August 2018

Art Boxes and Swindon Open Studios

Years ago, in my early years in Swindon, I recall going to the Arts Centre in Swindon and there being an old-fashioned vending machine there. You put your £1 coin and out popped a little box of art. Oh I thought this was simply the best thing. I still have the mini art works I got from that vending machine collected together in a display box.


But then the winds of changed blew: the Arts Centre was re-furbed (TBH I preferred it before) and the art box disappeared. *sad face*

But Lo! Some years later, visiting artists during Swindon Open Studies, I went to the home/studio of Tim Carroll. And – to my delight – there on the wall in the hall was an art box vending machine. Yay! Not the one I remember but another one. It turns out there was more than one back in the day.

When researching for Secret Swindon I got this information about the Art Boxes from Tim:

ART boxes:

‘ In collaboration with likeminded artist Gordon Dickinson, we found old KitKat and condom vending machines and converted them into one-pound coin operated dispensing machines of original art.  These were a great success. We had several machines around town – in The Beehive, The Victoria and the Arts Centre. The pressure of producing hundreds of small art objects each month and keeping the machines operating smoothly eventually proved too much for us and the only machine still in action today is at my house.’

art boxes and swindon open studios

Swindon Open Studios

The fantastic community art event that is Swindon Open Studios is coming next month. Dates below. Brochures in the library and all over Old Town including the museum and art gallery. My favourite artists are taking part, including Tim Carroll, Ken White and David Bent. And many more besides! Check the website and the brochure to find out who’s doing what and when and where.

Swindon open studios dates 2018


Selection of Swindon Open Studios brochures


Since the first open studios fifteen years ago, the event has taken place annually, being organised by a committee of volunteers since 2008. After that the committee settled upon September as a good month because it didn’t clash with any other open studios events in the area. 

 It’s held over two weekends in September, to give flexibility to visitors, some of whom visit a few studios of their choosing one weekend. Though others try and visit all 60 odd studios over two weekends. It’s now a permanent fixture on the cultural scene in Swindon, attracting more visitors each year. 

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