Artists Open Houses
Young Artists Project

Artists Open Houses (AOH) always welcomes young artists to take part in the festival. As part of our aim to encourage more students and young artists to get involved, Marigold Ashwell is working with AOH to develop a Young Artists Project this May. Five young artists are taking part in this year’s pilot, exhibiting work in six Open Houses, each of whom provides an artist-mentor who will work with the young artist to offer both professional and personal development skills.

We caught up with Marigold to ask her about the schemes developments.

Who is the scheme aimed at?

“The Artists Open Houses wants to involve young people - those who have both talent and passion in visual art, especially those who may face barriers to the development of their work as an artist or how they present their work professionally. For the pilot project this year we’ve invited 5 young artists from Visual Arts degree courses at Brighton University and from Art in Mind -a Brighton based community group for young people with experience of mental health issues, either personally or through family or friends.”

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How will young people get involved in future?

 “We are in contact with tutors at local universities and colleges and will be visiting the end-of-year shows. We’ll also stay in touch with Art in Mind and other community based groups in the City such as Carousel and Rocket Artists. Our current young artists will hopefully be advocates for the project too and, of course there will be useful information about the scheme on the AOH website.”

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We asked Open Houses taking part what they hoped to achieve from the project:

 Lucy Jenner, from Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft explained “We want to help a young artist in the early stages of their career, by creating new opportunities for them; to exhibit in a professional gallery space, to network with creative professionals and help to inspire their creativity.”

Jesse Leroy Smith said “Young people often see the idea of an artist and the art world in a fresh and unexpected way. The creative world has changed so much in the last ten years and will change again beyond our expectations and young artists often have an intuitive understanding of what people want from art. When I was 17 I met some artists at their studios and I was so surprised that you could make a life doing something I thought only happened in the past and that you can reinvent what art is”

Jude Hart was similarly altruistic. “I am really concerned by the devastating effect that tuition fees are having on the arts. We need to start providing different routes into the art world for young creative people.”

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What do the Young Artists hope to gain from the project?

Josie Rogerson, 21, a third year Design and Craft student at University of Brighton who volunteers at Art in Mind, says: ‘I’m hoping to observe how people display their work. To gain connections with other artists and to have the opportunity to have discussions with them, to see if they are able to make and sell as a career or what they do alongside it.’

Olive Tree Artists (7 Dials trail) - Jane Abbott mentor.

And, 31 Havelock Road (Fiveways Trail)) - mentor Frances Doherty.

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Lisa Buttery, 23, who volunteers at Art in Mind, says: ‘I hope to learn about promoting and selling my work. I’d like to learn how an open house is run and managed and gain confidence in showing my work.’

BHWC (Brunswick Town Trail) - mentor by Jude Hart.

Kirsty Lumm, 23, from Art in Mind says: ‘I am excited to become more involved in the community, meeting artists that have been involved for a while and learning from them. Also raising interest in the effects creativity can have as a way of therapy or communication is something I am very passionate about.’

Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft (Ditchling trail) - mentor Lucy Jenner.

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Becky Netley from Art in Mind says: ‘I’m hoping to get some more exposure for my work, and also raise awareness of mental illness through exhibiting my work, as that will be my main theme.’

131 Preston Drove (Independent Trail) – mentor Jesse Leroy Smith.

Roo Hassan, 21, a second year Illustration student at University of Brighton, says: ‘I would like to gain more confidence and know-how with how I promote my work; at this stage I just have my website and no other form or method of sharing my work. I would also love the opportunity to do more commission-based work and work on live briefs so that I can gain a better understanding of professional practice. University sets you projects and assignments but doesn’t prepare you for the industry outside of education.’

NHR Organics (Seven Dials Trail) - mentor Laura Hoy.

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Most importantly, the project is not just about what Open Houses can give to the young artists – they are the artists of the future and bring new life, directions and dynamism to a brilliantly diverse festival.

Marigold says: ‘If you are interested in finding more about the scheme, get in touch with AOH before October to express an interest.’

Jonny Hannah talks illustration, pop culture and when he learnt the art of a bowtie

Resident AOH blogger, Guy Maberly, caught up with this year’s brochure cover artist, Jonny Hannah.

Jonny Hannah answers the phone in a broad Scottish accent. (It seems broad to me, but then I don’t know a lot of Scots!). I wasn’t expecting it so I ask him how he got it and he tells me that he was born in Dunfermline. So, how did he end up at the opposite end of the country, right on the southern coast of the UK?

According to Jonny he ‘just kept going south’. Various college courses (At Edinburgh, then Liverpool Arts School and then The Royal College of Art, in London) and then work gradually brought him down to where he resides now, in Southampton.

Why did you choose illustration (and not another art form)?

‘Well, there’s money in it’ he says. ‘Where I come from not a lot of people have got good jobs –jobs doing things they like to do. I enjoy illustrating. And, I always liked graphic art’.

After completing his studies, at the Royal College of Art, in London Jonny took a job with an animation company. I ask him when he got his ‘break’. He explains that his first real commission was a Channel 4 short, animated film called The Man with The Beautiful Eyes, which is based on a poem by Charles Bukowski. The film was completed in 2000 and went on to win a BAFTA that same year. Since then he has steadily done more and more work – for internationally renowned publications like Vogue, The New York Times, The Sunday Telegraph and countless others.

As well as all the illustration commissions he does, Jonny now teaches at the Solent School of Art & Design, in Southampton.

Where do you get your inspiration?

‘Pop culture: Music, poetry, film and books’, he explains. He tells me that one of his favourite films is L’Atalante, by French director, Jean Vigo. He also cites French directors Jaques Tati and Jaques Tourneur, as inspirations. (Tourneur made Cat People and I Walked with A Zombie).

