Merton Arts Festival offers chance to explore homes and studios of variety of artists

Merton artists are opening their homes and studios to the public for Merton Arts Festival this weekend.

The annual festival, which concludes this Sunday, features talks, workshops and exhibitions.

Organiser Claire Morgan, 53, is one of the artists welcoming the public to her home.

Ms Morgan said: “It’s a real labour of love.

“All the artists enjoy the opportunity to open their houses and studios up to the public.”

Ms Morgan said that organisers wanted to introduce people to art forms they may not have encountered before.

Artist Zahra Hassan, 50, is opening her studio to the public for the first time this year.

Mrs Hassan specialises in Indian, Persian and Mughal painting, and is looking forward to sharing her work with the community.

Mrs Hassan said: “I think it is interesting that, although London is very multicultural, you do not see many South Asian artists.

“It is very good to have this kind of representation.”

There are also workshops offering the chance to create art, such as a pottery throwing workshop at ACAVA Lombard Road Studios with artists Emilia Radlinska and Clover Lee.

Exhibitions at Wimbledon and Mitcham libraries and Wimbledon’s Holy Trinity Church explore the theme of ‘Taking Liberties’.

Ms Morgan said that artists have interpreted the theme in a variety of ways, with works inspired by the area’s connection with William Morris as well as the centenary of the women’s suffrage movement.

Other works are taking a more contemporary political interpretation.

Mrs Hassan’s work ‘Drones’, on show at Wimbledon Library, draws on traditional South Asian art to comment on the use of drone strikes in the Middle East.

Drones, by Zahra Hassan

Mrs Hassan is also displaying a work inspired by 12th-century Moorish scholar Ibn Arabi at Holy Trinity Church, titled ‘I Follow the Religion of Love’.

Other artists have explored themes relating to our relationship with the natural environment.

A giant pair of multicolour wings, made by artist Kerry Edwards and pupils at Joseph Hood Primary School will be displayed at the school on Sunday.

The organisers of Merton Arts Festival will be leading a guided walk on Saturday morning.

The walk begins at Morden Hall Park and will take in a number of artists’ studios before finishing at the Sultan pub in Colliers Wood, which has been converted into an exhibition space for the festival.

Merton Arts Festival has been running every year since 2016, when a team of volunteers took over from the now-defunct Merton Arts Trail.

More information can be found at www.mertonartsfestival.org and maps can be picked up at all Merton libraries.

Feature image is ‘I Follow the Religion of Love’ by Zahra Hassan

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