|Today is the first day of the 2011 Brighton Festival, and the start of the 30thanniversary Brighton and Hove Artists’ Open Houses event.
Brighton and Hove Artists’ Open Houses week one
Friday We began our Festival as guests at two private views in one evening; Cecil Rice [S11 at Seven Dials Artists] and Dion Salvador Lloyd [i4 at Independent Open Houses]. Rice is showing views of Venice, Brighton and Morocco in watercolour and oils. Lloyd is showing new abstract and contemporary landscape painting using oils and mixed media; the fruits of his recent cross-America road trip. Both parties were very well attended, and we bumped into old friends at each – hopefully, a sign of a happy Festival for all.
Unlike the Festival and Fringe brochures which are always out well in advance of the start, I hadn’t seen a trace of the elusive AOH brochure until this evening, and seized my copy. I’d have liked to have had it earlier on so I could plan my weekends, but I’m enjoying it now, apart from the rather murky and indistinct brown cover image which doesn’t particularly attract.
Starting at the bottom of Dyke Road and heading up past Bhasvic, we visited some of the Seven Dials and Dyke Road Arts houses today.
S1 Number 8 is a fresh new venue, situated right behind St Nicholas church [said to be the oldest building in town], so very convenient for starting from central Brighton. Three friendly girls from Belfast welcomed us in as some of their first visitors, showing photography, print making and painting.
Nearby, S2 Diva, another new venue, revealed a spectacular miniature panelled great hall and staircase, and offered a wide selection of textiles and crafts.
Then on to S3 Arthouse, down narrow stairs and into a basement flat opening onto a secluded garden on two levels, where we enjoyed some gorgeous cupcakes and tea [this will become a recurring theme], before admiring prints, painting, photography and jewellery. I especially liked Jodie Collins’ hazy golden Desert Storm painting.
Next was S4, A Shot in the Park, a flat in an imposing Victorian villa with a terrific high ceiling and great window [although I found the reflections from the light streaming through did make it difficult to view the photography opposite with ease.] Emma Brownjohn’s ‘Lowryesque’ paintings and Paul Reed’s dreamy seascapes caught my eye.
S6 Sixes and Sevens have a wealth of painting, drawing and photography, and I was rather charmed by Hickory Dickory’s selection of children’s handmade wooden bedroom gifts, including height charts and name plates.
Sadly S7 was shut today so I made my way on to S8 Walled Garden. I’ve passed this usually closed ivy-covered door on Seven Dials many times, and it was intriguing to be able to step through into the terraced garden and in through the double doors to the hidden flat beyond, for paintings, cut-paper silhouettes and ceramics. Michael Gower’s Eagle painting and Sue Roberts’ ceramic armadillo shell were particularly striking.
Last house of the day was Dyke Road Arts’ D5, Yarn and Glue, another newcomer, showing entertaining illustration prints, including ‘Brighton Line’, a fun echo of the London Underground map especially for those who know their Brighton.
A leisurely café breakfast, then along to the long-established and accomplished Dyke Road Arts D8 The Trojan House. Here I met with my first buy of the Festival; a print of Troy Ohlson’s Art Nouveau-esque green dragonflies embellished with gold. Inspired by animals and the natural world, Troy’s paintings, prints and filigree jewellery are joined by her daughter Tema’s Tematations handmade bags, and a host of guest artists showing silver jewellery, ceramics, wooden boxes, carvings, lamps and textiles.
Then a brisk walk towards town for a few more. Only one weekend opening for this rather special venue on Seven Dials Artists; S7 Brighton and Hove High School. Pupils of all ages produce canvases, postcards and photography together with their thoughts on the theme of ‘other worlds’, and in a spirit of healthy competition, visitors are given voting slips to vote on their favourite pieces. This is their third year, and now something of a tradition for us [including the tea and cupcakes on the lawn] and each year I’m struck with how inventive and creative the girls are in their work. I particularly liked Tuesday Jamison’s sculpture; a dress constructed of wicker, wire and photographs, Shana Langridge’s eerie body-casting and Nandi Clarke Coulibaly’s glittering black and silver collage, Pandora. Congratulations to the staff and students once again.
