• Banner4a
  • Banner2
  • Banner3
  • Banner5
  • banner1a

The back story: our first 20 years

The four weekends of Open Studios represent a major voluntary commitment driven by a collective of professional local artists.  Piecing together Open Studio's past is work in progress with help of many involved.  Here is the story of how it began:

Button for back storyTwenty years ago artists opened their doors to visitors as part of its first art trail in and around Marlborough, and indeed first art trail in Wiltshire. As is so often the case with community based schemes that endure, the back story is about seeds sown in well prepared ground combined with other opportunities and enthusiastic individuals.  In this case the land was well cultivated by local artists that gradually came together under the umbrella of a new festival for Marlborough nearly 30 years ago. 

The first show with a direct open studio pedigree was part of the Marlborough Music & Arts Festival, a charity founded by a group of twenty towns’ folk in early 1986, led by newly elected Marlborough mayor, Nick Fogg.

NICK FOGG photo Mark Somerville web

Nick Fogg, founder of Marlborough Music & Arts Festival in 1986

Nick had promised, if elected, to set up a festival "which would culturally enhance and do justice to this historic market town that earned its Royal Charter in 1204". The first festival hosted twenty events and included a 'Saturday of Artists at Work' in a marquee in Priory Gardens by the River Kennet behind the High Street.  This was organised by Karon Staniland, a well established artist, had been running the Bajazzo Gallery and classes in Marlborough until 1989.   The ‘Artists at Work’ event was a great idea but too exhausting to repeat in a marquee, and so the 'visual' in the arts festival lay fallow until 1985. 

GILL REEVES photo Mark Somerville web

Gillian Reeve, Fabric picture, Decorative art - Founding organiser of MOSin 1985

Eight years later Aldbourne artist, Gillian Reeve, approached Nick Fogg with an 'Open Studios' idea. Gill had been inspired by her recent visit to Newbury Open Studios (now called ‘Open Studios in West Berkshire and North Hampshire’). Thus Gill became our founding organiser in 1995, networking furiously with local artists helped by Jill Moxey. They pulled together a band of 12 founding artists.  From then on 'Open Studios' became a major annual feature of the Festival programme.

By 1993 the Music and Arts Festival had already morphed into the high profile three-day Jazz Festival thanks to the first appearance of the Jools Holland Big Band. From its early days until 2002 Open Studio artists designed the Festival programme covers and posters, and continued to be promoted jointly.  Invariably referred to by organisers as "MOSS" (Marlborough Open Studios Scheme), it remained 'Open Studios' on the cover until 2003 when 'Marlborough Open Studios' first appeared on the brochure cover, shortly followed by a stylish logo in 2005.

The first brochure evolved from a simple foldaway black and white A3 sheet, to a glossy colour A5 booklet, sometimes with a map insert, or an elaborate foldout cover as it is now, always beautifully designed. These are displayed in the scrollling header above.

Since its inception a friendly working relationship flourished with the White Horse Bookshop, thanks to its then owner, Michael Pooley.  For several years samples of artists' work were displayed upstairs usually accompanied by a launch event on the last Sunday in June with the added attraction of a local celebrity.  

Open Studios has evolved and been very innovative, but its roots 20 years on are recognisable, several of the original dozen still exhibiting.  All succeeding years are summarised in the timeline here. The scheme, now well established, attracts several thousand visitors annually, locally and from afar.

MOS? Or is it OS? 

The name for the enlarged area has been problematic, especially for those in Devizes, Calne, and Pewsey.  Although Marlborough is in the centre of the catchment area, encouraging a greater sense of relevance outside Marlborough is less straight forward.  MOS members considered a name change and have agreed to use 'Open Studios' widely, without losing the MOS logo, emphasising the local towns on brochure covers and publicity material.  No doubt the discussion will continue!

Saluting our MOS pioneers 1995

Portraits of many of the founding artists and Nick Fogg have been compiled this year by Mark Somerville, photographer and former MOS chairman (2008-12). Mark’s gallery of portraits will be exhibited at the Wellington Arms, Marlborough from now to the end of July.

