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During my tour of Fife, I found it strangely reassuring to walk up to a studio and see milk bottles by the front door, or washing hanging on the line. Being invited into someone’s creative space is an endearingly intimate experience, both for the public and for the artists. As Aileen Clarke explained, “It really feels quite vulnerable, to let people in to see where you work and how you do things. It’s very different from doing a craft fair, or having your work in a gallery.” It was clear that Aileen’s visitors respected this – I met a couple who had travelled up from Edinburgh just to meet Aileen after being inspired by her work. It is stories like this which make us realise just how much creativity impacts our lives.

Jewellery designer Dot Sim, who

shared her Newport studio for the weekend with ceramicist Susan Basham and painter Jan Williamson, agrees that teaching others, rather than just selling to them, is important. “It’s a great idea for people to meet the artists and learn a bit about our craft” Dot said. “I’ve had lots of people signing up to my jewellery workshops as a result of this event.”

Organiser Alison Strachan, herself a talented artist, was delighted with the way the event went. “A lot of hard work went into this year,” she said, “and it really has paid off. We’ve had more media interest than before, and visitor numbers are definitely up on last year’s event. Some artists had over 400 visitors over the three days. The feedback I’ve had so far from the public has been fantastic, and local businesses have also benefited from

so many people visiting the area.”

The ethos behind NFOS is simple – to promote the talented people of North Fife and give the public a chance to meet them and see where they create their work. Alison is adamant that this will remain the focus of NFOS, despite the pressure to branch out in other directions. “We are very different from other art festivals,” said Alison, “and we want to remain that way.”

I for one applaud NFOS for making art more accessible by bringing it within reach of the general public. So next time you see an open studios event in your area, go along and support it – not only is it a chance to step into the real world of creative people, but it’s a way to bring people and art that much closer together. A worthwhile

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