When ceramicist Sarah Malone, Jeweller Jo Lavelle and painter Sophie Nixon launched the Sale Arts Trail last year, they had no idea how many art enthusiasts and buyers were going to walk their six kilometre path and poke around the usually private studios.
In the end, more than 1000 people came to the town over the weekend to meet painters, potters, photographers, sculptures, textile artists, visual artists and glassmakers.
In the studios, gardens and tearooms around Sale, hundreds of people pooed by to natter about art, and thousands more visited their joint exhibition at the Waterside Arts Centre during its month long run.
Lots of art was admired, but critically lots of art was sold too. And the experience has encourage the trio to repeat the event – this time with twice as many venues and almost double the number or artists. “What is really important to us is not to repeat the same event every year,” says Sophie. “This one is going to be slightly bigger and it’s actually hugely bigger with 24 venues and 54 artists! But also we wanted to look at the traditional arts of the area. We don’t want just to show the art; we want to show the skills of the people that are based in our local area.”
Again, there’s a six kilometre route that visitors can walk, one that will lead them from Walton Park to the centre of Sale and to the outskirts of Sale Moor. “It’s still walkable”, Sophie laughs, “if it’s not too hot!”
Along it, open studios and gardens will be signposted, some work will be in cafes and pout in open squares.
All the work on the trail is for sale, and artists are happy to discuss commissions. “I think maybe a lot of artists were giving us a watching brief last year to see how it went, and whether it was a success,” Sophie says of SAT 2014.
“As artists, we all used to go down south to big exhibitions and pay hundreds of pounds to exhibit in a big tent – and a lot of artists barely break even. To have something on your doorstep and get the same footfalls you would at some of the big exhibitions – that’s what’s appealing to a lot of artists.”