SIMON BRETT photo Mark Somerville web

Simon Brett, Printmaker
ALISON EDMONDS photo Mark Somerville web 
Alison Edmonds, Photography, Ceramics and Textiles
SUSAN KIRKMAN photo Mark Somerville web
Susan Kirkman, Painting and Printmaking
PATTY MEDLIN photo Mark Somerville web
Patty Medlin, Painter 
ARRAN MILES photo Mark Somerville web
Arran Miles, Drawings 
IAN PRAGLEY photo Mark Somerville web
Ian Prangley, Ceramics and Mixed media
LIZ SCOTT photo Mark Somerville web
Elizabeth Scott, Painter and Landscapes
Meryl Setchell Ainsley Mark Somerville web
Meryl Setchell Ainslie, Drawings and Sculpture
JEANNETTE THERRIEN photo Mark Somerville web
Jeannette Therrien, Ceramics and Glass
JULIET WOOD photo Mark Somerville web
Juliet Wood, Painter
Other founding artists who could not be included in the photography project were: 
  • Trevor Chaplin, Studio potter
  • Jan Gale, Ceramics/Mixed media
  • Jill Moxey, who was a co-founder but non-exhibiting artist
  • Sue Reynolds, Ceramics and print
  • Gay Whimster, Relief prints and painting
  • Also on show at Ramsbury Fine Art were paintings and prints by Lady Margaret Myddleton, Jonathan Pomroy and Terence Round 

And the long service award goes to...

medallion small webMany founding artists still exhibit regularly, and four are exhibiting 20 years on: Susan KirkmanArran MilesGillian Reeve and Jeannette Therrien, whilst Meryl Setchel Ainslie was an associate.  

However the long service award goes jointly to Susan Kirkman and Arran Miles who have exhibited every year since 1995 without missing a beat! A well deserved virtual medallion.  

CREDITS for 20 years of sponsors          

Funding the costs of a free event is a perennial trial.  MOS has relied on sponsors almost from the outset, notably the former Kennet District Council, Robert Hiscox, David Owen & Co, Katharine House Gallery, Woolley & Wallis, David Dudley,  Brewin Dolphin, Margaret Maxwell, Benchmark Woodworking and the Arts Council South West, which are now channelled through Wiltshire Council.

OS Brochure 1998 Sponsors web       OS Brochure 2001 sponsors web      OS Brochure sponsors 2016 web

Costs of producing the brochure increased and regular advertisers began to appear from 2005. From 2015 we have reverted to a relatively ad-free brochure thanks to our first lead sponsor Smiths Gore (incorporated with Savills), and now David Dudley with three lead supporters (Benchmark, Clark Holt and Kim Vine) as well as fifteen corporate supporters. These include Wiltshire Council's arts development fund. 

The advent of Friends of Open Studios helps with niche projects such as this history project, volunteers for initiatives such as Special Open Days and the FOS Newsletter.

Button for back story





History project for Friends of Open Studios - Kate Freeman

Archives - Arran Miles with Susan Kirkman

Artists' Portraits - Mark Sommerville

Banner - Christopher Hazelwood

Web development - Chris Franklin




  • Paul Oakley

    Paul Oakley

  • Debbie Blount

    Debbie Blount

  • Brian Devonshire

    Brian Devonshire

  • Simone Dawood

    Simone Dawood

    Preview Show
  • Jacqui Melhuish

    Jacqui Melhuish

  • Stephen Davis

    Stephen Davis

  • Mary Wilkinson

    Preview Show
  • Sylvia Wyatt

    Friends of Open Studios

    Diana Neale - PHOTOGRAPHY

    18 The Hollow, CHIRTON, Wilts, United Kingdom, SN10 3QP

    Read more

    Susie Biggleston - PHOTOGRAPHY

    Court Farm, Heddington, Wiltshire, SN11 0PN

    Read more

    Jenny Papé & Pru Swindles - PAINTING & DRAWING

    Mallards, Chirton, Devizes, Wiltshire, SN10 3QX

    Read more

    Paul Oakley - PAINTING

    16 The Street, All Cannings, Wiltshire, SN10 3PA

    Read more

    Jacqui Melhuish, Kate Wade, Mary Thorne, Jane Renwick, Michelle Smith

    WAGON YARD ARTISTS. GLASS, PAINTING, CERAMICS, TEXTILES Wagon Yard, Unit M, London rd, Marlborough, Wilts, SN8 1LH

