About us - committee

The Open Studios West Berkshire and North Hampshire committee is formed from volunteers from our members base and also friends or family of artists. The committee includes artists from many disciplines that understand the issues that are involved in opening our studios on a practical level. Any committee member is able to help others with advice about how we operate and what our values are.

Committee profiles

Richard Benyon (President)

Richard Benyon

I am hugely honoured to be President of this wonderful organisation. It has made me more aware of a vital dimension of life in this part of the south of England. Open Studios puts us in touch with people of breathtaking talent who add so much to our quality of life.

Diana Pattenden (Chair OSWBNH)

Diana loves OS with all her heart and has admired the scheme from its inception in the late 80s. She is an acclaimed sculptor and ceramic artist with a great attention to detail and huge breath of knowledge.
She became chair of Open Studios in 2023 and has a passion for education. She herself teaches ceramics from her studio and opens annually to visitors.

John Brazendale (Vicechair OSWBNH)

John has been a part of Open Studios for the past 18 years. When he retired as Head of Expressive Arts at St. Bartholomew’s School Newbury in 2006 he was asked to join the OS scheme by Pat Eastop, who then invited him to join the OS Committee in 2008. Who could refuse Pat? John took over the OS Chair when Pat’s husband became ill handing over to Diana Pattenden for OS2023. He is now OS Vice Chair.
John continues to work in The Cloud Studio and take part annually.

Eva Akhurst (OS Administration & Finance)

Eva’s career covered a variety of roles including scientific research, teaching, IT technical analysis and support , business support and accountancy. Retraining several times as she went along. She has worked as finance manager for a number of smaller charities. Since retiring she has volunteered in various roles, usually treasurer, for various voluntary organisations
Although she says she is ‘not a creative’ possibly that’s good to bring an ‘outside’ perspective to the committee. Eva joined the committee in 2021 and enjoys working with the committee and Open Studios members throughout the year

Isabel Carmona Andreu (OS Website and Marketing Materials)

Isabel joined Open Studios in 2007 and became part of the committee in 2009 with Pat Eastop. She left to pursue her own art development and has been back helping out on all things technical since 2020. Currently she helps with the website management, the print management and social media. She shares an open studio venue with other artists at the chapel in the Newtown Rd Cemetery.

Kevin Akhurst (OS Secretary and Distribution Manager)

All of Kevin’s working life was spent in the Power Generation industry, initially in technical research, then in engineering support, power station, project management and head office roles. About 20 years ago, when both his children had gone to university, he started making pottery in his scarce spare time. When he retired, his pottery became a serious pastime. He not only made ceramics but also constructed a wood-fired kiln and he has been learning and writing about ancient pottery for several years.
Kevin notes that most art and craft activities can be rather solitary, and believes that local art groups are an important way for artists to meet and talk. For several years he has been Chairman of West Forest Potters, a pottery group concentrated in the Reading and Maidenhead area. He also enjoys being a committee member in Open Studios, taking the minutes of committee meetings and coordinating the distribution of the annual Companion Guide.

Sue Crook (Big Day Coordinator)

Redundancy in her fifties from a senior role in the chemical industry gave Sue the opportunity to do what she had always wanted: to go to art college. After a foundation course at Basingstoke, she studied for a degree in Stitched Textiles at Windsor – and outpost of Buckingham University.
Since graduating, Sue has been involved in a number of exhibitions in the South and applied to OSWBNH around 2010 – at first exhibiting with friends at Headley and, more recently at Proteus Creation Space in Basingstoke. She is unsure exactly when she was invited to join the organising committee, but has enjoyed every minute – not least the visit to the pub after meetings.
Her work is mainly in textiles: stitching and dyeing, with more recent emphasis on sustainability of the materials employed. She is an active member of Basingstoke Creative Stitchers.