Then to S10, Eve Poland and Elizabeth O’Donnell. This flat is situated in a splendid Victorian mansion with perhaps the most imposing entrance of all the open houses I’ve seen this weekend. A very Japanese feel inspires the prints on show this year, and especially memorable were Poland’s sea sirens and sullen cats with attitude. I particularly liked the piratical cat on a union jack print.
A walk past St Anne’s Well Gardens leads to S13, Davigdor Mews Studio, a pop-up temporary venue opposite the artists’ ceramic and glass workshop. A guided tour and explanation of the processes was very illuminating. Tanya La Mantia’s beautiful translucent white bone china, produced with a complex process of layering and sand blasting were especially memorable.
S12 The Colbourne Collection is another newcomer in this year of début houses. Sometimes you just walk into a house and want to live there – this is one of those; a light, airy and immaculate house showing a great variety of work.
Brighton and Hove Artists’ Open Houses week two
The second weekend began with tea and home made rock cakes at the Pavilion Gardens Café, venue 10 on the Shop Window trail. Then to a selection of venues on Central Brighton trail, which is more a selection of shops, studios and galleries than open houses per se. C16 The Fine Line Project was not open until 12 so we continued through the North Laine without seeing it – I do feel that it would be better for visitors if all houses on a trail open at the same time, to avoid disappointment.
C14 One In The House is a shop set over three floors of what was once a tiny and intriguing cottage. Mingled with the stock were Donya Coward’s textile collages on a canine theme, and Andy Beck’s photographically realistic acrylic city scenes.
From C15 Brighton’s Arty House, a tiny and immaculate terraced house which is home to Arty magazine, and is showing a selection of print and photography, we fought our way through the buzzing street market to C13 Unlimited Editions to view some typeface themed print. Then on down Bond Street to C11 Sussex County Arts Club, which has for many years hosted classes in portrait, costume and life-drawing classes and is again showing many studies of intriguing-looking subjects by its members, working in a variety of media. Note – This old building is also home to what must be one of the country’s oldest working loos!
Later this afternoon we visited a few more Dyke Road Arts venues, beginning with DR10 The Dog House. Karen Barratt’s Memory Wall of family photographs and memories struck a chord with me, as we all seem to have boxes and suitcases of old family photos which together could tell such a fascinating story. Terri Bell Halliwell’s gilded leaves and white outdoor wall plaques, Tom Pockley’s turned wood amphorae contrasted with dark driftwood and Joanna Zara’s millinery were most memorable. After tea and cake in the rooftop studio overlooking the raised back gardens, round to DR7 The Gloobah House, filled with handmade crafts and textiles, where Ali Rabjohn’s beautifully soft felt wraps were especially attractive.
If you said you only had a few hours to spare for a trail, I’d recommend this trio of elegant and engrossing Victorian / Edwardian villas all packed with interest, situated just north of Hove Station, and a few minutes walk from Hove Park Café:
H2 Collectors’ Selection is for me the ideal open house, where we were greeted by the owners and enjoyed the work which is harmoniously mixed with the owners’ books, musical instruments and plants throughout the house, and on into the garden. See Aksorn Pongtarin’s dreamy impressionistic paintings, John Baldwin’s intricately carved lime-wood puzzles and nonagenarian Cyril Mount’s beach, carnival and night life paintings.
H3 Polish and Pin have set up a full-scale café in the kitchen and on the covered deck, with tea and chocolate cupcakes our excellent if rather expensive choice. Nina Mills’ painted glass bowls and Artbooks leather books were most memorable works.
Visitors to H1The Wolf At The Door [moving house after the Festival] are greeted by a huge metal sculpted wolf outline by Ian Tatum, whose magnificent working Foxglove Gate sculpture also graces the back garden. Inside for jewellery, glass, silver and photography. I especially enjoyed former teacher of mediaeval literature Jill Tattersall’s mixed media pictures. Her work mixes text, colour, gold and silver leaf, reminding me of a mediaeval scientist’s notebook. Today there were amusing science demonstrations and a jeweller at work.
A brief trail for us today, ending the second weekend.
Brighton and Hove Artists’ Open Houses week three
A slice of Fiveways with a few independents on the way, today. One of the things that has rather annoyed has been the inconsistency of house closing times; 5, 5.30, 6 …
On the way over I stopped in at Dyke Road Arts DR4 The Artful Fox. One of those TARDIS-like Brighton houses built on the side of a steep hill, with a surprise extra floor to visit, this tall cool green house is showing a diverse group exhibition including intricately detailed hand embroideries by Lesley Buckingham and Carol Butler.
