Art in the Park 2008
Cheltenham’s Annual Open Air Art Exhibition
Every summer, for as long as many people can remember, Cheltenham has played host to the Open Air Art Exhibition. Set in the beautiful Imperial Gardens, opposite the prestigious Queens Hotel, the art exhibition shows the work of over 120 local artists. It has proven highly popular with local folk and tourists alike.
The success of the event is in no small part due to the remarkable talent on show. Over the years, the people of Cheltenham and the Cotswolds have enjoyed a sedate stroll along the length of the exhibition. It has become one of the summer traditions for shoppers visiting the town, and tourists to flock to. As a result, the exhibition is always over-subscribed by the artists, who range in experience from hobby painters right through to professional artists engaging directly with their public. This admixture of talent and style creates a colourful display, full of surprises and interest.
The exhibition is managed by a voluntary committee of artists from the area, and the event itself is run on a not-for-profit basis. Its aim is to provide an accessible interface between local artists and the public. As a result, the paintings on offer are available at prices very much lower than in the county’s commercial galleries. But it isn’t just the cost that makes the exhibition such an attraction. Accessibility of art is of paramount importance to those organising the event. The public can walk straight up to the exhibition from the town’s wonderful “Promenade”, and take as much time as they want wandering through.
Without doubt, the Cheltenham Open Air Art Exhibition is the most accessible art event in Gloucestershire, and brings art to the attention of many people who would not normally consider visiting a gallery.
For the artists, the Imperial Gardens are annually transformed into a mini-Montmartre. There is a chance to compare the work of many diverse talents; water-colourists, oil painters, and acrylic artists. Work varies from traditional Cotswold landscapes to portraiture and wildlife scenes. Some reproduce the work of Old Masters, others create colourful abstract work. The variety means that there is always something that appeals to everyone, and provides plenty of inspiration for the art of future years.
The 2008 Exhibition, our 39th, began and ended well, but suffered with very poor weather in the middle two weeks. Despite dwindling numbers of painting sales, attributable to the deplorable weather and the current economic difficulties, the art that was purchased at the event was of a very high standard, and this enabled the Exhibition to achieve its financial targets to maintain its ongoing viability. We are now looking forward to our 40th year celebrations in 2009.
If any of the artists would like me to put some of their photos from the 2008 Exhibition onto this page, please email me: