A scan of the map in the Margaret River Region Open Studios brochure reveals just how many skilled artists work in the area.
Over 130 dots, scattered from Busselton to Augusta, define the studios and galleries of creative types throughout the Cape.
The Starfish was only in the area for a few hours, but managed to come across some wonderful works and people on our whirlwind tour.
Now in its fifth year, the Open Studios programme allows the public and arts aficionados to meet and talk with the artists, learn their secrets, explore techniques in numerous mediums, admire the works, take part in workshops, and maybe even get to buy a piece or two.
We plotted out a route, taking in as many sites as time would allow, and hit the road.
Here are just a handful of the places we visited.
At Jahroc Galleries in the heart of Margaret River, three artists – Liv Vardy, David Giles and Lauren Rudd – have works spread among the multi-award-winning wood furniture of Gary Bennett and David Paris.
Just up the road at The Clay House, long-time Margs resident Jo Broadhurst can be found working on one of his fabulous quirky sculptures.
He’s been fashioning the figure of an Australian surf lifesaver while waiting for another piece, a fisherman in a boat, to set. Many of his works have a humorous Australiana theme.
“My figurative sculptures are all hand made ceramic pieces,” he says. “I’ve also been making some interesting birdbaths of late. The pieces are made for both indoor and outdoor display.”
Meanwhile over at the Margaret River Gallery, also situated in town, you’ll find some fascinating smaller jewellery pieces by local artisan Salli Coppin.
“I have an innate desire to create,” she says. “I love to explore, to play and see what emerges.
“My body of work in Open Studios is a diverse selection of pieces from each series I have created to give viewers an insight into my design and creative processes.”
In the countryside west of town, you’ll find the Melting Pot Studio, creative vortex of renowned glass artist, Gerry Reilly.
The Starfish found the chap hard at it making some commissioned ornamental pieces for Dampier Sands.
Gerry’s hot glass practice combines dynamic sculpture commissions, funky lighting, graceful vases and platters, vibrant drink-ware, tableware and collectables.
His glass blowing workshops, Blow Your Own Bauble, have been a hit during the event, allowing visitors to walk away with their own creation. It’s just $50 for a rare experience directed by a master of the art.
Leaving the heat of the kiln behind we swung up to Howard Park Wines at Wilyabrup, where a suspended floral installation, Natural Art of Flowers, by Rebecca Grace dominates the cellar sales space.
Alongside her delightful ethereal flora works is a selection of colourful canvases by artist-in-residence Mirella Prolongeau.
Mirella explores beauty through nature, narrative and movement, creating works using acrylics, inks, charcoal and watercolours. The effect is a unique and mesmerising style.
Over at Hay Shed Hill winery, check out the lovely evocative pieces by painter and printmaker Caroline Juniper.
“I’m inspired by the history scattered on the outskirts of towns,” she says. “The old homesteads and machinery crumbling away, the rust and peeling paint and pre-loved gardens.”
Heading north up the Cape, hit the back roads to the east for a taste of a real bush studio, at Karen Seaman’s delightful property at Boallia.
“I’m inspired by nature in my art,” she says. “At present I’m just as interested in the world of the underground, as I am on the surface.
“Working with ecological themes, I explore the connections we make with different species on our amazing planet. I draw, paint and sculpt to express these ideas.”
Back behind the wheel and north towards Busselton, you’ll find the studio of award-winning artist Wanda Comrie.
We found Wanda surrounded by her enchanting, vibrant works in her upstairs studio.
Her capture of the colours of nature, control of shadows and the play of light are hallmarks of her distinctive style. She seems to bring landscapes, foliage and still life arrangement alive on the canvas. Beautiful stuff!
We had come to the event in its last week and certainly didn’t have enough time to see all we wanted to see before the run back to Perth.
You’d need a few months to really appreciate the plethora of creations and creators that make up Open Studios – but those you do see will surely impress.
Open Studios finishes this Sunday, so if your weekend is clear, head for the Cape, pick up a brochure at one of the information centres or galleries, and get out among the artists!
More information at www.mrropenstudios.com.au