Opinion: ‘We all have a role to play in arts’

Cllr Julie Howell, leader of the Green Group on Peterborough City Council writes...

Sunday, 18th July 2021, 3:00 pm
Cllr Julie Howell and Tony Nero
Cllr Julie Howell and Tony Nero

A highlight of my year is the annual Peterborough Artists’ Open Studios.

Across the city and beyond, local artists working in a variety of media, from painting to sculpture and everything in between, open the doors to their homes or gardens to let the public view their work. You can even buy a treasure to appreciate at home.

Now in its 21st year, the event, which takes place over three weekends in June/July, was a little different this year due to the pandemic. How-ever, more than 80 artists still found a way to provide Covid-safe exhibitions. Those of us who love colour and creativity in our lives were once again able to enjoy the event, following its sad cancellation in 2020.

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I managed to visit 32 exhibitors this year, and bought work from several artists, including Colin Chapman, Tony Nero, Muni Arsalani, Prue Pye and Ali-Marie Black. It was fun to catch up with many of the artists whose work I’ve purchased in previous years, including Kay Hall, Jacki Cairns and Charron Pugsley-Hill.

The walls inside my home are a testament to Peterborough’s thriving art scene.

One of the reasons this event is such a lot of fun, is because it offers an opportunity to meet the people creating art in our city. They will gladly tell you about how their style has developed and may even be able to show you how they create their work. It’s also fun to explore areas of Peterborough you may never have visited before.

This year, the pieces I chose to buy are all very col-ourful. I don’t think I had quite appreciated how dark and dismal my outlook had become after nearly a year of shielding. These splashes of colour, brought together so creatively and in so many dif-ferent forms, will bring me happiness.

Much is written about the healing effects of art. ‘Art therapy’ has become a popular career option for creative people who realise the value of encouraging people to express their feelings or find their way out of trauma through art.

If you prefer art on a larger scale, you can enjoy the growing collection public art around our city that can be enjoyed at any time for free, from the gorgeous community mosaics created by Muni Arsalani (there’s a wonderful example at the Green Backyard on Oundle Road) or the world-famous portrait of the late Keith Flint of The Prodigy, created by Nathan Murdoch of Street Arts Hire, and which can be seen in the ‘Amazon Underpass’ off Frank Perkins Parkway.

Councillors like me have a role to play in the life of our city, and so do the hundreds of talented artists in Peterborough, who use their skills to tell the stories of our lives here. When Open Studios comes around again next summer, grab a brochure and make plans to visit as many as you can. You will be contributing to our local economy and helping Peterborough’s art scene grow.