AOH 2016 – fifth weekend

Our visits to houses over the final weekend

A brief trail report for us this weekend. Our house guest had asked for a guided tour so we’ve revisited quite a few of the houses we’ve already covered, including Wolf at the Door, Dion Salvador Lloyd, Milton House, Glass in Fusion and Cecil Rice, along with some we hadn’t been to yet this year.

Final weekend impressions … have felt a little put off by several times being told ‘there is art for sale all round the house and the garden … ‘ I understand that’s the goal for all artists, but I don’t need to be prodded quite so much.

I’ve found I most enjoy the houses that keep to the Artist’s Open House ethos. I’ve felt most at ease when I’ve clearly come into the artist’s home, have the chance to meet them and chat about their work, and don’t feel as if I’ve strayed into a gallery or department store. I do wonder if the cost of appearing in the brochure drives a need to have as many guest artists as possible?

Each year there seems to be something that pops up quite frequently, and I noticed this year the image of Frida Kahlo appearing in paintings, prints and jewellery by several artists.

The cupcake seems to have had its day …


Seven Dials venue 11: The Magic Lamp


Up to this pretty, friendly lamplit flat on Dyke Road, for small scale gifts in digital, paint and thread for friends and home.


Rubandagar’s striking shadow and flaming tree painting

Caroline Jones’s sleek wood work

Seven Dials venue 8: Salon des Sources

An engrossing exhibition, particularly strong on ceramics and wearable art jewellery


Jaq Buckeridge’s Chinese – inspired ceramics

Kate Hackett’s  Brighton ceramics with a Swallows and Amazons nautical air

Caroline Smith’s Decorated Woman power pieces – confident statement necklaces

Steve Carroll’s prints with vintage spaceman style

And I absolutely loved Rosie Odette’s powerful and striking gem-dotted gold bangle

Seven Dials venue 7: Family Art Line

Ruffell and Slade and friends welcome visitors to home and garden again this year – they’re a long established family show. Visit the garden studio for paintings and prints too.


CR dynamic London oils

Frances Doherty’s garden ceramics have real presence

Beyond the Level venue 9: The Stanley Road Store

Quirky clothes and vintage jewellery, textiles, lamps, plants for sale and a fun portrait tent in the garden. A bit of an ‘everything must go’ feel with prices-slashed announcements to each visitor …

Beyond the Level venue 8: Circus at the Circus!

Curtis Tappenden’s solo residency at the Circus Coffee House documents his time spent around circus artistes, capturing moments of their performances with energy, humour and speed.

Beyond the Level venue 10: 38 Viaduct

Pausing only to admire the vintage steam roller parked outside the Duke of York, we headed up Viaduct Road next to see Judy Martin’s adventures among characters, catacombs and corpses captured in pen and ink, biro and watercolour – swift portraits of life and death. Particularly struck by the Him series – little studies of the mediaeval mummies of Palermo.

Beyond the Level venue 7: Glass in Fusion



As the last few minutes of the last day of the 2016 Artists Open Houses festival ticked away, we dropped in for a revisit and a catchup with one of our favourite venues, where Stephanie Else creates the most marvellous glass.

Next stop Christmas …

AOH 2016 – fourth weekend

Our thoughts from the fourth weekend.

After last weekend’s lightweight effort, this weekend has turned into quite an epic trail!

A slightly complicated day, crossing over the interface between Fiveways and Beyond the Level, with the odd Independent added to the mix.


Beyond the Level Venue 6: 99


A cool rainy day today, and our first stop, beginning with tea and cake [£6.50 for two] in the secret tea nook in the pretty cottage-style garden. Fab bohemian bathroom, and pretty things to wear and give abound.


Captivated by Nikki Ward’s boxed works melding vintage cut-out butterflies and moths with little leather purses – the purse opened and the moths fly out.

Vanessa Conyer’s folded riveted ceramics with a languid air.

Fiveways Venue 5: Fire Fly Studio


A busy buzz in this working studio, with artists at work in a characterful community.

Abigail Wenyon’s miniature silver dog pendants

Chris Hawkins paintings, specially the budgies, and lino prints telling tall tales of the sea.

Fiveways Venue 6: House of Mander


Winner of Brighton Fringe Festival’s Visual Arts Award 2015.

This really is different. Mander is an artist deeply affected by world events, and his work reflects what’s happening today. Layers and layers of previous years’ work, discarded and decaying fairground carts and rides, leather-winged cherubs, concrete shotguns, antlers, rusting metal, images of religion, war and death all in one city back garden. He creates heavy duty images cast in concrete then repeats and repeats them as an onslaught of repetition to get the message home. This year, he responds to the drowning of refugee children with The Beach, a pebble stage featuring concrete sea defences, babies and dolphins. It’s a thoughtful and often disturbing experience, and we came out a bit quieter than we went in.