    Read more

    Alan Cowley - PHOTOGRAPHY

    Roundway House Farm, Roundway, Devizes, Wiltshire, SN10 2HZ

    Read more

    Susan Kirkman & Arran Miles - PAINTING, DRAWING & PRINTMAKING

    Witcha Cottage, Ramsbury, Wiltshire, SN8 2HQ

    Read more

    Bryan Hanlon - PAINTING, SCULPTURE

    Keepers Cottage, Hodson, Wiltshire, SN4 0QG

    Read more


    Rowde Court Studios, Marsh Lane, Rowde, Devizes, Wiltshire, SN10 2NW

    Read more

    Clive Wilson - PAINTING

    North Denford Farm, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 0PS

    Read more

    Caen Hill Locks

    Excellent View with Cafe

    Wiltshire Heritage Center

    Read more

    Adam's Grave Walk

    Excellent Views and White Horse.

    Avebury Stone Circle

    Vast and ancient stone cirle. Manor House and National Trust shop.

    Clyffe Pypard Church

    Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, the German-born British scholar of history of art final resting place.

    Kings Arms

    Kings Arms All Cannings SN10 3PA

    Silbury Hill

    The largest man-made mound in Europe.

    The Food Gallery

    Excellent Cafe often showcasing MOS artist's work.

    Crofton Beam Engines

    The steam-powered pumping station is preserved and operates on selected weekends

    Savernake Forest

    Truly a beautiful place just on the fringe of Marlborough.

    The Bell Pub

    Modern British restaurant serves the best of British seasonal cuisine.

    Littlecote House Hotel

    Take a house tour or stop for tea and cake.

    Wilton Windmill

    Wilton Windmill is the only working windmill in Wessex and still produces wholemeal, stone-ground flour.

    Hungerford Village

    Lots of eateries, galleries and cafes.

    St. Nicolas Church.

    The chocolate box village of Sandy Lane has a well-preserved, rare thatched church.

    The Ridgeway

    A Great walk. The Ridgeway is a ridgeway or ancient trackway described as Britain's oldest road.

    Rabley Drawing Centre

    Center that holds excellent standard exhibitions.

    The Harrow

    Michelin starred Restuarant.

    Read more

    Iain Gutteridge - STAINED GLASS

    6 The Ivies, Manningford Bruce, Pewsey, SN9 6JH

    Read more

    Simone Dawood - PAINTING

    The Studio, Merrythatch, Bushton, SN4 7PX

    Read more

    Nick & Cathy Pearce - POTTERY, PAINTING

    Poppins, 73 Netherstreet, Bromham, SN15 2DW

    Read more

    John Harris DIP AD MSIA - PAINTING

    Beards Cottage, Spirthill, Nr. Calne, Wiltshire, SN11 9HW

    Read more

    Charles Rodwell - PAINTING, DRAWING

    Leasview Cottage, Charlcutt, Wiltshire, UK, SN11 9HH

    Read more

    Stephen Davis - PHOTOGRAPHY

    2-3 St John's Alley, Devizes, Wiltshire, United Kingdom, SN10 1BG

    Read more

    The Crown Pub

    Special events and great food at the lovely pub.

    Read more

    The White Horse Pub

    Delicious Home Cooked Traditional Great Food

    Read more

    Calne Heritage Center

    The Calne Heritage Centre tells the story of Calne and its surrounding areas through a series of display boards around the Centre supported by interactive computer systems, pictures and artefacts

    Read more

    Hackpen Hill

    See the white horse, incredible view and join the ridgway walk.

    The Duke Hotel

    The Duke is now the perfect place to enjoy good food and quality overnight accommodation in the heart of the beautiful Wiltshire countryside.

