Art boxes and Swindon Open Studios

Art boxes and Swindon Open Studios

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. 

Call for Swindon Open Studio 2018 Artists

Call for Swindon Open Studio 2018 Artists

22nd April 2018


Call for Swindon Open Studio 2018 Artists

Call for Swindon Open Studio 2018 Artists

A Call for Swindon Open Studio 2018 Artists:

Swindon Open Studios (SOS) has become a much loved annual event on the Swindon Calendar.  It is a fabulous opportunity for Swindon’s creative talent to display, demonstrate and discuss their artwork.

Artists are invited to sign up now for 2018.  Closing date for applications is 31st May 2018. This year’s event will be on the 22nd / 23rd & 29th / 30th of September. 

It’s great that a diverse range of artists are involved already, with many different art forms.  However, it is always good to see new talent emerging – or longer established artists trying it for the first time.  Here are some stories from existing participants:

2018 will be the fifth time Swindon artist Caroline Day’s has registered to open her studio for SOS.  Caroline believes that it has been a real benefit to her.  She describes it as “a real boost for emerging artists taking part.”  

Painter Mary Parsons took part for the first time last year, and found that it opened up several other opportunities.  She enjoyed it so much that she has already joined the committee!

Mixed media artist Ann Parker- Griffiths registered for the first time last year and was initially cautious about taking part.  On reflection she says now that “everyone I have met within SOS has been encouraging and helpful in so many ways that I wish I had started years ago”.

Fine artist Hannah Dosanji points out the numerous advantages of participating – professionally and socially: “hearing about other local artists, your own profile being shared on a brilliant website and social media, plus the opportunity to meet SOS participants and how interesting (not intimidating!) meeting the public can be… it’s hard work but fun”

There is no right or wrong way for an artist to hold an Open Studio; it’s the variety that makes it a special and unique scheme.  Many artists don’t have a studio as such but still open their house to show where they create their work – often on the kitchen table!  Ideally it is not just an exhibition but a chance for people to see artist’s work in progress.

It doesn’t have to be in your own house if that’s not appropriate – many make use of community venues, often grouping together.

There is also an opportunity for participants to exhibit in an Old Town Art Trail in August.  During this introduction trail Old Town businesses kindly offer to host a piece of SOS artwork within their shop window to advertised the September SOS event. 

Artists and the motivational Swindon following are also invited to a SOS launch evening on Friday the 14th of September at the Central Community Centre, Swindon.  More information will be available about this soon on our website.

Take a look at our brand new website created by Waddell Digital to see artists that have already registered – maybe you’ll be inspired be a part of this vibrant pop-up community.

The event is widely advertised with brochures available at many local venues.  To keep in touch and enable the committee to support artists before and during the event, please follow SOS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Artists benefit more if they spend a bit of time promoting themselves as well.

Artists have until the 31st May to register online.  Cost of registration is £40.   Terms and conditions are on the website.  Please feel free to ask for advice or join our SOS Artists Forum group on Facebook.  We hope you consider taking part and enjoy the experience if you do!

Mary Parsons, Swindon Open Studios Committee.

Email Enquiries to or private message us on Facebook or Instagram.

Website links:

Registration form:


Social Media:

Facebook: SwindonOpenStudios/

Twitter: @Swindonopen

Instagram: swindonopenstudios