He likes American poets, like Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Charles Bukowski, because ‘they write about everyday things, like buying a loaf of bread, or having a drink’. Jonny says he was never interested in fantasy stories like The Lord of The Rings.

Music-wise he listens to jazz, Hank Williams, and blues singers, like the Australian banjo player, CW Stoneking.

Can you tell us about your experience with AOH?

‘I’ve done the Artists Open Houses for a while now’ he says. He exhibited at SIX (at 6 Clifton Street -home of AOH head honchos Judy Stevens and Chris Lord) for many years and then in Wolfe at The Door in Hove for several years after that. This year he’ll be exhibiting his work at Jo Riddell’s house in Florence Road and also in a one-person show at The Old Market, in Hove, titled The Road To Dark Town. He sounds pretty excited about the work he’ll be exhibiting this year. ‘I’ve done some large, digital prints, something I haven’t done before; so that’ll be interesting’.

How do you go about making an illustration?

 ‘I like to work with words’ he says. ‘My ideas usually come from poetry or books. Then I like to work as quickly as possible. I find the quicker I work, the better the result’. I’m never quite satisfied with my work, so I’m always keen to move on to the next piece; to try and improve’. I suggest that this must be the way of the artist - forever wanting to progress and improve.

Tell me about your snappy dress-sense.

‘I don’t wear jeans’ he says. He likes correspondent shoes and bow-ties. ‘When did you learn to tie one?’ I ask. ‘My brother-in-law taught me how to tie a bow-tie over the phone; which was an interesting experience. I suppose I was about 23’.

What plans do you have for the future?

‘I’ve got a book coming out in September - about me; which I’m pretty excited about.’ It’s called Greetings from Dark Town, and is inspired by a Fats Waller song called Darktown Strutters Ball and CW Stoneking (the Australian blues singer). The book will be an overview of his work from the last 15 years, set around a story with images.

Have you got any words of advice for aspiring illustrators?

‘Don’t hope to be rich’ he says, straight off. ‘Enjoy working hard and do your own work if there are no jobs to do –write a book or something. Just keep working. Never stand still. And enjoy it. It’s good fun’.

See Jonny’s work at this May’s AOH festival (starting Saturday, the 3rd), at The Old Market Hove, Jo Riddell’s Open House, at 28 Florence Road and on the front cover of the AOH brochure.

Advice for House Openers: How to sell like a pro

Selling your artwork is not always easy. We’ve asked a couple of Open Houses, who successfully sell a lot of work each year, for some advice on sales techniques.

9A Hove Place is home to husband and wife - Mike Daniels and Tamar Karpas.

In the 12 years that the couple have lived in Brighton they’ve always visited Artists Open Houses. They are not artists themselves, but have a real passion for art and enjoy curating and hosting their exhibition each year; which they’ve been doing since 2011.image

Collectors Selection is another Open House that consistently sells a lot of artwork during the festival.

Karin Janzon and Helmut Lusser, whose house it is, started collecting art through going to Open Houses and soon their house was full of paintings and sculpture. They then decided that they’d like to show new work by the artists they liked and share their discoveries. Karin explains ‘We wanted to see if what we liked chimed with other people’s interests and we found a very positive response from visitors’. This will be their 7th year of AOH.

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Through speaking to these two experienced Open Houses, we have found these top tips for making successful sales:

1. Prepare well

Tamar says ‘Almost as soon as one festival finishes we start planning the next one. We decide which artists we’d like to have for the following year and confirm with everyone by the end of December for the next May’s festival. We do a little bit of decorating each year. If something needs a lick of paint, get it done before the festival.’

Karin adds ‘Develop good relationships with your guest artists at an early stage, keep regular contact and agree a timetable for sending information and images. Pay attention to presentation and, as a general rule don’t squeeze too much into a space. The old ‘less is more’ rule is good to bear in mind. We try to show paintings and sculptures as if they are part of the house so that people get a feel for how art can make everyday life more interesting.’

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 2. Do some marketing

Tamar recognises the role of good marketing, but says ‘You don’t need to spend lots of money on marketing. These days you can do so much with social media platforms.’

Karin adds ‘Encourage people to sign a visitor’s book. It’s great to have feedback and it allows you to build up a mailing list for the next year.’ image

3. Have a good range of quality art products

‘Quality is paramount’ says Tamar. ‘It’s good to have variety as well; and works that cover all price- ranges.’

Following their successes, both houses now have lots of artists asking to take part in their open houses, meaning they get to choose from some top-quality work.

 ‘Over the years we have built a reputation for showing quality painting and sculpture’ Karin explains. ‘This year we’ll be exhibiting the work of 18 excellent artists.’

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4. Know your product

Tamar says ‘Have some information around, about the artists. We print biographies on each of the artists we feature. It’s a good idea that whoever’s invigilating knows about the art and artists.’

5. Be enthusiastic

Karin’s advice is clear. ‘Show works that you are passionate about; stuff you can talk to visitors about with genuine enthusiasm.’

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6. Take good care of your customers

Karin says ‘Be welcoming to visitors. Some people may be shy and uncertain about entering a private home they don’t know, so it’s important to put people at ease by saying hello and showing them where to go. Be available to answer questions and have information about artists at hand if people want it. But don’t hover over visitors - let them browse in their own good time.’

Tamar adds ‘Think about how you’ll cope with the public coming into your house. If you’re not a people person you could find it difficult. Our artists take turns in helping us with the meeting, greeting and general hosting.’

7. Display prices clearly

Tamar says ‘It’s important to have clear pricing. Also, think about how you’re going to take payments, handle deposits and record transactions.  When key pieces are sold we often ask if it’s OK for them to remain on exhibition until the end of the show. Think about what you’ll do if people wish to reserve something. Have a cash float and consider how you’ll keep cash and cheques securely.  image

Tamar adds ‘Of course, lots of people won’t be buying, but will be enjoying looking at the art. Many like to sit and enjoy the space, which all helps to create a nice atmosphere in the house.’

