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What to expect from Merton Arts Fair

This week kickstarts the annual Merton Arts Fair, which will bring art to the borough with the best in Merton’s talent, alongside workshops, open houses and demonstrations. We find out more from organiser Claire Morgan…

1.What can visitors expect from this year’s fair?
There’s a lot to choose from! The core of the festival is the artists’ open houses and studios, where artists open their doors to the public. Look out for the estate agent’s boards and balloons outside many of the venues – and don’t be shy about knocking on doors! It’s free, and while much of the work is for sale, there’s no pressure to buy. Artists love to show and chat about their work; it’s an opportunity to discover the creativity around you.

We also have group shows, some united by a theme. You can find your way around the festival using our fold-out map. These are available from Merton libraries, cafes, shops and pubs – or locate your first artist using the website and collect your copy there.

We do advise visitors to check the website and the fold-out map to see which artists are open on which weekend, to avoid disappointment. Many, but not all, are open both weekends.

2.Tell us about the theme of this year’s fair?
This year’s theme is Taking Liberties! We invited artists to interpret the theme however they liked.  Some artists have chosen to look at the historic links between the designer William Morris, the design company Liberty, and the borough (both had textile printworks at Merton Abbey Mills in the late 19th and early 20th century). Some were inspired by the centenary of the first votes for women in Britain. And some simply took liberties with art techniques and design principles. We have three shows – at Merton Arts Space (Wimbledon Library), Holy Trinity Church Wimbledon, and at Mitcham Library (the latter featuring the interpretation of the theme by kids at St Mark’s Primary in Mitcham).

3.Why is Merton such a great focal point for the fair and what makes Merton such an arty community?
There’s something in the air! We’ve got three studio complexes taking part – Cannizaro, Lombard Road and Phipps Bridge – so it’s possible to see lots of artists in one place. But we also have artists in unexpected venues like pubs (the Swan and the Hand in Hand in Wimbledon and the Sultan in Colliers Wood), libraries, and coffee shops.

4.What kinds of artists will be exhibiting?
We’ve got everyone from professional artists, to part-time artists, to art students, school children, and community art groups. Between them they cover the whole range of disciplines.

5.Tell us a bit more about the different styles of art we can expect to see?
We’ve got the whole gamut from serious and abstract to amusing and craft-y – drawing and painting of course, but also printmaking, jewellery, sculpture, ceramics, glass, textile art and illustration.

6.Whose art are you looking forward to seeing the most?
As the organiser I can’t have any favourites! However, this is the first time in three years of organising that I’ll be able to visit any studios myself, as I am only opening the second weekend. I’m going to challenge myself to get round as many venues as I can.

Five workshops to look out for at Merton Arts Fair

We have a double bill of talks by artists on Saturday 15 September, at Wimbledon Library, 1800-2000 – “Abstraction & Representation in Painting” and “The exchange of art and culture through the Silk Road”. Free entry.

Bea Jareno is running jewellery workshops at Lombard Road Studios, Merton: Sat 15, Sun 16, Sat 22, Sun 23, 11-1pm and 2-5pm – make a silver ring in three hours; two people per workshop, cost £100.  Book in advance on 07830 159745 or by e-mail on info@beajarenojewellery.com.

On Saturday 15 and Saturday 22, at Merton Abbey Mills, Leva Pazemeckaite is leading sketching of African masks – cost £2, no booking needed.

On Saturday 22 September, Wendy McTernan will lead a walk, starting at Morden Hall Park at 2pm and finishing at the Sultan pub, calling in on a number of studios on the way. Book in advance by calling 020 89465850 or texting 07783 518262.

On Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 September, at Lombard Road Studios, Emilia Radlinska and Clover Lee are demonstrating how to throw pots on the wheel, on the hour every hour from 11am to 4pm. If you fancy a go, for £10 they’ll provide tuition and will fire and glaze the pot for you (suitable for age 5 upwards).