Then across the divide that is London Road, and up into Fiveways. Preston Drove splits the northern chunk off from the rest so that’s where I spent the remainder of the afternoon.
F13 Theresa Winchester and Friends has made the Latest Homes Long List for best open house this year. Plenty to admire in another imposing Victorian villa; jewellery, textiles and sculpture in the terraced garden, ceramics, carving and photography mingling with Mick Hulme’s intricate Green Man and oak leaf carvings. I remembered Theresa’s own Raven painting from last year, and had there been a print available I would have had one!
Round to F11 Eva Wibberley and Friends, and after German apple cake and tea in the cool green garden I enjoyed Sue Wood’s mixed media botanical canvases with a sketch book feel and Ben Barker’s ancient world creamy green ceramics.
i21 Art at 23 is another new arrival and another splendid house, hosting an eclectic show including Sonya Pettigrew’s images of ballet and Lainey Powell’s textile creations from recycled treasured fabrics.
F9 John Whiting for a painterly show featuring work in oils, pastels, charcoal, inks and prints by Whiting, Pip Adams and Gabi Carr.
i22 Mrs B celebrates her tenth AOH, features the best shed in Brighton and an intriguingly extended house showcasing a wealth of crafts and paintings.
Round to i20 Fiveways of Seeing for an international show in a domestic setting, with painting from Venice and the Greek islands, pottery, portraits and still lifes.
Then to finish the day with F12 13 at 3 Found Objects, Fine Art. Another of those intriguing hillside-built Brighton houses with unexpected extra floors to visit. Driftwood, stone and beach-glass found and turned into sculpture, jewellery and wall hangings by Cece Mills and Naomi Sack, with plant sales in aid of Parkinson’s research.
Another helping of Hove Arts today, beginning with H7 Art at All Saints, a wealth of crafts and painting set out among the pews of a working and vibrant Victorian church with a very welcoming atmosphere and some magnificent 19th century wood and stone carving.
Then to H4 Tessa Wolfe Murray & Guests. This calm and engrossing venue is both home and studio, showing Tessa’s own muted, elegant and enigmatic work in ceramics; vessels, jewellery, wall panels and some very charming buttons from this prolific artist. Tim Gill ‘s nature photography featuring water and flowers was admired on the way up to the room in the roof for lemon cake, tea and good conversation.
Then down to the basement of a block of mansion flats for H5 Nigel French and Guests. Graphic artist and photographer French is showing striking black and white and photographs, and I particularly liked the Brighton Alphabet, created from photographing distinctive lettering from all round the city.
H6 51 Wilbury Road features John Beetham’s spectacular and highly popular cityscape paintings and Sussex landscapes, with sculpture, carvings, knits, textiles and glass in support.
Then H8 Kellie Miller Art and Design celebrating fifteen years at the Biscuit Studio in this authentic mews venue. This year, see work from her recent solo exhibition in Japan, featuring her collection of unique ceramic cups, chat with the artist and learn all about her work and inspirations.
Finally another stop off for refreshments at H1 The Wolf at the Door, where today we saw some wood-carving demonstrations
So ended the third weekend of AOH.
Just heard that Oxford also has an AOH festival, running at exactly the same time as Brighton. One for next year, perhaps?
Brighton and Hove Artists’ Open Houses week four
Another visit to Hove, first to i4 Dion Salvador Lloyd where we had attended the opening night party and wanted a further visit at a quieter time so we could view the richer colour developments of his more recent paintings in tranquillity.
H11 Albert Mews Studio is one of those 19th century Brighton mews developments that are as interesting as the work they house, and well worth a look. The studio at the back showed some sweet wire silhouette pigeons, merging Agnes Jones’ twin fields of artist blacksmithing and illustration.
To the Old Market for The Consciousness Engine, part of the curated House element of the AOH. The installation is certainly different, a walk through different rooms with sound and light telling an enigmatic story.
But for me, the House element sits uneasily with the rest of the AOH. Its subtitle ‘Art and domestic space’ simply does not describe what the event offers; there is little of the domestic about any of the venues [theatre, art gallery, shop window, studio space, etc].
