ON Friday June 23, the Dean Heritage Centre was abuzz with over 100 people attending the preview party for the farOpen (Forest & Rivers) Summer Exhibition which celebrated the start of the upcoming Open Studios Art Trail July 1-9, writes Charlotte Keating.

The exhibition itself has a diverse display of work from 28 farOpen professional artists exhibited in the gallery room and throughout the cafe, offering a taster of what can be found during Open Studios event July 1st-July 9.

Drinks and a generous buffet were appreciated by the audience who mingled together on the verandah chatting about art and enjoying the balmy evening sunshine. The terrace overlooked the forest backed pond where the heron mirrored the standing pose of Sara Delahoy’s lino cut print of a Heron on display in the cafe gallery.

The atmosphere was buoyant and glamorous with a mixture of artists and collectors viewing the work and admiring the professional quality of artwork for sale and the hanging of the exhibition.

There was a warm sense of community spirit in support of these local artists and much praise for the high profile social media campaign which has been promoting the event and keeping it in the public eye.

Many visitors commented that they were now looking forward to exploring the trail after seeing exhibit and getting a feel of the diversity of work to explore.

farOpen Marketing Lead and contemporary painter Charlotte Keating spent the night flitting between her collectors, art students and press, confidently expressing the inspiration and processes which influence her work and the meditative effect of healing through art whilst also chatting about the upcoming art trail and the route guides which help visitors explore by geographical area.

Chair of farOpen Uschi Arens Price was absolutely thrilled by the support and enthusiasm for the evening preview and opens studios event, proud to have been part of organising the event which has been steadily growing in size under the leadership of a dedicated team of volunteers. Her bold, organic silver jewellery will be sold exclusively through this summer exhibition.

The evening was a resounding success with many pieces of artwork sold on the night including a large moon gazing hare by Maz Balaam, tiny ceramic badgers by Jane Spray , colourful mugs by Kate Baugh, driftwood art by Grace Engel plus many prints and cards.

Lisa Dear, head of brochure distribution and mixed media artist said: “It’s so wonderful seeing so many people here tonight knowing that we’ve also distributed 12000 brochures across the region to bring in many more visitors to support our artists during our key event of the year. “

She added: “The chance to celebrate the talent of the farOpen members at the first Open Studios preview event at Dean Heritage Centre was a honour to be involved in and also great fun!”

Exhibiting artists: Catherine Hawkridge, Charlotte Keating, Lisa Dear Artworks, Uschi Arens Price, Christine Waygood, Deborah Phelps Gane, Dirk Van Der Meyden, Dorota Rapacz, Gina Nell, Grahame Morgan-Watson, Helen Crawford, Jane Spray, Jane Jones, Jane Simmonds, Jeanette Hannaby, Jennie Blunt, Joanne Callaghan, Kate Baugh, Laura Liddell, Lynne Allnatt, Maz Balaam, Nicky Kent, Nicole Iredale, Pamela Moolman, Sara Ulyatt, Delartful Designs, Su Griffin, Bara Creative Studio, Grace Engel.

The farOpen Summer Exhibition at the Dean Heritage Centre is open until July 9, daily 11am - 3pm. For more information about the exhibition and open studios trail, visit www.faropen.co.uk.