The last words go to Karin, who says ‘running an open house is exhausting so don’t have too many other commitments in May and always treat yourself to a nice drink as the door closes for the day – you’ll deserve one!’

GM

Jo Riddell: Voice of Experience

Most people who have attended the Artists Open Houses festival in Brighton & Hove will need no introduction to Jo Riddell, a painter and printmaker. She has been a part of the Artists Open Houses for over 10 years, and she’ll be exhibiting her work at this coming festival in May. Artists Open Houses spoke to Jo about her work and her thoughts on the AOH festival.

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Jo took a foundation course at Great Yarmouth Art College, before moving on to complete a BA at Brighton Poly (now University of Brighton). After graduating, Jo illustrated children’s books for a number of years, and then, still in Brighton, decided to take an etching course.  She learnt the traditional method of etching on metal with acid and in doing so, rediscovered the joys of printmaking. “I love the whole process of mark making, the different ways you can render tones from greys to dark blacks” Jo says, passionately, of her craft.

Jo now works in a studio with other print makers using Acrylic Resist, which is a much safer method of etching but equally effective.

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For inspiration, Jo enjoys walking in the Norfolk and Sussex countryside. This can clearly be seen in her work, which commonly features farm buildings, machinery, things hidden beneath hedgerows (like seed heads or dead birds), winter landscapes, still lives and portraits.

The first time Jo exhibited in the Artists Open Houses was in the early Noughties, at a friend’s open house. There she showed mostly paintings. For the last seven years she has opened her own house every other year. Of the festival, Jo says “The AOH festival has certainly grown each year and encourages an eclectic mix of work to suit all tastes, bringing a special atmosphere to Brighton each May”. As frequent visitors ourselves, we couldn’t agree more.

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Jo is inviting some good friends to exhibit in her house this year. Her reasons for sharing her home - and exhibition space - are pretty straightforward. “I like to get a different mix of work: photography, jewellery, illustrations and prints to make it more interesting. I haven’t exhibited on my own yet as that would be too scary and intimidating for me. Not to mention the visitors!”

We asked Jo what she thought was the best thing about AOH. “Its inclusiveness” was her reply. “I like the fact that anyone can open their house as a gallery for a month and curate a show…” It certainly is a fantastic thing.

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With all her experience of the Artists Open Houses we thought we’d ask Jo if she could pass on some advice. “The advice I would give artists who are opening their houses for the first time is to keep it simple; not to crowd too much in; to have fun and most importantly to have plenty of homemade cakes and tea in the garden!”

So there you go; some wise words from an artist who has successfully opened her house for a number of years. If you’re taking part for the first time this year, please enjoy it.

Also, you may find our comprehensive guide to opening your house helpful. It contains lots of advice on everything from insurance to refreshments! 

You might also like:

Opening your house for the first time: An interview with Mike Jolley.

A short guide to the thrills and spills of opening your house for the first time.

Running a successful open house: Advice from the artists.

Guy Maberly.

Salon des Sources, Chanctonbury Road (#33 in the brochure)

I almost forgot Jaq Buckeridge’s beautiful open house, Salon des Sources, on Chanctonbury Road. I arrived there at the end of the day.

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Her set of images on the wall immediately caught my eye. Big, solid black bases, bold gold curves; beautiful patterns and shapes in rich colours, some scrafittoed into the surface; framed in gold and really sumptuous.

Kathie Murphy makes resin jewellery, with beautiful, bold lines; great colours and clean, nature-inspired patterns. Somehow she manages to capture, beautifully, the wonder of nature within these seemingly simple resin pieces of jewellery. The pieces on display here couldn’t fail to bring joy to the wearer.

Rebecca Anne Lee makes solid silver lace metalwork. It’s unimaginably delicate and beautiful.

There’s so much more to see in this house, including a wonderful picture book, written and illustrated by Linda Hardwick, which would make the perfect gift for young children, and the original illustrations, framed; leather woven purses, handmade aprons, Ken Eardley ceramics, fairies, biscuits and prints.

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Teresa Winchester, 2 Knoyle Road, Winter Fox, Compton Collective and The Warehouse Gallery.

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I cycled across Preston Park to Teresa Winchester’s House, on Preston Drove. There are twelve artists exhibiting in her beautiful house and it was bustling with activity. I walked through to a quieter room and introduced myself to Sarah Rickard, whose ceramics had caught my eye. Her angels, hares, flowers and moons, made by a process of colouring, firing, transferring and glazing, would make excellent presents.

Then I spoke to Gail LeCarpentier, who makes silver jewellery. It was interesting to find out about her travels around Asia, which she tries to do yearly. She always returns with high-quality silver beads and semi-precious stones, which she then turns into beautiful jewellery.

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I managed to grab Teresa for a moment to speak to her about her wonderful lino prints. There are so many of them on display around the house. I know almost nothing about printing processes, so it was nice that Teresa took the time to talk me through it. She showed me some of her fantastic original sketches, and then talked me through the process of cutting out the lino. The 19th century Colombian press that she uses for printing sounds like an amazing machine. Her prints are of magical woodland scenes.

I spoke to Linda Ayres, who makes jewellery and bags, from found vintage pieces, such as brooches, which she upcycles into contemporary jewellery. She also makes bags from vintage carpet.

Woodmaker, Peter Brett has retired from teaching and now makes furniture and other wares from wood. On sale today were smaller pieces, like chopping boards and rolling pins – perfect presents for anyone with a kitchen. Beautifully made, using locally-sourced wood.

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Also in the house were felt animal hats, animal cushions and rubber stamps.

It was back on the bike and a quick shimmy round the corner to number 2 Knoyle Road. Again, it was buzzing in the house. The kids offered me a drink and I took a look around.

