in the event?
Kath: I usually describe myself as the co-ordinator. My main responsibilities have been the planning and organising of the event and creating the publicity materials including the website.
Hannah: What is Bradford Open for Art?
Kath: It is an area wide event that aims to showcase some of the huge amount of artistic talent that there is in the region. It is open to all types and genres of artist and it offers them a variety of places and ways to share their work.
Hannah: So Bradford Open for Art is a new event that seems to have grown up out of nowhere; how did it come about and what was the catalyst for this huge creative happening?
Kath: The short, flip answer would be that I wanted to sell some pots! Actually, it was a little bit of frustration that for most of Bradford, there was no Open Studios event that we could take part in and that other popular events such as Saltaire Arts Trail are always so heavily oversubscribed. Discussing it with the other members of the Aire Valley Arts Association (which I am secretary of) we thought that it would be a good idea to organise one and so I volunteered to co-ordinate it. This was at the end of January this year, and as I started to put out some feelers, I got an amazing response from most of the arts organisations in the area offering space and support and so the format of a combination of Open Studios, Art Fairs and Art Exhibitions quickly evolved.
Hannah: There is a huge creative culture in the Bradford area, which sometimes gets overlooked in the shadow of all the great events happening in Leeds. However vibrant local events such as Saltaire Arts Trail do exist, so how is Bradford Open for Art different and what can it do for artists and the art lovers?
Kath: The event at Saltaire is an excellent showcase for those artists that are selected, but as I mentioned, it is so often oversubscribed that many local artists find it difficult to get in, and if they do, the historic cottages mean that the space to show their work can be limited. The aim of this event was to allow any artist who wanted to,
the chance to use their own home or studio space to show their work, and if they did not have suitable premises, then the chance to show or sell in a range of venues. We also wanted to make it a genuinely ‘open’ event; we wanted to allow anyone who was brave enough, the chance to show their work. Art is such a ‘broad church’ of diverse styles and inspirations – but then too, so is the public’s appreciation of it. There may be fashions and trends in art, but what I think is exciting is that this is a completely inclusive event and by offering such diversity, it will give the visiting public the chance to perhaps discover something new and different. The other thing that we wanted them to be able to discover was the amazing diversity of the Bradford Area, not only culturally, but also the scenery, landscape and different districts as well as its many amazing attractions. And then, the other feature of this event is the number of free demonstrations and workshops that visitors will be able to enjoy – the chance to see and take part in the creative processes – and who knows, perhaps get inspired themselves!
Hannah: As a practising ceramist and exhibitor in Bradford Open for Art, how are you getting involved as a maker?
Kath: I will be opening my house and studio in Cullingworth as one of the Open Studios, sharing my space with a fellow ceramicist, Pam Broadhurst. I will be doing some demonstrations during the event including slab building and paperclay and Pam, who specialises in Raku, will be doing some firings including the beautiful horsehair technique.
Hannah: If you could only visit one of the events happening during Bradford Open for Art, what would it be and why?
Kath: Wow! That is a difficult question! All of them have so much to offer. I think the Art Fair at Kala Sangam will be really interesting, with the free Islamic calligraphy workshops and the chance to see the dance lessons, but as an artist who specialises in landscape I think that the scenery around Ferndean Manor is some of the loveliest in the area and with the Haworth Storytelling Festival going on at the same time as the Art Fair and then the Art Exhibition there as well, if I was forced to pick, that would probably be the one.
Hannah: Given the enthusiasm so far what does the future hold for Bradford Open for Art; do you you think it will become an annual event?
Kath: I hope that it will, and perhaps we can even time it to coincide with some of the other Bradford Art events as well to make it even better for the visiting public. One of the crazy things this year is that we were actually offered more space than we could find artists for at such short notice – not something that we as artists are used to! As I said, the various arts organisations have been brilliant and there has been just such a positive buzz from all the artistic communities in the area that I believe that it can only continue to grow and get better for everyone – artists and visitors alike!
Thanks Kath, I really appreciate you taking the time out to talk to me.