I continued my travels eastwards, towards home (Lewes Road). My next stop was at Olive Tree Artists, Venue 30 at 16 Clifton Street.
It’s the beautiful home of Nick and Marigold Ashwell. It looks really nice inside, with the artists work all clearly laid out and a great big bunch of flowers in the room; which was kindly donated by Go Botanica (who you can find at the train station).
There’s plenty to choose from here, with a total of nine artists exhibiting in their house. I started with Nick’s work. I felt that his spontaneous and fresh pencil drawings of Brighton and Brighton people would brighten up any home.
Then, I was drawn to ceramicist Jane Abbott’s pots (or vessels), with their interesting shapes and beautiful designs. Apparently, she takes a lot of her inspiration from the research she needs to do to successfully deliver the Art GCSE syllabus to her pupils. She also acknowledges the influence of Alison Britton and Elizabeth Fritch’s early work.
Next, were the wooden bowls of Yorkshire woodturner (and primary school teacher), Ian Lewis. As his livelihood doesn’t depend on his woodturning output, he spends more time getting every piece right and he likes to splash out on unusual and interesting timbers, which makes each piece quite unique. He also makes hand-turned, wooden pens. These and the bowls are very reasonably priced and would make excellent gifts.
Using techniques originating in 14th century Venice, Annie McCabe hand makes glass beads and with them creates very pretty pieces of jewellery. She also makes stained glass panels.
With 25 years of experience behind him, Adam Regester’s paintings are bold and colourful. Inspired by artists such as Gustav Klimt, Picasso and Matisse, his canvases have proved to be very popular, although he also has prints and cards for sale for those on a tighter budget.
Annette Street creates her silver jewellery using a variety of techniques, including fusing, firing, forging, soldering, beading and wirework. Recycled fine and sterling silver, beautiful semi-precious stones and pearls are all common features in her work.
According to Martin Ward’s website ‘The beauty and mystery of abstract art lies in its extraordinary power to act directly on our senses and express ideas and feelings not communicable in words; it can be appreciated in the same way as music – a purely sensory language’. His pastels and paintings really hit the spot.
Su Wilson makes some really interesting kiln-formed glassware. There are some pieces on show in the house which would make excellent Christmas decorations. There are also some beautiful fabric bags in the house, made by the very talented Karen Wicker.
Please note this house is not open on the final weekend 14th & 15th December.
With little more than a hop, skip and a jump and I was at the home of painter Cecil Rice, Venue 31 (14 Granville Road).
Cecil has been painting in watercolours for over thirty years and he exhibits regularly in the UK. The house makes for a perfect art gallery; free of clutter and the paintings well-lit. His subjects include the city of Venice, Mediterranean light and landscape, the sea and shoreline of Brighton and much more besides. Even if you can’t afford one of his magnificent paintings this year, I fully recommend you take a trip to see them in the flesh. Cecil is also selling copies of his book, which contains beautiful reproductions; and DVDs, which provide you with an insight as to how he tackled painting some of his subjects.
All in all it was an excellent day and as an aspiring artist, it was inspirational. It’s great meeting the artists, especially when so many of them are so passionate about what they do. My advice would be to choose a starting point on the brochure’s map and go forth and explore the Open Houses of Brighton. You won’t be disappointed.