Beyond the Level Venue 4: ravenswood


A double-breasted Victorian villa with the sexiest cornice in town and a garden that could take a Shakespeare play … Tea and cakes £6 for two.

Jo Sweeting’s elegant carved alphabet pebbles

Chris Riddell’s friendly monsters – I’d have loved to see much more work from the Children’s Laureate

Jo Riddell’s moody etchings ‘Pylons’ and ‘Wood’

Fiveways Venue 5: Emily Boo and Friends

One note in my brochure just says HUGE. This house is fabulous and enormous, yet there’s very little sign that anyone actually lives here. Contemporary glass, furniture, ceramics, photography, print and paint suit the clean, uncluttered house style, and for me the highlights were Stacey Mancer-Knight’s characterful, detailed and textured gilded birds, bowls and brooches.

Fiveways Venue 4: Delicious Delights

Ceramics, jewellery, mosaic, collage, tin box art – a house that celebrates three dimensional art.


Carola del Mese’s rescued pewter teapots from all eras are embellished and given new life as homes for intricate models, jewels and clock mechanisms and displayed on vintage book plinths. A steampunk reimagining.

Fiveways Venue 7: 11 Rugby Road


Alice in Wonderland in a Fiveways flat – a ceramic mushroom dell in the front garden, a bathroom full of the adorable Crunkle sea urchin lamps, and a Mad Hatter tea party in the kitchen [cakes for donations].

Fiveways Venue 9: Plants and Dance

Frances Doherty’s sensual sculptural ceramic hollyhocks, delphiniums, plants and pods

Beyond the Level Venue 2: Hummingbird Studio

A welcoming atmosphere in the gallery, and a studio full of colour and clay.


Bebe Bird’s tiny tiny nesting bowls and lacy edge tealight holders

Bar Spurr’s energetic and free landscape paintings


Independent Venue 2: Benedict Ainscough Photography

One of those little places you’ve walked past a hundred times and never really noticed, this former 1960s police box comes back to life to host a new photography exhibition for the festival. We reckoned the front part might have been the bike park, and the back a warm stop-off for policemen on the beat.

Fleeting moments in time, captured glimpses of street, city and country life in shadow and light.

Fiveways Venue 19:Chevalier House

A friendly show features painting, embroidery, ceramics and textiles. The hightlights – such a great contrast between these two artists’ work, both inspired by landscape and forest:

Agnes Chevalier: Some stunning embroidered pictures, landscapes and woodlands, detail, light and shade. Loved the Tolkien feel of the great trees and mossy stones.

Hiroko Lewis: Oil and mixed media painting, glowing golden near-abstract woodlands.

Fiveways Venue 21: The Ceramic House


A former Best Open House award winner, this fascinating house is decorated throughout with Kay Aplin’s sturdy ceramic tiles and details. Bathroom, kitchen and garden all showcase ceramic art as part of everyday living, and guest artists from many different countries who all live on islands exhibit their responses to island life. Visit the multi level garden, gallery and shop. Sound performances also happening here.

Highlight: Loved Sardinian Delfina Emmanuel’s pretty, dainty sea creature-colonised teapots and bowls, delicately gilded and detailed.

Fiveways Venue 20: The Cicada House

Nick Orsborn and friends welcome you to a houseful of gifts, jewellery, painting, glass …

Highlight: Nick’s iridescent insect-inspired jewellery and sunny, joyful paintings

Fiveways Venue 18: Crescent House

Quirky papier mache creatures and a satisfying selection of painting, drawing and sculpture

Fiveways Venue 1: Anvil


A surprise – a working forge in a Brighton back garden, home to everything from a giant metal rhino and spiral-coated ram to sinuous small pieces for home and garden. Absolutely loved the dragon door knocker, and the elm and iron flower bench. It’s so great to see an ancient art alive and well in the city. Tea and cake £2.25.

Fiveways Venue 2: Art at 202

Birds, animals, sea life and plants are the main themes and inspirations throughout the house. Terrific metal, glass and ceramic sculpture inspired by sea creatures and seed pods in the covetable garden – do turn round and see the stingray on the wall.

Loved Polly Raynes sun-drenched sea paintings [and still giggling like an idiot at Harry Venning’s Clare in the Community cartoons … ]

Fiveways Venue 3: Upfunt House

One of those fabulous Victorian villas – a pleasure for original-features fans like me; the antique varnished wallpaper in the hall and stained glass window create a beautiful atmosphere. Jewellery, painting and photography, plus tea and cake in the garden £2.75.

