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The Helfa Gelf Art Trail, North Wales’ Biggest Open Studio event, begins tomorrow with over 300 artists inviting visitors to experience their normally hidden world. It is a unique chance to chat to artists and craftspeople about their creative processes in their studio environment. We featured one artist last week in this article.

A wide range of talented artists and craftmakers in Gwynedd, Conwy, Flintshire, Denbighshire and Wrexham have their studios located in every imaginable kind of interesting venue, from garden sheds to galleries.

“The event is in its seventh year now and there is a fantastic array of studios to visit. We offer everything from the traditional crafts like basket, jewellery and lace-making to digital, installation and performance art. Regardless of whether you appreciate the more figurative style of work or enjoy contemporary art, we really feel there is something for everyone,” says Sabine Cockrill project coordinator for Helfa Gelf Art Trail.

Artists choose when to open their studios on the Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays this September from 11am to 5pm daily. To help to plan your free artistic adventure, ‘The Art Trail Map’, an online interactive guide, is available at www.helfagelf.co.uk. This includes information on studio locations, artists’ profiles, a gallery of images, directions to the studios, satellite maps, access information and opening times.

A Helfa Gelf Art Trail guide book is also widely available from local libraries, schools, tourist information centres, hotels, shops, galleries and Helfa Gelf Information Points. The guide book is free, containing information and inspiration to help visitors to plan their own art trail.

New this year there are six minibus tours available to visit different cluster groups of artists. The tours start off on Saturday, 8th September, in Denbighshire, on Saturday, 15th September, in the Conwy valley and mountains cluster, on Sunday, 16th September, it will be touring Northern Flintshire, on Saturday, 22nd September it will be in Southern Flintshire, on Saturday, 29th September, to the Wrexham cluster and on Sunday, 30th September, to the Northern Gwynedd cluster. Places on the tours are limited; to join the free bus tours and for more information please email sabine@helfagelf.co.uk.

New funding from project supporters has allowed the Helfa Gelf Art trail to include the minibus tours and drop-in workshops during the event. The Helfa Gelf Art Trail project has received funding through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007–2013, which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

The drop-in workshops allow visitors a hands-on artistic experience. During the event, eleven art and craft drop-in workshops will be held: at Parc Glynllifon near Caernarfon, Oriel Pendeitch in Caernarfon, Blue Earthworm Studios near Bodelwyddan, Bod Erw in Llandrillo, Oriel Rhosesmor near Northop and Tŷ Mawr Country Park near Chirk. These vary from mosaic, slate or textile workshops work to mono-printing and tiara making. Some are suitable for all the family and are a great addition to the experience of visiting studios. Further details of all the courses of all the courses are in the Helfa Gelf Brochure and on the website www.helfagelf.co.uk/events.

“Attending a drop-in workshop is a great way to understand a new artistic media. We run a very professional workshop programme at ‘Iard’ with some of our guest artists booked up for months. During Helfa Gelf, we are inviting visitors to ‘have a go’. Come and see what we do,” says Angela Evans, sterling silver and mixed-media jeweller, whose studio is based at ‘Iard’ Parc Glynllifon, near Caernarfon.

Visiting the artist next door or travelling wider afield, you are guaranteed to see something unique and have a great artistic experience in North Wales. “We welcome visitors to the Tithebarn Studios; we have much to offer here – go for a walk or have lunch. We have two wonderful hotels with great chefs in the village. You will find unexpected things here like our bridge, which is a sculpture in its own right, by Jim Heath,” said Rob Davies, photographer, based in Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, Wrexham.

Join the Helfa Gelf Art Trail by planning your visit at www.helfagelf.co.uk, picking up a guide book, joining a minibus tour or attending a drop-in workshop. Art and crafts are available to buy direct from the maker. The Helfa Gelf artists all offer a very warm welcome to those curious to find out what artists get up to in their studios or visitors wanting a chat to discuss the artistic process.

Join the trail 7–9 September, 14–16 September, 21–23 September and 281–30 September from 11am to 5pm daily.

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