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In one of the rooms there was a painting demonstration taking place. Jane Dwight drew a cat, poised to pounce, using Chinese brush. With just a few simple strokes she created this wonderful picture. As someone who is just beginning to take an interest in watercolouring techniques this was a delight to see. Jane has lots of paintings, prints and Chinese scrolls on display in the house.

It was nice to meet Angela Evans and see her wonderful ceramic tiles -which are modelled on fruit and vegetables- in the flesh. You can read my interview with Angela in a previous blog.

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Jola Spytkowska’s ceramic creatures are fantastic. She finds human and animal personalities in the most unlikely objects, such as tin openers and exhaust pipes. A simple tape measure was the basis for her ‘Tape Dog’. From these ideas and her imagination she makes drawings, which she then turns into incredible ceramic figures.

There were ceramics jugs by Ken Eardley, decorative wooden lighting by Sarah Lock and much more.

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When I left the house the sun had gone down, so the bike lights went on and I road across the main road out of town, and up the hill the other side, to Winter Fox, at 53 Kingsley Road; home of Joy Fox.

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Joy makes button jewellery and scarves. Apparently, there’s a trend in the house for recycling and upcycling and I liked Victor Stuart Graham’s wood assemblages of seaside landscapes, which made use of found pieces of wood.

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Carol Butler’s hand-embroidered Turtle Doves and other wildlife-inspired creations were very nice too.

There were loads of other great things to see in Joy’s house, including ceramics, bags, cushions and tea towels.

Joy gave me a tasty piece of cake before I continued my journey, up the hill and round the corner to Compton Road, to the house of The Compton Collective.

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I met Pru Heath, who paints watercolours, of landscapes. I loved the one of a valley in Praia da Luz. Her friend Andrew showed me his funky, computer-generated art in the living room. There are four other artists in the house, exhibiting abstract landscape-style paintings, photographs and prints.

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On my way home I stopped off at The Warehouse Gallery, on Gloucester Road. It’s a great looking new gallery, with loads of space and a huge window at the front. There was loads of cool artwork inside, by ZeeZee22, Archie Ram and Funky Red Dog. My favourite pieces were Cassette Lords neon sculptures, which sadly were a little out of my price range. Expect more interesting shows here soon.

So, another great weekend visiting Brighton’s Open Houses. There’s still this Saturday and Sunday to see some great local art and the chance to pick up some beautiful and interesting Christmas presents.

Guy Maberly.

Glass In Fusion and 8 Rose Hill Terrace - 2nd w/e Xmas AOH (cont’d)

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Gravity continued to guide me, downhill until I reached Glass In Fusion at Beaconsfield Studios, where Stephanie Else and Ptolemy Elrington share a large studio, upstairs. It was lovely to meet Stephanie. There’s a vibrant display of kiln-formed glass artworks on display, from large dishes to wall-hanging art, to jewellery.

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The work is full of colour and texture. She showed me a huge landscape-inspired commission piece that she had recently completed for a client. It was fantastic. But her biggest seller this weekend has been her glass snowflakes. Apparently, they’re selling quicker than she can make them. They’re only ten pounds and will make an excellent addition to your Christmas decorations.

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Ptolemy Elrington’s Hub Cap Creatures are pretty amazing. If you live in Brighton you’re bound to have seen some of his work around town. You can’t miss it. Weird and wonderful creatures (like dragons and sea monsters) sculpted from hub caps and other discarded materials.

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His workshop, at the back of the studio is full of these bizarre creatures at various stages of development; being brought, slowly, to life.

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My last stop of the day was at 8 Rose Hill Terrace, just off the London Road. I met Tina Davies and Sophie Sheehan here and two very friendly cats. I was amazed to hear that Tina uses her hands to paint her glorious, bright floral pictures, in oils and dyes.

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Sophie uses a variety of techniques (including leading, fusing, impressions and inclusions, sandblasting, screen printing and painting) to produce interesting textural and colour effects in her glasswork. Her beautiful screens, bowls, tiles and artwork are all on display in the house.

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Juliet Walters’ fantastic ceramics are almost other-worldly. The deeply-textured, burnished pods break apart to reveal smooth, delicate seeds within.

Louisa Crispin’s work also appeared to celebrate nature. Her silver jewellery of dragonflies and daisies would make wonderful gifts for a loved one.

It was a lovely day for a wander around some great Open Houses. There’s one more weekend of the festival to go, so avoid the high street and find yourself something a little bit special for Christmas.

Guy Maberly

Broken Biscuit House and 99 Ditchling Rise - 2nd w/e Xmas AOH

The sun was out when I left the house on Saturday and headed up the hill to 33 Crescent Road; to Broken Biscuit House.

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Davey Sutherland, whose lovely house it is, seems to have had a good year, having been commissioned to do a piece for Richard Curtis’ latest film ‘About Time’; as well as several other commissions. His assemblages, arranged in box-frames are fun and colourful and each one tells a story.

There was a nice, bright and breezy atmosphere in the house and the art was displayed well. The Broken Biscuits are a collective of artists who have been meeting up once a month for the past couple of years –sometimes in the allotment they share. They seemed like a fun lot and the art seemed to reflect that character.

Tiago Lisboa’s oil paintings (and prints) of cutesy pets, like Chihuahuas and bunnies, wearing wrestling masks are a lot of fun.

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Cathy McDougall’s work is also animal-based; specifically, dogs. She paints portraits of people’s pooches, but on display here is a selection of photos, illustrations and prints with a tongue-in-cheek/kitschy feel to them. She even has a line of organic doggy treats for your pooch’s pleasure.

There’s an excellent selection of photographs from Angus Stewart. There are portraits of burlesque and circus performers and interesting street scenes.

Billy Chainsaw upcycles vases, and paints and transfers fun images onto them, such as Madonnas (again in masks), and paint splats and stars. They look great.