Lovely to meet Nula Shearing whose parents ran Clothkits, the mail order company I remember Mum buying from when I was a child. Nula’s detailed art stamps produce Scandinavian-feel prints for fabric, wood and cards.

Fiveways Venue 8: Media Conflux

A great variety here; embroidered silk paintings, textiles, illustrations, photography and drawing. Particularly liked Pauline Findlay’s sea scenes, turquoise waves and silvery white foam frozen in fused glass.

Met a child here captivated by the idea that you can just walk into a house and buy anything … his parents may have some explaining to do …

Beyond the Level Venue 1: The BigForest Emporium

Two Edwardian chaps create their own world of felt animal brooches, sculptures, cushions and toys for the discerning grown-up. Lovely atmosphere here, quirky and fun.

Independent Venue 3: Artists on the Move

While some houses feel like shops or galleries, here a group of friends exhibit their work all together, the combination of print, sculpture, painting and textiles creating the feel of a collection that has grown harmoniously throughout the house.

Beyond the Level Venue 3: Preston Park Recovery Centre

A show by artists supported by the Southdown Mental Health Recovery Service.

Through the cow parsley bordering Preston Park, across the Park and home to watch the Chelsea Flower Show preview. May really is my favourite month.

AOH 2016 – third weekend

A brief third weekend

A very brief weekend, this one – we managed to fit a few open houses in, between other engagements.


Dyke Road Venue 5: Tower House Day Centre

[Not the Beyond the Level trail, as the brochure suggests].

This stunning Edwardian mansion, built originally for Edward VII’s jeweller, was left to the people of Brighton by a wealthy family on condition that it be used as a day care centre for the city.

Some eighty elderly and disabled people depend on this centre for a multitude of services, including good company.

We were appalled to learn that the council will be closing the centre this summer, to make budget cuts, and that two thirds of the users will have to try to find similar facilities and pay for it themselves.

Please do go along and see this great building and a terrific show, while you still can, as its fate is uncertain.

We enjoyed a traditional show of paintings, ceramics, embroidery and print, the highlights:


Louise Chatfield’s stormy seas and landscape oils

Carolyn Gibbs’ delicate botanical watercolours, especially Clematis Rouge Cardinale


Fiveways Venue 15: Stuart Bullen, Mark Findlay and Friends


This three storey Victorian house and garden just bursts with paintings, print, photography, textiles, sculpture and ceramics. Artists explore the themes of landscape and the male nude. There’s a working artist’s studio with imposing printing press, and be sure to go into the little terrace garden and up the steps to a big surprise – a gorgeous secret sculpture garden.

AOH 2016 Feature: The Mind Exhibition

Hove Venue 14: 8 Bishops Road Ellis Sykes


The Mind Exhibition

May 2016

“The Mind and Mental health are very current issues in our society, mental health still being poorly diagnosed, poorly understood and greatly underestimated in severity as a health problem. Having experienced the traumatic affects of Mental Health both through close friends and family, I wished to illustrate the struggle of the invisible diseases often stigmatised by society, leaving sufferers to struggle with the illnesses alone.


Expression is vital within the composition of my work, as it allows for emotive messages to be communicated, creating a relationship between the artwork and viewer. This is an essential requirement of all illustrative pieces. I pair this with a selection of vibrant, intense colour schemes. I feel bold, vivid colours help to express particular emotions and draw attention to focal points of a composition. The study of psychedelic artwork taught me that contrasting colours create vibrations and thus a surreal impact within pieces. The colours I selected influence the theme of mental health by intrinsically affecting our minds, both by colour psychology and through colour theory and the effect of contrasting colours upon one another.


Depth, layering and negative space are all essential devices used to create the effect of space in three dimensions and the perception of suspension. The line used is both bold and flowing, the contour of the smoke organic to represent the explosion of mental activity and create drama within the piece.


The exhibition was created via sketching upon plywood, cutting the shapes out with a jigsaw, sanding the edges, and rendering each using a multimedia of wax, watercolour and coloured pencils. The translucency of the watercolours over the grain of the wood creates an ethereal effect. This paired with the suspended effect of the 3D layers creates the perception of floating. Transporting the viewer into a dreamlike, perceptible portrayal of the mind.”

Ellis Sykes


Twitter: @ellissykes_art


Instagram: @ellisykes_art


AOH 2016 – second weekend

Our second weekend on the open house trails

It’s rapidly hotting up this weekend; perfect for open house and garden trailing. The Festival and Fringe launched on Friday, but for many of the open houses it’s already week two in what must be the most extensive AOH yet.

