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Friday 16th April 2004
'Open Hand Open Space', but Closed Door?
By Linda Serck
Artist Tris Aver
Artist Tris Aver at Open Hand Open Space.

Art studio and gallery Open Hand Open Space is a valuable part of the Reading community: holding workshops, exhibitions and educational projects as well as nurturing talented artists from Reading.
But now they are facing closure unless they find new premises.




Tris Aver: Cooper Temple Clause album art


Open Hand Open Space

Tris Aver


Turner Prize: Cornelia Parker


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A group of artists are appealing for a new home after their Victorian studios off the Oxford Road, Reading, are being closed down.

Mass (Colder Darker Matter) by Cordelia PArker. Photo courtesy of Tate Photgraphy
Mass (Colder Darker Matter) 1997 - Cornelia Parker. Photo courtesy of Tate Photography
Open Hand Open Space was set up by a group of university students in the 1980s and has nurtured artists such as Cornelia Parker, who was shortlisted for the 1997 Turner Prize.

It now houses artists from Reading who are trying to carve out a career for themselves while also throwing open the studios for educational projects.

There is no other studio like it in Reading. It is the last studio standing following the news that other art studio gallery The Jelly Legg'd Chicken, based in the Oracle, is also going.

Funded by Arts Council England, South East Arts and Reading Borough Council, the OHOS building near the Brock Barracks has been deemed unsafe with an unpayable £540,000 reparation bill.

Artist Leanne Narewsky standing by art by fellow OHOS artist Emily Smeaton
Artist Leanne Narewsky standing before art by fellow OHOS artist Emily Smeaton.
But if OHOS can't find a new home then supporting and encouraging young talented artists in Reading will be a thing of the past.

At the moment OHOS provides affordable studios for around 13 to 16 artists and runs a regular programme of events, exhibitions and educational activities.

The gallery and studios are committed to promoting visual arts and artists without a commercial emphasis. The art on display is purely for the sake of art, not for selling.

Projects include Taking P@rt, an educational scheme developed with Reading Borough Council and other arts organisations in the area. Artists undertook workshops in the community that led to two exhibitions in the Jelly Legg'd Chicken gallery.

OHOS artist Elaine Binns
OHOS artist Elaine Binns
Visiting artist Daro Montag held a Stalking Nature workshop for Maiden Erlegh school students in Reading. Pupils explored Daro's methods of making art using the gallery's location, and pawprints of small pets to create computer generated prints.

Artists also visit BT employees once a month to run a one hour creativity workshop, and the studio participates in creating a sensory garden with Reading Day Opportunities.

Talks, seminars and workshops provide ideal opportunities for the public to gain a greater understanding about contemporary visual art.

Big international artists such as Douglas Gordon and Andy Goldsworthy have also exhibited at OHOS.

BBC Berkshire went along to the opening of latest exhibition by Brian Haddock and Mike Picknett called Heliocentricity.

Still from Heliocentricity by Brian Haddock and Mike Picknett.
Description is as follows: The awesome brutality and immense violence of the sun is transformed into a melodic, wondrous dance in the work, 'Heliocentricity'. Using real time footage of events of the sun, captured by SOHO artist Brian D. Haddock has created a sensuous film that when combined with the music of Mike Picknett, reveals the true beauty and magnificence of our parent star.

Other exhibitions planned but that may be cancelled are those of three Canadian artists, Risa Horiwitz, Marc Mullin and Dianne Bos.

If you can help or suggest any new premises, please email
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