Bow Arts plans ‘open studio’ day to confound critics on its 20th birthday

Exhibition by Bow Arts earlier this month at its Rum Factory gallery in Wapping's London Dock

Exhibition by Bow Arts earlier this month at its Rum Factory gallery in Wapping's London Dock - Credit: Bow Arts Trust

A prestigious arts education trust in London’s East End is holding its 20th anniversary birthday bash next month with the public being let in to peek behind the scenes—despite critics once predicting such things would flop.

The ‘open studio’ evening and an open day next day at Bow Arts Trust’s Nunnery studios in the Bow Road is set to be one of the big events on the arts education calendar where the public can meet the best young artists in London.

“I was told 19 years ago that ‘open studios’ were dead and there was no interest,” Bow Arts chief executive Marcel Baettig reveals.

“Well, nearly 100,000 visitors on from 1996, ‘open studios’ are very much alive!

“Audiences get bigger every year and the standard of work continues to impress the public, collectors and curators alike.”

The open evening on June 19 and the Saturday open day the next afternoon features 150 artists and designers, pop-up bars, local street food, a designer-maker market and live music.

An exhibition of work from Bow Arts Education is planned in the Carmelite café, as well as family workshops.

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A guided walking tour is also being mapped out, linking Bow to the newly-planned ‘Olympicopolis’ arts college campus at the Olympic Park, as part of next month’s London Festival of Architecture.

This year also sees the return of the Bow Open Show at the Nunnery, a former convent, an exhibition selecting the best work from 400 artists who currently have studios, live and work in East London and carry out education projects with Bow Arts.

Gallery director Rosamond Murdoch said: “I’m hoping for some politically and socially engaged curation. The intimate setting of the former convent is perfect for showing the work of our talented artists.”

She is joined by guest curator Dr Shahidha Bari, Lecturer in Romanticism from the nearby Queen Mary’s University at Mile End, who is helping her select works of art to create the exhibition.

Bow Open Studios 2015 runs 6-9pm Friday evening, June 19, and Saturday 1-5pm, June 20, at 183 Bow Road, near Bow Road Underground and Bow Church DLR stations.