Artists across the region have been given a hurry-up as registrations close for this year’s Margaret River Region Open Studios event. The annual celebration of artists in their home spaces between Augusta and Busselton starts on September 11 and runs for two weeks with a revised spring timing after the tumultuous events of 2020. Chairman Jim Davies told the Times more than 100 artists opened their studio doors to visitors last year and it was the festival’s most successful year yet. “We recorded a 50 per cent growth in studio visits, with more than 65,000 visits, more than $1 million worth of art was sold, patrons visited an average of 8.3 studios each, and 55 per cent of visitors purchased art,” he said. He encouraged artists of all media to get involved in 2021 for what he said promised to be an equally big — if not bigger — event. Most of the artists are expected to be returning registrations, with painters, sculptors and mixed-media dabblers telling the Times the festival was a great way to raise their profiles. The eighth iteration of Open Studios included Leon Pericles, Martine Perret, Rachel Coad, Carmen McFaull, Emily Jackson, and Karl Heussenstamm. Painter Elizabeth Whiteman confirmed she was all ready to return this year. “I’ll be back at The Farm, Margaret River, on Burnside Road, along with photographer Martine Perret,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the quiet winter months to hibernate and paint in preparation for the spring event. “Holding Open Studios in the spring suits me really well as I paint more during winter.” Joining the festival after a two-year hiatus is local oil painter Alice Linford-Forte. She told the Times she would focus on producing a few smaller pieces of work this year to complement her bigger canvases inspired by recent travels. “The main effect COVID-19 has had on my art is that it’s kept me here in Margaret River and allowed me a whole lot of extra studio time,” she said. “I’m slowly building a collection of Aussie-inspired works, which is nice.” The artist is known for her large-scale, wide-brushed oil paintings which dip between realism and the abstract. “My approach to painting has always been to feel my way around intuitively and spontaneously,” she said. “I’ve learnt to be more patient in my method, applying layers slowly and methodically. “My usual abstract works consist of bright colours, stark contrasts and negative space, drawing the eye to the areas of detail. “Recent trips to the North West, south coast and Tasmania will likely feature in this year’s event.” Registrations close on March 31. Visit mrropenstudios.com.au to get involved or contact art@mrros. com.au.