Artists Open Houses
Artists Open Houses Awards Night, May 2014

The 2014 Artist’s Open Houses Awards Night was held in the Mercury Room at the wonderful Myhotel, in central Brighton and was generously sponsored by the hotel, providing delicious canapes and drinks.

There was clearly a high level of anticipation and excitement amongst the attendees, as the atmosphere in the room was buzzing by the time I arrived. The crowd gathered and the wine flowed and before long the Artist’s Open House director Judy Stevens came to the microphone to give us the keenly anticipated verdict.

After welcoming everybody, Judy gave a round-up of the month’s activities, mentioned some of the highlights, thanked sponsors and partners and explained the order in which the awards would be announced.

The much sought after award for Best Open House 2014, would come at the end of the night - and will come at the end of this blog post too.

The first three prizes were eligible to all artists who were selected for the Open Houses Open Exhibition, Upstairs at The Regency Town House. The first two of which were selected by the exhibitions curators, Jenny Lund, Curator of Fine Art at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery and Katy Norris, Assistant Curator at Pallant House Chichester, and who also announced and presented these two awards.

The first prize of the night was for the AOH May 2015 Brochure Cover Artist, which was awarded to printmaker Bernard Lodge (http://bernardlodge.moonfruit.com/).

Bernard worked as a designer in the film and TV industry for many years, including designing the graphics for the original Dr Who series. When he left there he started illustrating childrens books (12 in total, 7 of which he also wrote). He is now concentrating on the art of printmaking, using woodcuts and linocuts.

Bernard will design the brochure cover for AOH May 2015.

The next award was for the AOH Artist of the Year. The prize of £300 was shared this year between photographer Tony Bowen and ceramicist Joachim Lambrecht.

Tony was born in Manchester and graduated in Fine Art in 1983. His recent photography work focuses largely on the exploration of found surfaces in nature and in the urban environment. (http://tonybowen.info/).

German-born Joachim studied sculpture at the State Academy of Fine Arts, in Germany. Since then his work has been exhibited worldwide. His Raku-fired stoneware pieces are stunning. (http://www.joachim-lambrecht.de/).

Next up was The Visit Brighton sponsored Visitors Choice Award, which was voted for by visitors to The Open Houses Open Exhibition, at the Regency Town House. The prize was announced and presented by Visit Brighton’s Marketing Officer, Charlotte Barrow and went to Cristobal Ochoa, a 27 year-old Venezuelan artist, living temporarily in Brighton.

Cristobal creates amazing ceramic sculptures, which look like they came from the deep; large, coral-like, subterranean-type sculptures. He also paints and is known for his artistic interventions and street performances. In his short thank you speech Cristobal commented that Brighton, as a city, was very welcoming to artists and was thrilled with his prize. (http://www.cristobalochoa.com/)

Finally, Angi Mariani from The Latest announced that The Peanut Butter Tree Arts was the winner of the Latest Best Open House Award. Angi said the house was chosen for several reasons; beautiful throughout, great illustrative work, super friendly hosts, wonderful to see a live screenprinting demo.  The collection had something to please everybody! This artists’ open house had the wow factor as well as very affordable art! They had also set up an auction that raised a total of £2800 for local charity, Friends of Sussex Hospices. The judging team from The Latest felt that Peanut Butter Tree Arts really hit the mark on everything that AOH stands for. (http://www.peanutbuttertreearts.co.uk/)

Vicki House accepted the trophy from Angi Mariani and gave a lovely acceptance speech.

The following Open Houses were highly commended for the Latest Best Open House Award:

Childhood Memories (West Hove trail), for which the judges had this to say “Beautifully evocative, a really wonderful and unique atmostphere.”

The judging panel said this about Encounters (West Hove trail): “Many stunning pieces and a really nice touch of having a retrospective of all the years they’ve been opening. There was also a very nice welcome at the door.”

Dion Salvador Lloyd (Hove trail): “The quality of the art was outstanding and displayed beautifully with great hospitality.”

Tony Mills & Friends (Kemp Town trail): “Stunning with a great atmosphere. Particularly excited that he had painted pylons – but that’s just my thing!”

So, that’s all for the May 2014 Artists Open Houses. We’ll see you again in December, for the Christmas AOH festival.