I loved Lawrence Latham’s repurposed lighting. Lamps made out of defunct, retro cameras, with over-sized light bulbs coming out of them –sometimes with a frilly lampshade on top.

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There were some interesting mixed media creations here as well. Vintage suitcases opened up to reveal freaky, fairy-tale scenes of dolls, flowers and fairy lights. Also, an alternative take on the Nativity, some doggy-print cushions and some colourful knitwear and scarves, by other members of the Broken Biscuit team: Sarah Prades, Julie Peterson, Kristian Akerman, Alix Mercer-Rees and Cathy Macca.

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99 Ditchling Rise

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From Crescent Road it was a short walk to 99 Ditchling Rise, the beautiful home of Barbara Jones. She was busily selling lots of arty goods to happy visitors.

I took a stroll through her garden, to the workshop where she makes her wonderful frocks. Inside there were people trying on jackets, from her bargain clothes rail.

Back in the house I was drawn to the intricate paper-cut sculptures of Nikki Ward. I loved the scenes of butterflies escaping matchboxes, in bright bursts of colour. She uses illustrations from old butterfly identification books (some are 150 years old) and creates these wonderful scenes, and then frames them in traditional taxidermy boxes.

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There are some amazing lights by Lost and Foundry, which they make from found objects. I loved the Kilner jar lights and the ones made from what looked like vintage cake tins.

There’s so much to see in this house, with plenty to choose from in the way of Christmas gifts. There are skin care products; wool and felt scarves, mittens and socks; wreaths, cardigans, ceramics, jewellery, bags, prints and cards.

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Guy Maberly

Olive Tree Artists and Cecil Rice - 1st w/e Xmas AOH (cont’d)

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).

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Nick Ashwell

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.

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Jane Abbott

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.

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Ian Lewis

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.

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Adam Regester

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.

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Martin Ward

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.

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Su Wilson

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.

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Karen Wicker

Please note this house is not open on the final weekend 14th & 15th December. 

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With little more than a hop, skip and a jump and I was at the home of painter Cecil RiceVenue 31 (14 Granville Road).

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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.

Guy Maberly

Borderline Studios and Art at Wick Hall - 1st w/e Xmas AOH

So, first weekend of the Christmas Artists Open Houses and I’ve been out to see what’s on offer. My first stop was Borderline Studios, (Venue 16)in Chapel Mews, Hove.

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The studio is run by Kathy Laird and six artists were exhibiting there. Banu Bal (one of the artists) offered me a cup of tea and once I’d warmed up a little I got to looking around at the wonderful art on display. I started with Banu’s work. She creates ceramic sculptures and functional pieces (such as vases), and prints onto them -using silk-screen techniques- interesting newspaper articles; so that a small piece of history is set into these lovely creations. 

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Banu Bal

She also has a set of sculptures, with a beautifully pearlescent effect, which were inspired apparently, by a family of Sherpas (from the Himalayas) and sea sponges. It’s an unusual combination (and you’d need to speak to her for an explanation), but also very beautiful.

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Kathy Laird

Head Honcho, Kathy Laird also makes ceramic wares. For this Christmas Open Houses she has on display a selection of very sweet little wildlife characters; penguins, robins and (nearly extinct) hedgehogs. Also, soap dishes, trinket pots and porcelain lamps (‘LED mood lights’), hand-made and mounted on smart wooden bases, which use LED bulbs for that longer-lasting, eco bonus.

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Natalie Millerchips

I loved Natalie Millerchips quirky jewellery, which is made from some unlikely recycled materials, such as crisp packets, comic books, maps and magazines. They really are surprisingly pretty and so cleverly made that you’re bound to want to give one as a Christmas gift.

Gill Morgan used to produce purely sculptural ceramic pieces. Now her work is more functional. Employing techniques, such as scraffito and slip-trailing, her patterned dishes are a joy. She also has some lovely ceramic Christmas decorations for sale, including stars, angels, birds and baubles.

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Mo Jackson

Mo Jackson’s scarves are really wonderful. The process she goes through to make them sounds very labour-intensive. I’m simplifying, but she combines felt with silk (and various other fabrics), by pressing and agitating the fibres until they combine. It’s a Japanese technique, known as Nuno-felting. The end result is a very unique, colourful, delicate and soft piece of neckwear.

There’s a fine selection of paintings, photography and fair-trade, organic products on display from Catherine Lawrence Adams, and Helen Lucas’ ceramic wares should make you smile. They appear to be modelled on disposable household items, like polystyrene cups, lavatory-cleaning products and light bulbs. Great fun.

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From Borderline Studios I cycled up the road, to Art at Wick Hall (90 Wick Hall) Venue 15. Clair Boubli lives in this great art deco building. It’s like walking into a Poirot set. Apparently, her place was once part of the communal restaurant, and through the window you can see the old roof terrace, where the residents would have once enjoyed cocktail parties.

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She lived in Brazil for a time and the country inspires her jewellery. Seeds and stones from the hills outside Rio are sliced, or carved, and often dyed; or moulds are used to cast them into silver or bronze. Her costume jewellery is colourful and fun and made from recycled vintage brooches and other, perfectly matched, found materials.

Shyama Ruffell paints flowers. The things that influenced her to study textile design are also clear in her paintings. The rolling hills of the South Downs, the textures of nature and her passion for pattern can all be seen in her fresh, bold and colourful work.

According to her website, Fran Slade’s paintings harness mystical symbolism and fantasy. They are colourful and clearly influenced by landscape and nature. As Swedish critic Tord Baeckstrom noted in a review of her work, ‘… she has got a faint touch of Marc Chagall… in her visual ideas’.

