In my line of work, I can fling a paintbrush in any direction and it will bounce off the shoulders of at least two painters. It’s not that I’m a particularly good shot; I just have the privilege and a pleasure to live and work in an environment surrounded by people who view the world that little bit differently. People who have no choice but to interpret and comment on their environment and, to our good fortune, add to it. These people are artists and by god there are a lot of them in Maidenhead.
After the demise of our art college, it was generally felt that Maidenhead’s visual arts were compromised. Certainly, the sight of portfolio-dragging students became a rarity. The visual arts seemed, well, less…visual. But despite this surface change, a dwindling presence of artists in Maidenhead couldn’t be further from the truth.
Creating celebrated communities of any kind is always tough. When you factor in that visual artists often work in isolation, then you have a real challenge to foster strength in numbers, which is often an essential way of giving groups of like-minded people a voice.
Good old social media, eh? What a bloody fantastic invention.
Networks of artists globally are coming together, but equally it’s happening on a local level through sites such as the Berkshire Artists Network. At Art on the Street we used it to shout our idea from the wobbly rooftops of Facebook and Twitter. We saw an on-line surge of creative voices that’s shaken up the visual arts in our town. Our artists are speaking loud and clear.
Their work fills up arts centres and pop-up shops, libraries and church halls, coffee shops and hotel foyers. They share their skills at classes and workshops. They open their homes and studios to art lovers. Twice a year a rather large group of them takes to the street. Every month I’ll be sharing their world with you.
Health and safety prevents me recommending throwing paintbrushes around, but I’m willing to bet that today yours would bounce off the shoulders of an artist or two too.