    Mary Wilkinson, Rebecca Spicer

    PAINTING and Drawing The Studio, Minal Woodlands House, Mildenhall, MARLBOROUGH, SN8 2NH

    Read more

    Normandy Barcelo-Soto - PAINTING, SCULPTURE

    Truant House, Froxfield, Marlborough, Wiltshire, United Kingdom, SN8 3JY

    Read more


    Watercolour Illustration Avant Garde Art and Craft Supplies 27A Church Street Calne Wiltshire SN11 0HY

    Read more

    Bryony Cox - DRAWING & PAINTING

    Upstairs at Jacks 40 Market Place Devizes Wiltshire SN10 1JG

    Read more

    Georgina Potter - PAINTING

    Georgina Potter The Studio Hillview Trow Lane Nr Tockenham SN15 4DL

    Read more

    Sally Osborne - CERAMICS

    Sally Osborne Bridge House All Cannings SN10 3NR

    Read more

    Jonathan Mansfield - PAINTING

    Jonathan Mansfield The Sheds Church Road Stanton St Bernard SB8 4LP

    Read more

    Lisi Ashbridge & Deborah Husk - SCULPTURE & PHOTOGRAPHY

    The Manor Alton Priors Marlborough Wiltshire SN8 4JX

    Read more

    Pascale Stacey - PAINTING

    Pascale Stacey Greystones Green Street Avebury Marlborough SN8 1RE

    Read more

    Liz Moakes - CERAMICS

    Liz Moakes Marlborough House Broad Hinton SN4 9PA

    Read more

    Anna Simmons - PAINTING

    Anna Simmons 1 Woodborough Road Pewsey Wiltshire SN9 5NH

    Read more

    Tom Hiscocks - SCULPTURE

    Tom Hiscocks The Fred Baier Studio 5A High Street Pewsey SN9 5AF

    Read more

    Aly Storey - TEXTILES

    Aly Storey Pink House Studio 6 Southcott Road Pewsey SN9 5JG

    Read more

    Jane Nicholas-Barne - PAINTING & DRAWING

    Jane Nicholas-Barne 33 High Street Pewsey Wiltshire SN9 5AF

    Read more

    Laura Kirkpatrick - PAINTING

    Laura Kirkpatrick The Studio Meadowview Cottage New Mill Pewsey SN9 5LD

    Read more

    Alison Bowyer & Ann Louise Smith - GLASS & WIRE SCULPTURE, MIXED MEDIA & PAINT

    17 Edwards Meadow Marlborough Wiltshire SN8 1UL

    Read more

    Rebecca Spicer & Mary Wilkinson - PAINTING & DRAWING

    The Studio Minal Woodlands House Minal Woodlands SN8 2NH

    Read more

    Nigel Hudson & Ian Bond - PHOTOGRAPHY & WOODCARVING

    The Wharf Frog Lane Great Bedwyn Marlborough SN8 3PB

    Read more

    Jeremy Wyatt - JEWELLERY & METALWORK

    2 Mill Close Great Bedwyn SN8 3PJ

    Read more

    Paul Swan - WOOD

    Kimberley Cottage Burdett Street Ramsbury SN8 2QX

    Read more


    The Fustain Store Studio 23 The Green Aldbourne SN8 2EN

    Read more

    Kareen Jackson - PAINTING & WOOD

    2 Birchhouse Barley Fields Baydon SN8 2NF

    Read more

    Diccon Dadey - SCULPTURE

    The Studio The Barn at Inholmes Woodlands St Mary Berks RG17 7SU

    Read more

    Jane Corbett - GLASS

    1 New Hayward Farm Cottage Hungerford Berkshire RG17 0PZ

    Read more

    Claire & Sue Acworth - JEWELLERY & PAINTING

    Little Hidden Farm Hungerford Berks RG17 0PN

    Read more


    The Croft Hungerford Berks RG17 0HY

    Read more


    Anne Hayhoe 19 Walnut Close Pewsey Wiltshire SN9 5QS

    Read more