Colin Ruffell claims that he paints in explosive bursts, necessarily punctuated by long spells of getting ready or recovery from the last effort. He has been a part of the Artists Open Houses since its early days, and has been a professional painter for much longer. The majority of his paintings are landscapes. He uses acrylics and paints in an impressionistic manner, using bold colourful strokes.

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As with the other painters in this house there are prints, as well as originals to buy.

Clare Harms is a Brighton based artist, who is inspired by the beauty and freedom that surrounds her at the seafront; with the majority of her work focusing on local Brighton scenes.

I met some great artists and had some interesting chats with them. It was nice being out and about and visiting places that I’d otherwise never get the chance to see (the Poirot-like Wick Hall and a working artists’ studio). I’d strongly recommend you go and take a look for yourself.

Guy Maberly

Children’s Events at the Christmas Artists Open Houses, 2013

The Artists Open Houses festival isn’t just for adults. There’s plenty for kids to enjoy as well. So, bring them along and get them involved in this spectacular festival of art.

Here’s a rundown of what’s on offer for kids this Christmas:

Smugglers Puppet Show, at The Grange Art Gallery and Museum, Rottingdean - Venue 48 

In celebration of Rottingdean’s Smugglers Night, Phillip Sugg has created a new Puppet Theatre about the Smugglers of Rottingdean. These tales of local legend will capture kids’ imaginations and should amuse the adults too. Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Smugglers Song’ ought to get the crowd going. He, of course, used to live in the village, and is famous for The Jungle Book and his poem ‘If’, amongst other things.

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Phillip is an artist and former museum curator. His latest show combines workshop and performance using his puppets and his own artwork.

There will be the chance to see the marionettes up close and buy cards and prints of Phillip’s work. To continue the theme, Mick Bensley will be showing his amazingly detailed marine paintings and prints. There will also be new, colourful paintings, prints and cards by Amanda Davidson. 

The Grange Exhibition runs until 18th December. You can contact Amanda Davidson on 07763 584330.

 

Puppet Show, Wishing Tree and Hot Popcorn at Brown Dog Studio, 12 Chapel Mews (off Waterloo Road), Hove BN3 1AR

Golden Memories, Venue 17

Please note this venue is only open for the weekend of 7th and 8th December.

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Sam Toft is an artist who paints the fictional life of Mr EH Mustard, who roams Brighton and Hove with his ‘dear lady’ wife Violet and Doris, a grumpy and portly Jack Russell.

The Puppet show will delight children and adults alike, with wooden puppets, which have been made with the help of wood-maker David Samuel, from the Isle of Arran. A new Ernest Mustard doll has been hand-made by David, then hand-painted by Sam. You can buy these beautiful jig-dolls, which would look great on a mantelpiece, at the studio. There are DIY versions as well, which you can paint yourself.

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In total there will be ten uniquely painted dolls at the open house. Also, mustard mugs, a 2014 calendar, boxed sets of prints, new prints on wood, limited edition prints (framed or unframed), loads of Christmas cards, a Wishing tree, lucky dip, mulled wine, homemade mince pies, hot maple popcorn (from Sweetie Haycraft’s secret recipe), and the two puppet shows daily, at 1.30 and 4pm (with live drawing extravaganza)!

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Book Reading with author and illustrator Lizzie Thomas, at New England House Open Studios, Venue 25

Come and hear debut author and illustrator Lizzie Thomas reading her first children’s picture book ‘Coco and KamiCat’. The book tells the tale of Coco Kokeshi a girl who learns to overcome her fear of the dark with the help of her magical Spirit cat KamiCat.’

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Lizzie trained as an artist at Central Saint Martins and then at Brighton University. Her wood and paper work has won her awards internationally. Her new pop-up book is bound to enthral the youngsters.

There will be two readings on Saturday 14th December, at Unit 5, on Level 6 of New England House.

Reading #1 - 2.30pm, maximum 6 children, most suitable for ages 2-5 but older siblings may enjoy it as well. Children MUST be accompanied by an adult at all times in the studio.

Reading #2 - 3.30pm, maximum 6 children, most suitable for ages 2-5 but older siblings may enjoy it as well. Children MUST be accompanied by an adult at all times in the studio.

Please contact Lizzie on lizzie@lizziethomas.co.uk or 07535 558 700 to book a place for your child.

Please note this venue will be opening for three days this year - 12th, 13th & 14th December.

So, take the kids out and spark their imagination at an Open Houses show. It might be just the inspiration they need to be the next great artist, or author of another Jungle Book.

Guy Maberly

Top reasons why you should visit this year’s Christmas Artists Open Houses Festival

Reasons why art enthusiasts and Christmas shoppers alike should visit this year’s Christmas Artists Open Houses.

For three weekends, beginning November 30th, it’s the Christmas Artists Open House Festival.  As anyone who has visited will know, Brighton has a much-deserved reputation for being an arty kind of town and the Open House festival is the perfect way to see lots of the city’s finest art, as well as being a great chance to meet the artists who create it.

There will be a wide variety of art and crafts on display and for sale over the course of the festival; from jewellery, homewares, paintings and sculptures, to prints, pottery, installations, even robots. The list is almost endless, so you may be wondering where to start. Well, if you haven’t already picked up one of our fine brochures, found in most outlets in town, we’d recommend that you do so as soon as you get the chance.

Why not avoid the frustration of Christmas shopping on the high street and take a leisurely snoop around some captivating Brighton residences?

 A good place to start might be Billy Cowie’s residence at 92 Centurion Road, BN1 3LN. The artist composer and choreographer has produced commissions for, amongst others, the BBC and Channel 4. His stereoscopic (3D) dance installations have toured over 20 countries, across five continents. In his recent work, drawings and paintings by German artist Silke Mansholt have been projected onto the dancers’ bodies.  The installations will be screened at half past every hour (from 11am until 5pm) with 3D glasses provided. In between times, you can view an exhibition of Mansholt’s original paintings.