Artists Open Houses, May 2014, final weekend

For the last weekend of the Artists Open Houses I started at Gallery 40, on Gloucester Road, where Jack Bull was exhibiting his work. Bold, colourful, abstract and surreal, Jack’s striking, mixed-media style is instantly recognisable and, I think, great. I particularly enjoyed his paper cut-out work and the large triptych on display in the downstairs room.  Amongst many other places, Jack has previously exhibited at Pallant House, in Chichester, with Outside In.

I met a friend for coffee at 7 Dials and we plotted our route using the AOH guide. Our first stop was NHR Organic Oils, on Chatham Place, where we were greeted warmly and shown around the downstairs. There were some scrumptious-looking cakes on offer, but we’d just eaten, so passed on those. In the garden the sun was shining and we sat down for five minutes to catch a few rays and check out some of the garden artwork. On display were some great decorative wall pieces by Julia & Ann Fiettkau, which, on closer inspection, we saw were made out of arrangements of various little cacti-like plants!

Upstairs we liked Frances Derbyshire and Rupa Manjari’s bags, Georgia Novis’ tea-towels and cushions and Kai Crick’s photographs.

Round the corner at Art Line, on Addison Road Shyama Ruffell welcomed us to her home.

The Ruffell’s aren’t short of talent (the whole family are artists), and after we’d enjoyed Shyama’s wonderful paintings of flowers, we admired her father, Colin’s excellent paintings of Brighton and environs. These demonstrated his twin styles, one realistic, the other naive. We were taken by the naive-style landscapes and wanted to learn more about how he put them together. Colin was happy to explain the process, involving painting, then creating a print, then painting again on top of this.

Outside, in the garden, were some fantastic ceramic pieces by Frances Doherty: large, organic-looking sculptures, based on seedpods and fruiting bodies. I had never before seen anything like these magnificent, colourful sculptures. We really liked them and thought they’d look amazing in any garden.

We continued on our quest to quench our thirst for art and stopped next at UK Contemporary Open House, on Buckingham Place. Here we met Bill Black and admired his wonderful photographs. Bill told us about his travels, which the photographs document: the story behind his sand-dune photo with model beggars belief.

Also in the house, local legendary street-artist Cassette Lord was displaying his cool stencil-art and neon work, Tim Bates his interesting architectural sculpture and Sebastian Bolivar’s metalwork.

The May 2014 Artists’ Open Houses has, of course finished now, so please check out these guys’ websites and maybe catch some of them at the next AOH festival at Christmas.

Artists Open Houses, May 2014

I began my journey this weekend at 51 Wilbury Road (number 6 on the Hove Arts Trail). Having been at a ‘naming’ ceremony’ round the corner, it seemed a good place to start.

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There’s so much excellent work to see at this popular Open House (three floors of it). I loved John Beetham’s big, colourful, expressive paintings of exotic landscapes, and also Trixie Lauterwasser’s ceramics, made during her travels in Australia and New Zealand which have a really earthy, aboriginal feel to them.

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There are some wonderful collages by Maria Rivans, full of vivid colour, surrealism and humour. Her film-star pin-ups are fabulous. The top of the house becomes very hip, with some great neon wall art by Precious Murphy; new work by Cassette Lord, including an excellent suitcase; some great prints by Kitty Finnegan, of retro-glam girls in swimsuits, entitled San Antonio Baby and such-like. I had a lovely chat with Lawrence Latham, admiring his repurposed-camera-lights. His lighting work has featured on BBC South-East and in The Times lifestyle blog, and his photography has been included in the Tate Modern and has been nominated for the Guardian/Sony Style Photographer of the Year; as well as for The Times’ Landscape Photographer of the year.

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A little further down the road I found Kellie Miller’s ‘Biscuit Studio’, tucked away in a nice mews called Wilbury Grove. The big barn doors were opened wide onto a studio full of art. I was welcomed warmly by Kellie and, as an aspiring painter myself, was interested to learn how she produced her wonderful landscape paintings, so textural and rich in colour. I won’t attempt to explain the process, but do go and see these these mixed-media pieces for yourself; and while there don’t miss Jonathan Barrett Danes magnificent ceramic farm animals.

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Next stop on the map was City Retreat, on Salisbury Road. It’s the home of lovely, local lady Val Fawbert. Val was in full Captain’s gear when I arrived –Captain’s cap, breast badge and whites. I wondered if it was part of an act, but soon learnt that Val had returned from a morning on the bowling green. Her studio, set in her delightful garden, was open for the public to see work in progress and Val was talking to a group of visitors about growing up in Brighton and the various places around town that mean a lot to her. These places feature in her paintings, which she does without brushes – using just fingers and palette knives. You can also see Val’s work in the window of Nicole Urbanski  a stylish womens’ boutique in Hove.

