THIS year's Swindon Open Studios was kicked off with artistic style surrounded by the works of renowned artist Eileen Cooper on Thursday night.

The festival of art returns to more then 40 studios this weekend before returning once again next weekend, when painters, sculptors and crafters will welcome residents from across the town and beyond into their own creative hubs to see how they go about their work.

On Thursday evening the event was kicked off with a special reception at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery on Bath Road, which is currently playing host to the works of Eileen Cooper until next Saturday.

The artists were given a special round of thanks from Swindon Festival of Literature organiser Matt Holland during the launch. This year, the festival featured the painting Lady in Red by Tim Carroll on the front of festival programme, while many of the artists also auctioned off some of their work during the festival's talks in aid of Prospect Hospice.

This year's brochure detailing each of the 45 artists taking part and where to find them can be found in the Post Office on Victoria Road, the Museum and Art Gallery, the Beehive on Prospect Hill, The Hop Inn on Devizes Road, Earle's newsagents on Newport Street, the Central Library or in the recycling bins at 52 St. Margarets Road.

Many artists will be welcoming guests from 11am until 5pm both today and tomorrow, and the same times again next week, although full details of each studio's opening times can be found in the brochure.

Among some of the names taking part this year are Tracey Baker-Stewart, Carmen B Norris, Mike and Niki Harrison, Sasha and Anna Stowe and Nadine Gould.