Christmas 2013: Weekends, 30th November to 15th December. New reviews each day.
A wealth of artists open houses and studios to visit for unique Christmas gifts, cards, ideas and inspirations
We’re attending some private views this evening – look out for our reviews over the next two weekends.
Some houses are very warm, as a welcome to visitors coming out of the cold, so be aware if you are boldly striding around town in your winteriest boots and woolies!
Themes I’ve noticed – fairies are in… and there are quite a few venues not in the brochure but all form part of the Brighton and Hove open house and studio experience this Christmas so I’ve included some here.
Christmas AOH Brochure: first impressions
There are 49 venues this Christmas, as ever, a smaller, lighter presence than the country’s biggest arts festival that is the May AOH. I noticed brave Venue number 1 in the otherwise art-desert that is the north-west quarter of Brighton. Those with cars, please support! There’s a surprising blank drawn around Fiveways, the longest established area, save an honourable mention for the little enclave of Venues 41- 44 beyond the Ditchling Road. Otherwise, the houses, studios and other venues are evenly spread around town.
Friday November 29th
Our Christmas 2013 AOH kicks off with private views this evening. We visited two; Venue 11 – Dion Salvador Lloyd and Venue 37, House of Dragarazzi.
Venue 11 – Dion Salvador Lloyd
Lloyd, a prolific self-taught artist, is a regular Open House exhibitor.
For his Christmas event this year, further energised by a project in support of the Martlets Hospice, he’s been exploring the world on a smaller scale, showing his resulting new earth, sea and sky-inspired miniature oils on paper.
The changing moods of sea and sky are ever-present, as is the artist’s connection with music.
Simple, elegant presentation in an earth-toned environment, home to the artist’s arrangements of skulls, antlers, shells, stones, books and music.
Tiny paintings deep-framed and clustered together, with little things – keys, seedpods, stones – all part of the display.
There’s a warm welcome, with children, a dog and a buzzy atmosphere at tonight’s party; an effortless hospitality with mulled wine and mince pies.
Take a look through the albums, too, and see just some of Lloyd’s story as an established collected artist.
Venue 37, House of Dragarazzi
Over to photographer Frederike de Jonge’s Open House private view next, for a glass of wine, good conversation and friendly cats.
de Jonge’s characterful, mysterious and other-worldly reportage and portrait photography – glamour in the midst of the puddles, a resting drag queen curled up in skyscraper heels and some enigmatic Venetian maskers are particularly memorable.
rubandagar – Bright, graphic contemporary prints a great and harmonious contrast, we loved the spiky cat face
Missy le-Pink’s organic handmade beauty products and lots of little gifts and cards, too.
Saturday 30th November
Venue 5 – Studio 106
Managed to fit one venue in today, but it’s a big one with lots to see here. Cartoons, drawings, paintings and more … A busy working studio with 17 working artists showing in their intriguing individual work spaces. There’s a real sense that the artist has just cleared up but could pick up a brush and get working here at any moment.
Particularly of note:
Katie Greenland – shadowy oil paintings of eerie spotlit clown faces
Grizelda – topical gag line drawing cartoons, often published and always sharp and funny
Dong Li-Blackwell – striking large scale watercolour porn
Ele Pack – pale, tranquil canvases
Maria Tribe – gilded, layered impressionistic peacock, Brighton and butterfly images
Sunday 1st December
Venue 38 – Winter Fox
This Victorian house built on an urban hillside boasts a marvellous view over the city at dusk.
The front door opens into the middle storey, showing Joy Fox’s layered button jewellery and Sarah Young’s striking black and white prints [especially the raven]. Downstairs to the rather wantable kitchen for Victor Stuart Graham’s wood assemblages; rows of houses and seascapes, wall and freestanding pieces, and Judith Rowe’s farmhouse-style green and cream domesticware pottery.
The show is beautifully presented; a house full of full of art and craft and little things for the home.
Saturday 7th December
Wolf at the Door Christmas Fair
Today is Small Business Saturday, and the perfect excuse to visit some more artists’ open houses. Before hitting the AOH Christmas trail itself we kicked off with the Wolf at the Door’s Christmas fair. Close to Hove Station – open tomorrow, too.
This great Victorian house is going through a transformation – visit the light, airy kitchen extension dislaying Campoli and Nelson’s sleek silver and glass jewellery, silver stream candleholders formed over smooth beach pebbles, each unique, and iridescent glass bowls.
Simeon Smythe’s 2D cutout metalwork Christmas hangings.
Graywood Products is a sustainable small business, the owners of a wood. Liked the rustic/urban style of the sliced bark-edged log tealight holders.
Take a look at Jill Tattersall’s working studio and make your way upstairs for more of Jill’s pieces – rich textured handmade paper, printed and painted, blue green and gold layered botanical inspirations with a mediaeval apothecary’s scientific notebook feel. My favourite piece – ‘Vitis Vinifera’.
A great contrast next; Vicky Mappin’s detailed botanical paintings, prints and textiles in engrossing detail and depth. Her delicate salad studies are gorgeous!
Mary Rayner’s [writer and artist, author of Garth Pig books] dreamy blue and white seascapes,
Gail Bennet’s plein air sea and sky paintings and Judith Berrill’s nostalgic paintngs celebrating Sussex Walks.
Rebecca Jenkins warm-textured little ceramic birds, each embossed with a real leaf print.
Alice Bennett’s Small Bird Singing textile and paper jewellery.
Finishing off with some of Taradakini’s sparkly sloe gin and apple cupcakes [£1].
Venue 34 – Cecil Rice
A long established star of the AOH movement, Rice has been working over the summer heatwave and autumn to produce his latest show, studying water, sky, buildings and light, Brighton and Venice city and nature together.
‘October Pier’ – all movement, the Palace Pier in thundering waves, shafts of light breaking through the clouds to spark up the surface seafoam
‘Windsurfer’ – a darker, calmer sea here, all about the depth beneath the fragile man made toy
‘Peace Statue After Snow’ – a Hove landmark in glowing pink and gold
Venue 32 – Art Across the Line
A real sense of theatre in this house overflowing with Christmassy inspiration.
Every surface offers something new to look at – I particularly liked:
Anna Pugh’s soft unstructured natural and metallic leather pouch bags decorated with vintage-look brooches
Johnny Woodfords’ chunky smooth wooden pieces, especially the wooden hanging stars
Sylph Baier’s 50’s pastel ceramic home wares
And a glass of mulled wine while you browse.
Venue 33 Salon des Sources
Variety abounds here, and some attractive contrasts with three makers of jewellery a particular standout:
Helen Dunman’s striking neckpieces in recycled leather – Mad Max goes glam
Jana Reinhardt’s dainty, delicate little gold and silver pieces, all demure and shy
Rebecca Ann Lee’s hyperrealistic lace jewellery – it took a touch to realise they really are silver!
A note – the rather low light in this house made it a little difficult to see everything clearly as the evening drew in.
Venue 36 The Compton Collective
Upstairs to the flat to enjoy smaller-scale painting, photography and print and a glass of mulled wine.
Loved Pru Heath’s misty and atmospheric watercolours, studies of land, sea and sky in impressionistic moods