by Phillippa Goddard
Picture: Family Goddard, left to right: Terry, Emily, Jessica and Phillippa.
Our SEOS debut was in 2005. Despite having to fit art-making into the tiny spaces left after earning a living we’d produced enough over the years for a good display. So it was a three-handed ‘Retrospective’ with me, Terry and Emily. Jess was at university studying physics and otherwise occupied but, secretly, a bit miffed at missing out.
Last year marked 20 years since we had first exhibited together as ‘Family Goddard’ at the Kent Adult Education Centre in The Metropole, Folkestone (1988). We decided it was time to echo the theme and all four of us joined SEOS 2008.
This year we participated again. Terry took a back seat lending us his newly converted garage studio or ‘gardio’ (or should that be ‘stuage’?) to stage the event. Visitor numbers were slightly up while the takings were about the same as in previous years. Jess’s sculptural ‘ODDknits’ attracted much interest as she continued to experiment with small natural forms as well as her signature large knitted ammonites. Emily was top earner with giclée prints of her vibrant, detailed acrylic paintings proving popular. And I sold two paintings on the last day which pleased me greatly (Yes, there is an element of competition between us).
So why take part in SEOS? There are two huge advantages of being part of such a large and well-organised activity. Firstly, you will have an entry in THE BOOKLET. Secondly, visitors will come, including people you have never met before, to see your work because they have THE BOOKLET.
Our visitors told us that they looked out for venues with more than one artist so there would be more to see and choose from. Therefore, entering as part of a group makes sense. We are lucky in having four creatives in one family - an instant group. As artists we work with highly individual styles but are bound to be influenced by our life together. This manifests itself most obviously in choice of subject matter. The same object or environment may appeal to all of us and, while each person’s interpretation will differ, there may be an underlying unity. One day, perhaps in time for SEOS 2010, we will get round to that plan of choosing a single image as a common starting point. I predict the results will be different but, in some ways, the same. The only problem is agreeing on the starting point.
The aim of SEOS is primarily to show how and where you make your art. But, truth is, it costs a fee to take part and considerable time and effort to produce and present the work necessary. Therefore I feel it is not unreasonable to expect a return on the investment. So what form should this take?
Well, money from sales is always nice. This may sound a little mercenary but, bending over backwards to accommodate all pockets, our prices started this year at £1.80 for an individually produced card. Is it too much to expect people to shell out? They come to your house, enjoy the facilities, drink your coffee and (can you believe it?) sometimes leave without opening their purses. But the event is FREE to visitors and that is one of its big attractions so I must not whinge.
There are other valuable returns on the investment. The appreciative comments and compliments we receive are good for self-esteem. Participation and inclusion in THE BOOKLET has the effect of raising one’s profile as an artist. You become part of the wider art community with a regular newsletter and opportunities that can be followed up or not. For example, in September 2008 we presented ‘Along Family Lines’, an exhibition of work with a strong linear element by the four of us at the Ripley Arts Centre, Bromley. This came as a direct result of our entries in THE BOOKLET. Our exhibition featured Terry’s cut and painted wooden reliefs, my Indian ink resists, Emily’s interwoven images in ink and acrylic and Jessica’s cut paper work. It has to be said this was not a financial success but the show looked fantastic.
For us, the overall SEOS experience has been positive and hugely enjoyable. Opportunities and suggestions, ideas and leads come from interfacing with interested members of the public and newly formed contacts. Sharing knowledge and skills is part of SEOS ethos and we all benefit; but just sometimes an encounter can leave you feeling as if your ideas and creativity are being sucked out and taken away, almost stolen …. So you need to be a little careful.
Finally, here are a few of my best tips for a successful SEOS
Have I whetted your appetite? Why not share the experience with us? We look forward to having the pleasure of your company next time either as a visitor or a fellow participant. And I won’t moan if you don’t buy anything. Promise!
To see our work go to www.familygoddard-art.moonfruit.com
Pictures of the Family Goddards' 2009 Open Studio can be seen here
This article first appeared in the Folkestone Art Society Autumn Journal 2009