Note – Cecil Rice is open Saturdays and Sundays throughout May – the brochure has printed the wrong details.

Dyke Road Venue 4: The Trojan House


First to Troy Ohlson’s Pimms-welcoming house, scented with soaps and candles. See this award winning artist’s home studio – loved the ‘A hop a step and a jump’ raven picture – and her etchings, paintings, pretty things and prints featuring animals, landscapes and beautiful blues. Guest artists and makers offer clever plant pot holders, nuggety silver rings, ceramics, glass and gifts.

Dyke Road Venue 3: For The Man I Love


A new house opposite Troy’s featuring fairly sourced and curated gifts including Linescape’s Royal Pavilion architectural prints, grooming products, chocolates and cashmere scarves for the chap in your life. The gorgeous silver cufflinks would make great wedding party presents …

Dyke Road Venue 2: Art at the Good Shepherd


The church again hosts a small traditional group show.

Highlights include

Helen Brown’s meditative prints of the rolling South Downs

Helen Rawling’s charming animal watercolour studies

Alan White’s Jazz-age prints featuring flappers and musicians

Pausing only to take in ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ at the Duke of York …

Beyond the Level Venue 7: Glass in Fusion


See Stephanie Else’s superb glass in her own studio space. Her work ranges from iridescent little bowls, jewellery and window hangings, to important plaques and platters with a great sense of scale and weight. New peacock feather and stylised gold motifs, dark fiery tones mix with turquoise blue green of sea and sky, and crisp white bubbly foam.

Commissions and courses.

We’ll be featuring Stephanie’s work later this month.

Dyke Road Venue 1: Milton House


This trail favourite has moved house and taken its name and artists with it to a new Arts and Crafts home opposite the Church of the Good Shepherd. The owners have only been in their new home two months – huge respect for showcasing such a terrific show! We arrived at dusk for the private view, enjoying prosecco and popcorn and good conversation on the terrace [apparently there’s going to be a concert for dogs at the nearby BOAT theatre …]


Hoity Toity’s delicate jewellery with an ancient world feel

Lisa Green’s watercolour paintings and prints

If you only have a short window of trailing opportunity, these next three venues all in a row would be a great selection, with quite a variety of style, art and cake to enjoy:

Independent Venue 4: Dancing Shadows


The theme really is ‘dancing shadows’ here. St John’s Church hosts Annelies Clarke’s astonishing work in progress, illustrating and illuminating the tales and mysterious Revelations prophecies. She’s joined by Jose Heasman and Beth Midgley showing glowing glass lamps and candle holders, and paintings by the children of the Cedar Centre.

We had tea and cakes for a donation.

One of the joys of the Brighton AOH is the chance to visit such a variety of design and build styles from different eras of the city’s history. This area boasts a wealth of Victorian and Edwardian terraced and detached houses – the open houses art trail must be the best property advertisement around.

Next on the same road are a pair of neighbouring houses with matching architecture and very different styles.

Fiveways Venue 14: 2 Knoyle


Outside there’s a tea party on the lawn and a real family atmosphere round the tree house in the shady bluebell garden by the ceramic studio shed. Inside, lots of ideas for gifts and souvenirs; little ceramic creatures and tiles, painted feathers, textiles and beads.

We came back and had tea and cake £3 each for charity.

Fiveways Venue 13: Four Knoyle Road


An elegant gallery of paintings, sculpture and ceramics.


Some knowing and funny Grizelda cartoons on the stresses and obsessions of modern life

Loved Olivia Ferrier’s bronze ravens perched on garden forks and wood stumps

Sarah Perry’s graceful stoneware ceramics

Fiveways Venue 12: Theresa Winchester and Friends


Theresa Winchester’s storytelling lino prints reference nursery rhymes, fairytales and legends

Linda Ayres’ intricate steampunk-style brooches, layered and embellished with pictures and charms.

Check out the terraced garden, too.

Fiveways Venue 11: Eva Wibberley and Friends

Paintings and prints, etchings and sculptures


Newspaper fragments and sawdust mix in Debbie Zoutewelle’s thought-provoking collaged painting ‘You May Record Our Decay’, a dark, textured slice of environmental concern.

As the promised heatwave had hit, I headed back to St John’s church for yet more tea and cake and the chance to relax and review my visits this weekend, put in a few tweets and write up some notes. It’s a cool, tranquil space of course, with recorded music and a sense of calm to enjoy.

There are organ recitals every Saturday evening at 5.30 throughout the festival.