The growth of the Margaret River Region Open Studios event during the past two years of COVID-19 disruptions has carried through into the new era of relaxed borders and the return of interstate travel. This year’s looming celebration of all things artistic boasts 167 exhibitors, including a whopping 43 first-time artists signing up for the event. Slated for September 10 to 25, MRROS will spread its wings from the Leeuwin coastline to the north of Busselton, with a full itinerary for art-lovers keen to get an inside peek into the region’s working artist studios. MRROS chairman Jim Davies said a diverse range of media would be available during this year’s exhibition. “We’ve been bowled over by the number of artist registrations this year,” he said. “We thought there might be some uncertainty due to COVID-19, but I suspect the desire to share beauty and creation is more important than ever before to our artists and community. “Our event has grown year-on-year and the word-of-mouth spreads through the artistic community.” Strong registrations from first-time exhibitors made for another record, while 16 stalwarts were now veterans of all nine years of Open Studios. While the Capes-wide exhibition features stunning examples of more conventional art, Open Studios was increasingly known for those practitioners venturing a little more outside of the box. Alongside the region’s painters, sculptors and photographers, this year the program features innovators such as milliner Kimberley Box, tattoo artist Karl Heussenstamm, surf artist Ian Daniell, furniture maker John Lee, and chainsaw artist Brendan Booth. Visitors will have the rare chance to catch these artists working in their native environments, with artist studios including family homes, renovated farm sheds, beach shacks, breweries and sea containers. Mr Davies said COVID-19 and war in Ukraine had “certainly influenced” the direction of many artists this year, with their focus turning “to home, nature and family”. “Living in the Margaret River region remains the most significant influence on our artists’ work – its sweeping coast, ocean, forest, vineyards, wildlife and natural beauty,” he said. Visit www.mrropenstudios.com.au for more.