Buy locally this Christmas - Making Merry Open Studios is back

The City Council’s annual Making Merry Open Studios event will launch this Friday 20 November. The event, which runs until Sunday 29 November, will see many of Winchester’s artists and craft makers opening their studios to the public in the lead up to Christmas; giving visitors a chance to purchase locally-produced Christmas gifts. This year, more artists than ever will be welcoming visitors to their galleries, studios and homes.


Over 30 open studios located in Winchester and the picturesque market towns and villages across the district will open their doors to offer visitors a selection of contemporary and traditional art and craft items such as fused glass jewellery, digital imagery, and exquisite textiles. Witness creativity in action as some artists and craft-makers offer demonstrations, often with mulled wine and mince pies for their visitors. Visitors interested in creating their own works of art can find out useful tricks of the trade and ask plenty of questions.


As well as the usual favourites - such as Jan Griffiths in North Boarhunt who specialises in sculptural ceramics using a ‘raku’ firing process, and her colleague Dee McNamara who fuses glass with a modern twist - this year’s open studios event will also see items from new artists and craft-makers including silversmith Olivia Lowe and jeweller Lindsey Mann who set up their studio in Warnford earlier this year. Celia Lowthion in Allbrook will be offering a range of affordable gifts including jewellery, mobiles, mirrors, vases, textiles and cards - many made from recycled materials. The Yard Artists in Winchester invite visitors to view their exciting range of contemporary sculpture and 3-D work as well as paintings and drawings.


This year, the Making Merry Exhibition will be returning to Winchester Discovery Centre’s City Space from 14 November until 3 January 2010, with an enticing display of unusual and eye-catching gifts at a range of prices. Browse at your leisure and forget the crowds on the High Street whilst purchasing that special Christmas gift from a selection of paintings, photographs, jewellery, glassware and ceramics.


Rachel Gander, Tourism Marketing and Development Officer at Winchester City Council, commented: “The growing popularity of this event is testament to the quality of the art and craft items on sale and the unique shopping experience Making Merry Open Studios offers to its increasing number of visitors. The opportunity to talk to artists and craft-makers about their work makes the purchase all the more special. I would urge anyone who has not tried this way of Christmas shopping before to give it a go.”


Winchester City Council’s Leader with Portfolio for Economy and Tourism, Cllr George Beckett, said: “At a time when we are all keen to ‘buy local’, it is reassuring to know that every item on display has been made by a local artist or craft-maker. Making Merry raises the profile of the very significant artistic talent in our district.  It also supports the local economy by encouraging shoppers from Winchester and further afield to go out on a festive voyage of discovery of our charming towns and villages. I can’t think of a more pleasant or relaxing way to solve the annual Christmas gift problem.”


A full list of participating venues, opening arrangements and access for visitors with disabilities can be found in the free Making Merry Open Studios brochure available from Winchester Tourist Information Centre, (telephone 01962 840 500 or email, open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm), City Museum in The Square or the Discovery Centre in Jewry Street. Alternatively, download a copy from the website


For details of some of the artists exhibiting in the Making Merry exhibition look for the ‘Visit me in City Space’ logo in the Making Merry brochure. The exhibition is open Monday to Friday , Saturday and Sunday .  Admission is FREE.