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On my way home I stopped at Olive Tree Artists, on Clifton Street (number 2, on the Seven Dials Trail), where I was greeted by Marigold Ashwell. The excellent ceramic work of student Josie Rogerson looked great displayed beside the work of established ceramicist, Jane Abbott.

In the garden, Paulien Gluckman was giving a stone-carving demonstration. There was a small crowd gathered and the children seemed to enjoy the show as much as the adults. It was quite mesmerizing.

It was another excellent day out looking at lots of art. There are about 200 Open Houses out there, in Brighton and Hove. So I’d recommend you get out there at the weekend and take a look around.

Artists Open Houses, May 2014 – Weekend 1.

So, it’s the first day of the May 2014 Artists Open Houses festival and I’m starting early at Fugitive Ink, 25 Compton Avenue, on the Seven Dials Trail. The light floods into the front room -where most of the art is displayed- through huge, floor-to-ceiling bay windows. There’s a wonderfully bright, breezy atmosphere inside and some excellent artwork. Maestro of Brighton Draw fame, Jake Spicer is displaying drawings and paintings; Shelley Morrow is displaying some of her beautiful drawings-in- stitch, and etchings. Painter and photographer Michaela Meadow is displaying her magical, dreamy art books and magazines, as well as original paintings and photographs. There are four or five large, framed drawings by Michaela Ridgway (of PigHog Poetry renown), which are wonderfully free and expressive; there is some fine ceramic tableware by Kate Brinsley and there is a collection of Duncan Cromarty’s excellent portraits, landscapes and etchings.

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After this I walk down the hill into town and meet a friend at the Pavilion Cafe. We decide to start our journey at Faith in the City, at Dorset Gardens Methodist Church, off St James’ Street. We are welcomed warmly and offered a drink (which we both decline, having just had one). There are some lovely paintings on the walls by, amongst others, Anne Courtney and Doreen Savage, which are interspersed with pieces of poetry; and the nice lady behind the spread of sandwiches kindly sends me off with a packet of crisps. The sun is shining and I’m a happy man.

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It’s a pleasant walk back through the Pavilion Gardens, soaking up the vibrant festival atmosphere on New Road, which the Theatre Royal’s on. At Queen’s Gardens we find Colour Laine, where Toby ‘Fotobes’ Mason is displaying his fantastic analogue-produced, Lomographic photos, of mainly Brighton-based scenes. He doesn’t use digital manipulation and they are really stunning images, full of rich, silver-halide depth and colour.

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Since the sun is over the yardarm we gratefully accept a delicious shot of marmalade vodka. There’s a lovely little garden with a pond, at the back to sit in and enjoy the pictures. Zoe Murphy’s screen-printed furniture and textiles are wonderful. Liberty of London, as well as other reputable shops stock her work.

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From Queen’s Gardens it’s a short stroll around the corner to a little area where there are a few art galleries at the top of Gloucester Road. We pop into Gallery 40 to see Susan Evans and her amazing oil paintings. Susan paints large, atmospheric ‘landscapes’. They seem to be all about the light and the dreamy atmosphere and emotions they evoke.

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After an amble up the hill we’re onto Queen’s Road. Then, if you cut-through as we do on Air Street, towards Churchill Square, you’ll find Relentless on the left. This Open House is exhibiting the work of ten artists. Ian Shepherd’s watercolour paintings of various Brighton spots with a story behind them were a particular hit.

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Our final destination is the Sussex County Arts Club, which is tucked away at the end of a little passageway off Bond Street, in the Laines. There’s a life-drawing session taking place, but we are told we can walk around the backs of people, to view the artwork on the walls. There’s a lot to see and some fantastic work from the industrious efforts of the club’s members over the past year.

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Take a look for yourself. If the weather’s good, there’s nothing quite as nice as a stroll around Brighton, taking in some art.

Some Highlights of the Festival – Part 2

In this second part of a two-part blog, we suggest some Open House events you might like to visit, as well as some houses showing the work of great illustrators and sculptors. You can check them out from this Saturday and every weekend throughout May.