Jim Crockatt (Signage / Plinths)

Jim Crockatt has a passion for the Arts in general and in the Newbury area in particular as is reflected in his involvement. He believes that Life without art is no life at all!
He has been on the committee of Open Studios for the last 10 years.
He is also trustee and art director at Ace Space, curator at Arlington Arts, New Era Theatre and Altered States, the open sculpture exhibition at Shaw House. He has his own radio show at Kennet Radio ‘Art for Art’s Sake as well as blues music show ‘Have I got Blues for You’.
He used to be a furniture maker showing at Libertys of Regent Street and now turns wood and crafts wooden sculptures including a giant 10' high wing soon to be located at The Control Tower at Greenham.

Katherine Kingdon (Education Team Lead)

Katherine has been a member of the committee since 2019. She has responsibility for education and evaluation. With an MA in Applied Art and Visual Culture, a BA in 3D Design (Ceramics and Glass) and an Art PGCE, Art and creativity have always been at the top of her agenda. She was Head of Art at Chiltern Edge School for many years, stepping down when she started her family. While her children were young, Katherine ran the Ceramics Studio at The Henley College and on moving to Newbury, took on a role teaching Art at St Bartholomew’s School. Throughout that time, she maintained my own art practice and supported the arts locally. She and her husband set up and ran The Art Market at the Rising Sun in Reading for several years and she is currently responsible for September Ceramics at City Arts in Newbury. Alongside this voluntary work, Katherine is a full-time ceramic artist with work in galleries across the UK.

Helen Long (Education Team)

Helen Long studied ceramics at UCA Farnham, finishing in 2020. She works from her studio in Cold Ash in Berkshire. She has been a member of Open Studios since 2020. She is part of our Education Team , helps with Signage and with organising the INSIGHT Preview
She has exhibited work at ISCAEE in Korea, Heathland Artworks, Farnham and is represented by Iona House Gallery, Woodstock.

Mark Bijak (Marketing and Strategy)

Mark joined the OS committee in 2023 and has already lead a few workshops on our image strategy that will influence how the scheme will communicate and develop in the future.
He is an experience Graphic Designer with a studio at The Base

Emma Clifton-Brown (Marketing-Press Releases)

Emma's work is characterised by its use of light and shadow, and its focus on the details of the world around her and often focuses on doorways and windows as symbols of thresholds and unknown possibilities. Her work is a meditation on the nature of reality, and the possibilities that exist beyond the known world, often concerned with the concept of boundaries both physical and psychological. Exploring how boundaries can be crossed, and the consequences of doing so.

In addition to her art practice, Emma is also a passionate educator inspiring others to find the creativity hidden inside. Whether working with young people or Adults, her enthusiasm inspires the students to be creative in a variety of design and artistic workshops and courses. Emma is also committed to encouraging art to be open to all and is a committed member of Open Studio committee involved in promoting and supporting the running of the organisation.

Ellie Kerr-Smiley (Social Media Team)

Ellie joined the OS committee in 2023 and has since pushed our enthusiasm of social media to new levels. She is an excellent communicator and organiser and an invaluable resource of knowledge about how Instagram and other social media apps work.
Ellie is a portrait artist based at The Base and runs courses there on portraiture and the use of Instagram for artists.

Arty Pumpkin (OS Curator / Admin)

Arty has been part of the OS Curation team for the last 4 years.
She is a great organiser and with great attention to detail. She is a graphic designer and her artworks all involve wood type printed phrases that will make you think and reflect on the important things in life.

Claire Terry (OS Curator/INSIGHT Preview)

Claire has been part of the OS curation team for 4 years. She is a great practical, hands on person. Her mosaic artworks are complex and detail.
She took responsibility for organising the great INSIGHT Preview in the last few years that we all enjoyed.

Jon Townsin (OS Curator/ Plinths)

Jon has joined the OS Committee in 2023 and its curation team in 2024.
A winner of the INSIGHT Prize in 2021, Jon is a modern wood furniture maker with intricate design and beautiful craftmanship.

Richard Bellin (Education Team)

Constantly curious creator and a student of illustration. From diverse mediums to a mastery of oils, Richard is always pushing boundaries and embracing new techniques. Passionate about sharing knowledge, he finds joy in teaching and connecting with fellow artists. Thrilled to join the open studios committee, Richard is ready to bring his turbo-charged creativity to elevate this prestigious organisation.