H13 Osborne Vistas for a beach-themed show featuring Lucy Palmer’s driftwood and pebbles sculpture and David Streeter’s photography, especially beach huts and their locks, the ubiquitous pier and a graphically satisfying monochrome image of a bicycle chained to the seafront railings in the snow [my one postcard purchase this year].
Then to H15 Fellow Travellers, housed in a gorgeously corniced and turquoise-fireplaced mansion flat on the incredibly windy seafront, for jewellery, textiles and mixed media.
H16 Stables Studio is an award-winning venue. The ground floor is the working studio of actor, architect and theatre designer turned sculptor and artist Deryk Parkin and guests, showing a vast range of small-scale carvings in green and white stone. The studio leads into one of the AOH’s Best Gardens, a cool green oasis of pools, shelters, and harmonious sculptures. Then up the outdoor steps to the upstairs flat, somewhere between a captain’s cabin and a hobbit’s home for more works. This venue just has to be seen.
Brunswick Town’s BT4 Adrian Walker – Open Studio, into an old mews courtyard and upstairs to Adrian Walker’s cool white studio hung with his pale pastel Turner-esque seascapes, full of cloud, atmosphere and light.
Today I stopped off at Dyke Road Arts on the way down to Kemptown. DR2 Nine By Nine has made the Latest Homes Long List, and is a house that loves letters, numbers and words in all their forms. Who’d have thought that the Shipping Forecast could create such an elegant piece of artwork?
Neighbouring D1 Milton House, a new venue, has lots of crafts, jewellery, paintings and hats to offer.
Right over the other side of town to Kemp Town K2 Faith In The City A Sense Of Place. A modern Methodist church with some terrific architectural features, we were disappointed that the exhibition was already being taken down as we arrived before the close of the festival , but enjoyed especially Shirley Veater’s hand painted ‘stained glass’ window panels.
At K7 Kelly Sweeney and Co, Kelly’s screen-printed stags and owls, and Reuben Kyte’s wood and metal outdoor sculpture looking like a giant spear hurled into the grass were most memorable.
Then to K6 Towerblock Art The Highest Exhibition for Serena Sussex’s lightning photography from her 9th floor balcony viewpoint, and enigmatic landscapes with a gorgeous glow and an oriental feel. Patrick Bremer’s Satyr collage was a powerful last image as we left the venue.
K4 The House of Curiositea is a basement flat with an extraordinary anatomy and, this week, a rock ‘n’ roll style. The girls’ fifties outfits, music and activities made it feel more like an event than an artists’ open house – but entertaining, especially Saffron Reichenbacker’s black and white glamour girl prints.
Bank Holiday Monday and the last day of the AOH. Not all houses open today, but all Hove Arts houses have obligingly scheduled to open, as have some of the independents, so we had one last artistic fling before Christmas, starting at Hove Arts H3 Polish and Pin for tea and the Flutterby bakery’s very pretty and delicious [if rather expensive] cupcakes .
Then round to i13 The Rock ‘n’ Roll Boudoir, for vintage rockabilly style and Hollywood inspired prints, especially Kitty Finegan’s Save Saltdean Lido Art Deco style prints.
A return visit to H7 Art at All Saints church, and the chance to look around again brought us into conversation with Royston Hawley, a prolific artist who works in oils producing seascape paintings driven and inspired in part by personal experiences. I felt reminded of Norse, Welsh and Ancient Greek myths and legends. For our first original art purchase, we chose a moody rocky scene, reminiscent of the clashing rocks of Ancient Greek mythology.
H9 Gallery City Retreat, Val Fawbert’s home, studio and intriguing garden, is showing her striking large-scale palette knife paintings and prints of mountains, trees and lakes. Big, graphic and powerful responses to landscapes.
H10 The Claremont Hotel is hosting thirty artists throughout its corridors, bedrooms and public rooms. A clever way to show off a most attractive hotel [and its beautiful bathrooms], with Claire Fletcher’s nostalgic seaside watercolours especially bringing back memories of childhood book illustrations.
i7 22 Third Avenue is showing artist and architect Peter Hayes’ fast, cheerful, cartoony pen and ink drawings of houses and Brighton buildings.
Then back to All Saints to collect our painting and stroll home, so ending our 2011 May Artists’ Open Houses event.