Events

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The Drawing Room, 66 Exeter Street, Brighton, BN1 5PH. (Dyke Road Trail)

We spoke to Carolyn Bew at The Drawing Room and we can tell it’s going to be a lot of fun. Giant games of consequences, on huge sheets of paper and a crazy, techno-version of the timeless game, involving hidden cameras recording images of your body parts, aren’t all that’s on offer at this house. On Saturday 3rd and 24th May from 9-10pm, the front of the house will be illuminated by an animated digital projection by VJ DeAd PiXeL, with music from DJ Troll.

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Africart , 18 Redhill Drive, Brighton, BN1 5FH. (Independent)

At AfricArt you can take part in Zimbabwean stone sculpting workshops, which will run alongside their Open House Exhibition of Zimbabwean stone sculptures and art from Nigeria, as well as photography, textiles and jewellery from local artists.

The workshops will take place in the garden, with a choice of stone, its colour and degree of softness/hardness, with all the tools provided. If you would like to find out more, please contact Renate on 01273 565404, or visit the website: http://www.africart.tv/shtml/workshops.shtml.

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Ceramic House, 75 Stanmer Villas, Brighton, BN1 7HN. (Fiveways Artists Group)

Winner of Best Open House 2013, The Ceramic House is a living work of art and a showcase of J Kay Aplin’s architectural ceramic and glass installations. She specialises in tiled features for interiors and gardens. 

Every weekend over May there will be tile-making workshops where you can paint your own tiles or make up a panel of your own tiles, in the inspiring surroundings of The Ceramic House. Once painted, your bisque-fired tiles will be glazed and you’ll be able to take them home. The sessions are suitable for adults and children of all ages.

Visit the Ceramic House website for further details and to book a place. (Drop-in will be available): http://www.theceramichouse.co.uk/. There is also free parking.

Illustrators

Ravenswood, 28 Florence Road, Brighton, BN1 6DJ. (Beyond the Level)

 At Ravenswood you’ll find the work of three exceptional illustrators. Jonny Hannah produced the image for this year’s brochure cover and has won various awards in recent years. His design for short animated film The Man with The Beautiful Eyes helped earn it a BAFTA in 2000.*

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Chris Riddell is a political cartoonist for The Observer and writer of children’s books; and Ed Kluz is an illustrator and printmaker whose work explores and re-imagines historical landscapes and buildings. He’s produced work for, amongst many others, the V&A and Random House.

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*Also catch Jonny’s fantastic exhibition The Road to Darktown at The Old Market, Hove, running throughout the festival period.

Nuffield, Warren Road, Woodingdean, Brighton, BN2 6DX. (Rottingdean & Downs)

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Maddy McClellan is interested in the energy and expression of marks and lines. For her, the marks on the paper must hold a spontaneity, movement and expression, able to offer as much interest as the representational image. Her inspiration comes from her surroundings – the coast and the South Downs.

Boxbird Studios, 14 St Johns Road, Hove, BN3 2FB (Hove Arts Trail)

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From the new residents of Boxbird Studios comes an eclectic cocktail of creativity. Explore unchartered territory with this all-new collective of revered illustrators, award-winning printmakers and celebrated fine artists.

Sculpture

Nuffield Health, Warren Road, Woodingdean, Brighton, BN2 6DX. (Rottingdean & Downs)

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Having studied 3D Design at Wolverhampton, Jon Mills began his sculpting career in the 1980s. He produces metalwork of all shapes and sizes, from hand-held objects to large civic statements. You might have already seen his excellent train, on the bridge over Viaduct Road. You can see his spectacular, four-metre high Pylon, in the grounds of AOH Official Sponsors, Nuffield Health, from May 3rd.

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Jamie McCartney has been producing exciting work for the past twenty-odd years. You may have seen his Great Wall of Vaginas sculpture, which caused such a stir at the 2011 Artists Open Houses. This year, at the Nuffield, Jamie is exhibiting three large animal-inspired, steel pieces.

The paintings, prints and photographs of four other established artists are also on display here. And, Geoff Bailey, the hospital’s director, is exhibiting his photographs for the first time. When I spoke to Geoff he was very modest about his work, but his photos really are excellent.

Handmade House, Beards Place Farm, 98 Lewes Road, Ditchling, East Sussex, BN6 8TZ. (Art in Ditchling)

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Guy Holder’s work is clearly influenced by his coastal habitat. You can see, in his sculptures of birds, the process he goes through to produce such interesting-looking pieces: the mark-making and energy of modelling. Guy is exhibiting in Ralph Levy’s astonishing Handmade House - explore the house and garden where everything is handmade and home-grown; with lunches on the lawn and a wild walk to the hidden hut in the woods.

