Like last year, our Festival began on Friday evening, with a visit to Dion Salvador Lloyd’s [i6] private view of new contemporary landscape and abstract paintings influenced by the interplay of light, shadow and cloud.
On Saturday morning, after braving the drizzly grey weather which would take hold for the entire Bank Holiday weekend, we enjoyed a veggie breakfast at Hove Station cafe, then took in Makers’ Boutique [i5] first, and met Bean, the balloon-popping Jack Russell who welcomed us into this friendly flat showing a selection of seaside-themed handmade art and craftwork.
Next we headed for Hove Arts, where we discovered the Hove-trotter passport, the official sticker-collection pass specially for children, who might win a prize in the Hove Arts quiz.Beginning with our cluster of highly recommended venues by the station, this group of imposing Victorian villas is full of detail and interest:
Polish and Pin [h4] This house, complete with a fox sauntering casually about the garden, is something special. A diverse show, with the common theme that everything is made from recycled and reclaimed materials: Tom Simpson’s nostalgic Atomic Robots created from cast off parts from classic cars, Treacle Furniture breathe new life into old chairs with new upholstery and paint, Meriel Ensom shows detailed wildlife paintings on salvaged driftwood and Anne French re-creates old wooden chairs with clever decoupage comic book heroes.
Collectors’ Selection [h2] is a painterly home full of books, instruments and plants, showing paintings, sculpture and wood-carving throughout house and garden. John Baldwin’s hand-carved model pocket knives featuring gargoyles, angels and gothic windows, Simon Royer’s Wave Study oil paintings and Olivia Ferrier’s black and gold leaf sculpted ravens perched on reclaimed sea groynes particularly stood out.
A new home for The Wolf At The Door [h3] which has moved just round the corner and stationed their fearsome wrought iron wolf in its new front garden. Highlights include Campoli Nelson’s sea pebbles trailed with silver forming elegant candlesticks, Si Uwins imagined seed pods decorating the vegetable garden and Roland Miles’ vintage children’s books collected into handmade wooden book cases, each unique. Tea and little cakes for £1
Sunday continued the Dyke Road Arts trail, starting with the Gloobah House, showing a selection of crafts, printed textiles and Sharyn Esteves’ luxe printed silk scarves.
One Must Dash – Lacy fiigree ponchos, Love of words and letters
Nine by Nine – Letters and print typeface
Milton House – Standout Lisa Green painting, water colours and prints
Then over to Kemptown to enjoy the vintage commercial vehicle rally right outside JAG Gallery and Open Studio  on the seafront. This community of artists’ spaces under the arches on Madeira Drive features work by many artists including Eve Poland, Barry Hinchliffe and Jacqueline Hammond.
Tony Mills and Friends [K10] is showing some epic and atmospheric acrylic sky paintings in his impressive seafront flat [check out the little curved door!]
Then to an independent venue at 8 Eastern Terrace Studio where Jay Collins shows meticulously detailed and evocative Brighton paintings.
The Studio – College Road [K9] is another working mews studio, showing Philon’s striking paintings in abstract blocks of colour and white.
Nearby another independent, 31 Art at 31a College Road, caught our eye, especially Mike Higgins’ leafy gleaming green ceramic bowls.
Bank Holiday Monday: As Hove Arts were all open on Monday, we headed that way again for more. It’s very convenient when all the houses on one trail agree to the same opening times and days, avoiding disappointment for visitors.
Creative and Affordable [h1] is a smart Hove villa, featuring sculpture and metal work in the garden, Christine Howitt’s light and water-inspired stained glass and Caroline Marsland’s detailed and realistic acrylic painting. Tea and cakes £1.50.
Tessa Wolfe-Murray and Guests [h7] is another well established Hove venue, featuring host Tessa’s tactile smoky-hued ceramic wall plaques, clocks, vases and jewellery. Decorative metalwork by Simeon Smythe includes small scale standing metal pieces inspired by fish, birds and water, delicate shoals and moonlit landscapes. Fleur Grenier offers the natural world in metal, flowers, conkers and shells.
Nigel French and Guests [h8] show Brighton and London inspired alphabets, pub sign collages and Americana, photography and print in this welcoming and popular basement flat location.
51 Wilbury Road [h9] Highlights include Ali Nightingale’s Alice in Wonderland and Victorian themed decoupage heads, clocks and frames and John Beetham’s paintings of Brighton seafront, and landmarks, European travel and skyscraper scenes, reminiscent of book illustrations and theatre and film sets.
Kellie Miller [h11] once again opens her working mews studio to visitors to show her calm and peaceful ceramic pieces including arial view wall plaques and elegant tableware.
Art at All Saints [h10] is a group show in a church, where you can admire the art and the 19th architecture all in one visit. Royston Hawley’s dramatic seascape paintings, and Sue Penrose’s sparkling mosaics are particular highlights here.
Albert Mews Studio [h15] is a friendly studio space where you can watch glam hats being made and enjoy a wide selection of craft work.
The Claremont [h14] Hotel is almost entirely open to visitors who can wander round the covetable bedrooms, bathrooms and the lounge [which was of course serving tea and cakes], admiring work throughout, including Dylan Floyd’s mixed media leopard – with horns.
Eve Poland and Elizabeth O’Donnell [h13] have moved to a new venue. Particularly liked the mirror frame encrusted with toy action figures painted gloss black, the naughty boudoir ladies and sullen kitties screen prints.
We introduced our Swedish house guest to the concept of Open House today, beginning with a return visit to One Must Dash and a chat with the two resident Swedish artists.
Then towards the sea front to enjoy the lovely weather. En route we found out about the Underground Open House Art Movement, a new arts collective of rogue independents launching in May. See their website at www.uoham.co.uk for details of the UOHAM venues across Brighton and Hove.
The Broken Biscuit Society art group at 48 Wilbury Road is part of UOHAM. Visiting an Open House really is about the people and the place just as much as the work on show, and this family-friendly venue is a great example of the concept. An artistic creative and green-fingered community, showing together in this welcoming, relaxed house. We enjoyed tea and cake [£2] in the gorgeous urban woodland garden with bunting strung round the trees and canine welcoming committee, then took in the show including vintage cameras turned into lamps and closeup detailed photography shown on widescreen TV. My favourite was a study of feathery sparkling dandelion seeds.
Then to Studio 323 [bt1], situated in one of the mansion apartments on beautiful Palmeira Square. On arrival we were greeted by a guide in the lobby and handed a leaflet on the history of the house – built 1860, complete with imposing Victorian lift and a huge stone fireplace [possibly with a Lord Byron connection] in the hall. Well worth a read if you’re interested in Brighton history and architecture.
Studio 323 is showing in what was once the principal drawing room of no. 32, and is now a working photographic studio. Work includes Helen Holland’s fascinating miniature beach huts, each decorated in its own style, especially appealing to appeal to lovers of dolls’ houses and model stage sets. Melissa Simpson’s substantial and elegant leather goods including bags, belts and purses, Ted Davis’ vibrant close up photographic studies of fading flowers and Richard P Cook’s detailed watercolour views of land, water and boats.