Derbyshire Open Arts is a worthy institution, which last year nearly went down.
The idea was simple. Why don't we get all the artists in Derbyshire (and they are many and various) to open their studios, galleries, workshops to the public on the spring bank holiday weekend. They did, and produced a guide to the whole county, so that any interested parties could trace their way from Melbourne to Glossop if they wanted, visiting all the glassmakers, or watercolorists, ceramicists, woodworkers - whatever took their interest. And it worked, for a period of years. But like many voluntary organisations, it was a victim of its own success. The original enthusiasts began to grow weary, but the new generation weren't hasty in coming forward. And last year it hit crisis point. But instead of just closing down, it decided to take a year out, to give time to regroup. This year it relaunched, and thank goodness. I hasten to add, it is no thanks to me, and no way am I a spokesman for it, but I have been a beneficiary - so this is by way of a thank you.
This last weekend I joined other Peak District Artisans in a joint exhibition at Beechenhill Farm near Ilam. I knew it would be enjoyable spending time with my fellow artists, but I have to confess I wondered how many of the great Derbyshire public would find their way to a pretty remote hill farm in the extreme south west of the county. The answer was many, and not just from Derbyshire, but Staffordshire, and even as far away as Birmingham. It was a great weekend, and one which recharges the batteries - in my case simply talking to people who love wood, and knowing that what you make is appreciated, whether or not they decide to buy.