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If you are on the look-out for some beautiful, hand-crafted Christmas decorations for your home, why not pop in to Polish designer Cat-arzyna’s house, at 11 St Keyna Avenue, BN3 4PN. As well as decorative pieces, Cat-arzyna makes wonderful cushions and embroidered textile gifts, such as dolls, which you’ll also find on display at her Open House. There will be mulled wine and cakes too!

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Look out for the Beastie Toys! at The Warehouse, on Gloucester Road, BN1 2AF. The ubiquitous Cassette Lord and some of Brighton’s finest street artists will be showing 3D graffiti sculptures, robots and projections in a B-movie-themed monster show.

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Those seeking gifts are likely to find something nice for themselves or a loved-one at Barbara Jones’ house, at 99 Ditchling Rise, BN1 4QP. She and other artists and makers will be showing frocks, vintage textiles, exotic jewels, skincare products, beads and bags. Harry Crampton and Eric Pearson will also be exhibiting, showing a strong selection of fine art photography and pottery, respectively.

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From there you could head up to Thistle House, at 20 Clifton Terrace, BN1 3HA, where you will find a mix of work from established artists and recent graduates. There will be woodcuts, prints, jewellery and much more, all for sale at affordable prices and on display in a beautiful Brighton home.

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Another great group show that we’ll be checking out this Christmas AOH is at Winter Fox, the home of Joy Fox, who makes button jewellery and textiles. Also on show at her house, at 53 Kingsley Road, BN1 5NH, will be bags, cushions, pottery, prints, wood assemblages and more from various other local artists.

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For an alternative art experience, head over to the Magick house, at 43 Orange Row, BN1 1UQ, where there will be no shortage of witches and mysteriousness. Video-installation artist, Jo Wonder leads the team and children are welcome.

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This is just a small selection of some of the houses exhibiting this Christmas during the Artists Open Houses festival. The works of hundreds of artists will be on show in the 49 houses taking part. Make sure you pick up a brochure and see what takes your fancy or view the listings online. There’s much to see and much of it is for sale at affordable prices. For any art enthusiast this really ought to be too good an opportunity to miss out on.

Guy Maberly

HOUSE PROUD - PART 2

Guy Maberly asks four experienced artists, involved in the Artists Open House Festival, for some advice for those opening their homes for this year’s festival.

Following on from Part 1, I have spoken to two more respected artists whose work has attracted much praise in recent years, to get to the bottom of what it takes to exhibit successfully at the Artists Open House Festival.

Part 2

Artist and jewellery designer Nick Orsborn, R.I has been involved in the Artists Open Houses Festival since 1989, exhibiting as a guest in other peoples’ houses until 2004, when he decided to open his own house.

According to Nick, “It’s a great way to showcase the largest range of my work. Initial, upfront costs are minimal compared to hiring gallery space anywhere in the South. I can also compliment my work with selected guest artists, which makes the House appeal to a wider audience. I love knowing that each day will be different and that new people will always visit. Some of the regulars have become friends too, and I enjoy talking to people about my work and they love to snoop around my jewellery workshop to see how such a mess can result in the carefully crafted pieces they see for sale.”

As to what makes Nick’s Open House a success, “I am friendly but not pushy” he explains. “I offer a wide range of work over a broad price range and try to make the house as welcoming as possible”.

As to any specific advice to anyone thinking of opening their house for the first time “Expect the unexpected” he says “But the bottom line is to enjoy it and make the visitors feel that they have had an enjoyable and unique experience.”

Angela Evans has been making ceramic tiles since 1992. Her work has been featured on Channel 4’s Collectors Lot, as well as in several books and at many exhibitions and art fairs.

Angela started exhibiting in other people’s Open Houses when she moved down to Brighton in 1998. She opened her own house for the first time last May and her four sisters joined her.

“Trying to explain why we have been successful is a tricky one”, she admits.

“We had lovely, positive feedback but I think you need a few years under your belt to get a great reputation. The houses I have been in that were most successful had a friendly atmosphere with a good standard of work, displayed well. I hope our house has a kind neighbourly feel to it.”

As to advice for first-timers, Sarah is quite clear “Get all your own work done early because you have so much other stuff to do in November - cleaning the house, publicity, dealing with your artists and setting up. Check the AOH website for deadlines and go to a few AOH Trail meetings. Also, I think it’s good to bear in mind that people like to see a house, not a gallery.”

So, that’s what the experts say. Come and see these fantastic Open Houses and many more, at this year’s Christmas Artists Open Houses festival. If you’re an artist, why not get involved yourself? You never know, someone may be writing about your work next year.

This year’s Christmas Open House festival runs from the last weekend of November to the second weekend of December at venues throughout the city.

HOUSE PROUD

Guy Maberly asks four experienced artists, involved in the Artists Open House Festival, for some advice for those opening their homes for this year’s festival.

PART 1

In an attempt to find out what it takes to exhibit successfully at the Artists Open House Festival, I have spoken to two respected artists whose work has been the subject of much visitor excitement in recent years.

Painter Dion Salvador Lloyd takes inspiration for his paintings from music and nature. His imagined, ‘global’ paintings transport you to vast, slightly surreal landscapes, which evoke all kinds of memories and feelings.

He has been exhibiting in his house for 14 years and seems just as excited to be taking part today, as when he first took part. Last year Dion was nominated for the Best Open House award.

“I try and do something different every year” he says, “with the aim to inspire others.”

“You need to challenge yourself and keep it fresh. I decorate the house every year, so the place looks the best it can. And, DON’T charge for tea or coffee, etc! These lovely people have made an effort to come to your Open House so you need to make them feel welcome. There are over 200 houses but they have come to mine. I always ask myself why. It’s very important in my world!”

