FROM quaint gardens adjoining small Victorian terrace houses and expansive lawns at larger Edwardian semis to a craft village, the Brunel shopping centre, the Prospect Hospice and the top bar at the Beehive pub.

Even a farmhouse with spectacular views of the Uffington White Horse hill carving, offering the additional attraction of free-range eggs for sale, is getting in on the act.

It isn’t just the sheer diversity of works on display that will intrigue and hopefully delight visitors to this year’s Swindon Open Studios arts extravaganza.

It is the wide range of venues that now host the multi-faceted exhibition which are increasingly adding to its character, charm and appeal. At some of them you might get a nice cuppa while admiring the works on show. And if you are really lucky, a slice of cake.

More than 40 artists, craftspeople and art groups will be taking part in SOS, Swindon’s annual festival of the visual arts in September.

Showing and discussing their work, and in some cases demonstrating their craft will be painters, sculptors and photographers along with workers in ceramics, glass, textiles and other mediums. The Prospect Hospice artists will be among several groups involved. Well-known artists such as Ken White, famed for his Swindon railway works paintings, and David Bent, a world leading aviation artist, will also be involved.

Others will be nervously exhibiting their work in public for the first time. One of the organisers, Jane Milner-Barry, said: “There are so many talented artists and craftspeople working in and around Swindon but a lot of people don’t know they’re there.

“Open Studios is the best way to change all that and enable people to show their work to a wider audience. Once people find out about Open Studios, they come back year after year.” Since it was first staged in 2004, SOS has established itself as a popular showcase for local artists and craftspeople who open their studio doors to the public and chat about the work on show.

Artists within a 15 mile radius of Swindon are eligible to take part. Landscape and portrait artist Jane, who will be opening her “glorious” backyard in St Margaret’s Road, Old Town for the event went on: “Gardens will be an important part of SOS this year.

“Some sculptors show their work in a garden setting, which always looks wonderful, and many artists will offer visitors a cup of tea in the garden –so long as the weather is fine.”

Among them will be Charly Fox, whose metal sculptures, some created from reclaimed engineering parts, will be displayed in his Ermin Street garden.

Tim Carroll’s curious ‘art machine’ which dispenses mini artworks in boxes, will be cranked to the max at his St Margaret Road backyard where paintings, ceramics and post-cards will also be found.

At his “beautiful garden” in The Mall, Andrew Tucker will be exhibiting a wide range of wooden items “some practical and useful, some decorative.” Demonstrations of pole lathe turning will create further interest. And you can always catch the Number 12 bus to Maggie Harris’ place at Nolan Close, St Andrew’s Ridge, Abbey Meads to enjoy her colourful and abstract works of stitching and embroidery. But watch out for the high step at the front door!