As always, there’s a fantastic variety of work on offer. Take our advice, start out early and see as much as you can! You won’t be disappointed.

A Few Highlights of the Festival – Part 1

With so much to see over the weekends of May, it can be difficult deciding where to start. To help, we’ve picked out a few festival highlights, covering a broad range of media and events.

In this first part (of a two part blog), we take a look at photography and houses offering interesting food alongside the art. In the second, we’ll suggest some events, and houses showing the work of illustrators and sculpture. Why not check them out, as well as houses offering a myriad other treats, starting this Saturday, May 3rd and going on every weekend day throughout the month.

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George Douglas’ photos, at George Douglas Open House, 14 Sillwood Road, Brighton BN1 2LF. (Brunswick Town Trail)

This venue is so hot that the TV channels are fighting over it for exclusives.

Celebrated photographer ‘Speedy George’ – as he was often known - was born in Rottingdean, but moved to America in 1939. His life thereafter was spent between West Coast USA and Hove. He worked restlessly throughout his career, and developed his style most notably whilst working for The Picture Post in the 1950s.

Among his many subjects were Gary Cooper, President Truman and Dirk Bogarde. He fell ‘more than a little in love’ with Audrey Hepburn when he spent a fortnight photographing her in New York and became friends with the novelist Paul Gallico and the actor Peter Sellers.

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He was also the photographer on set for The Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night. He died in 2010 (aged 88), leaving an enormous and diverse archive to his good friend and fellow Brighton-based photographer, Roger Bamber. Now, photographer Nigel Swallow has taken on the huge task of sorting through the archive and restoring and printing these great pictures.

The exhibit is at George’s old home (which he lived in with his wife Jill).

Toby Mason, film photography. Colour Laine, 19 Queen’s Gardens, North Laine, Brighton, BN1 4AR. (Central Trail)

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Toby “Fotobes” Mason shoots film because he says it gives his photos more character. In the same way that listening to music on vinyl isn’t as perfect as CD or digital, it has more soul and embraces the imperfections. He doesn’t use Photoshop or Lightroom, preferring to experiment with different types of film and various in-camera and developing techniques such as cross-processing, which can make the mundane more marvellous. He favours scenes and environments which offer up a very empathetic atmosphere and give his images a cinematic feel. Seeking out hidden corners of cities, deserted underground stations, and Brighton beach on a barren winter’s day, Fotobes captures real scenes, with real people. His work is exemplified by double exposures, graffiti, street scenes, tunnels, international film swaps and life’s little moments, all tied together with a retro edge.

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The St Thomas Fund, 58 Cromwell Road, Hove, BN3 3ES. (Independent)

The St Thomas Fund is a residential rehabilitation centre which helps the homeless and those who have been affected by substance misuse to re-integrate back into the community. Part of their day-to-day programme includes a photography group and an art group, which all residents have attended.

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The residents of St Thomas Fund are exhibiting their photographs and art work during the Open Houses Festival and welcome visitors with cakes and tea.

Houses with great food

Encounters, 12 Langdale Road, Hove, BN3 4HN. (West Hove Arts Trail)

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Encounters won the award for Best Open House in 2012, and was also in the top three in 2013. This year they’re celebrating their 5th anniversary as an Open House and will be showcasing the work of some very talented international artists, including Mailadys Parejo and Cristobal Ochoa.

You’ll find jewellery, installations, paintings and sculptures, and will certainly enjoy the delicious, genuine Mexican food made by Flor Hernandez in the ‘famous’ Encounters kitchen.

Hong Dam, 110 Westbourne Street, Hove, BN3 5FA. (West Hove Arts Trail)

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Collective Childhood Memories is an installation comprised of digital
paintings, sculptures and poems - a visual and aromatic journey of Hong Dam’s childhood memories. Explore and discover through the eyes of Vietnamese refugee children. The art work will be complemented by Yoong’spop-up café, enabling you to experience the tastes and fragrances of Vietnamese street food, which were so poignant to Hong as a child. (Sundays 12-4pm).

Art and Indian Tapas, 17 Worcester Villas, Hove, BN3 5TA. (West Hove Arts Trail)

Take an aromatic, taste and visual journey through Gill’s award winning photography, complimented by Anita and Sarala’s pop-up Indian cafe, selling tapas delights. And view the Sea Meets the Shore exhibition in the tea-garden and summer house.

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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.

GM

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