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.