As to why he continues to take part, Dion is quite candid:

“Everything about doing Open Houses is positive”, he says enthusiastically. “The feedback you get is invaluable and if you leave out a Guest Book you’ll receive comments as well as a mailing list.  The exposure is great and it will boost your profile. Of course, sales and commissions are important, but so are building relationships with collectors, buyers and clients, that you don’t get through the galleries system.”

For Dion “It’s all about sharing the love and inspiring people. I meet people from all walks of life and that’s great. Make your house, or studio feel inviting. People like that.”

Print maker Sarah Jones has been opening her house as part of the AOH Festival for the last six years. Originally part of the Hove Trail, Sarah has now moved and is part of the Dyke Road Trail. Apparently, she bought her new house with her Festival exhibition in mind.

 It took her by surprise how successful it would be, opening her house for the first time in 2007, and she’s never looked back.

To Sarah it’s not merely about selling her work but also meeting people who share her passion.

“By taking part in the Open Houses, I have met people who have taken my work to exhibit in New York; at The Affordable Art Fair in London and various other exhibitions, which has been great.”

“I take the festival seriously” she says. “I like to cherry-pick other artists to exhibit in the house with me - there were 15 of us last time! This attracts many more visitors and, of course, brings down running costs. We each chip in a small amount before the festival starts for the AOH brochure listing, some flyers and PV wine.”

Off the back of her successes with Artist Open Houses, Sarah now has a shop/gallery in the Artists Quarter on the beach front, called Jones & Green. For this year’s festival, Jones & Green will be collaborating with five other artists’ galleries in the Quarter.

How Artists Open Houses inspired one artist to turn her home into the work of art

With registration now open for the Christmas Artists Open Houses we thought we’d speak with an artist who has been truly inspired by the AOH festival. Not only that, but The Ceramic House was also nominated for this year’s Best Open House award. We caught up with Kay Aplin, the owner of the house, to find out more.

 

1.      Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.

I specialise in architectural ceramics so in other words I make a lot of tiles! My background is in public art; I make commissions for the public realm using ceramics, mosaics, glass and occasionally concrete but predominantly my work is in ceramics. I’ve been doing this for the last 18 years since I graduated in 1995 and I’ve worked mainly in the UK, but also internationally, including Guatemala and Denmark. I moved to Brighton five years ago and that’s when I got involved with Artists Open Houses.

2.      Where do you get your inspiration?

Over the years I’ve been working on commissions for clients so there has always been a brief and quite often a theme attached and the work always responds to site. Nowadays the work is still inspired by place but I’m also very inspired by botanical themes and patterns in nature and architecture. I often take myself off up to The Downs and I’ll see a little flower or a blade of grass swaying in the wind that’ll just trigger something in me. I’m always busy taking photos of things I see and think are interesting– it happens now almost unconsciously!

3.      Tell us about the house! How did that idea come about?

When I first moved to Brighton, my neighbour was taking part in Artists Open Houses. I knew immediately that the house would be the main feature as that was how my mind worked back then; I didn’t make pieces for exhibition, I made permanent installations. That was ingrained in me, so I decided to use the house as my blank canvas.

4.      What made you initially decide to get involved with AOH?

When I first moved to Brighton I’d never heard of Artists Open Houses before – I didn’t even know much about Brighton Festival! But when I discovered it, I realised what a great opportunity it was. I’d be able to actually show my work in the flesh rather than people only being able to see photographs of work I’d installed into site, usually far away. I wanted people to be able to come and touch the work – to interact with it.

5.      What has kept you coming back to AOH year after year?

The main reason is that I love doing it! I love curating the shows and finding amazing artists to be a part of the experience.

I am also thrilled about the incredible feedback we’ve had from people and how encouraging all of the visitors are. As an artist you often end up working alone day in, day out so it’s really nice to be able to have that interaction and find out what people think. The experience of interacting with the people who come through the door is a fantastic part of Artists Open Houses. I really enjoy the experience and it’s just a nice thing to be involved in.

6.      What is your favourite part of the AOH experience?

Definitely curating the show; the process of looking for the artists, inviting them to participate, deciding where it all goes and what goes with what. I’ve got this opportunity to invite famous artists to exhibit!  Granted they don’t always say yes but when they do it’s amazing! Like Sandy Brown for example – she’s a big name in ceramics so I was really pleased when she said yes.

7.      In May 2013 your house won the ‘Best Open House Award’. How was that experience?

It was fantastic! We were secretly hoping we’d win as we’d been shortlisted the year before and the comments had been so encouraging. We also had 21 incredible artists in the house so we felt we’d delivered a high standard.

8.      What impact do you think being a part of Artists Open Houses has had on your career?

It’s massively helped to raise my profile; it’s put me on the Brighton map. There are a lot of artists in Brighton and when I arrived I was working nationally, so locally it’s been fantastic for helping to get my name out there. Beyond that, because of AOH I set up The Ceramic House website and as a result of that it’s helped to generate a new audience all over the world. I wouldn’t have built that website if I hadn’t have taken part in AOH. It’s helped raise the profile enormously - everywhere. And of course it’s led onto other ventures like the pop up restaurant and offering accommodation. It’s a great platform for artists and we definitely need to be encouraging more people to do it!

9.      What advice would you give to artists considering open their houses as part of AOH?

Be prepared for everyone trampling through your house! You definitely have to be the kind of person that’s alright with that. Also presentation is crucial so it’s worth spending the time presenting the pieces you are exhibiting really well.

Finally I’d say to always be welcoming. People want to be welcomed and have interaction with the artists – plus it makes it so much more of an enjoyable experience for you too!

Kay and The Ceramic House will be opening as part of the Christmas Artists Open Houses so make sure you go along and check it out.

You can also find out more about The Ceramic House on their website, Facebook and Twitter.

Registration for the Christmas Artists Open Houses is now open. Register here!