Saturday 24th May
Rottingdean + Downs 4: The Grange Art Gallery
A threatening weather forecast and torrential rain this morning, but we decided to strike out to Rottingdean by bus for the art exhibition at the Grange. Just as we arrived the sun came out, so naturally our first stop was the old walled garden for apple cake, ice cream and a pot of tea. Upstairs for the exhibition in the William Nicholson Art Gallery – my favourites:
Julie Elliott – Quiet, delicate watercolours – the purple-toned seascape ‘After the Storm’
Philip Sugg – miniature theatres
Graham Fletcher – gutsy oil paintings of men at work, farriers, shire horses and ‘real’ people. ‘Iron, Lead, Wood, Stone and Light’ especially struck a chord
Jan Mnich – detailed botanical watercolour ‘Shannopin Iris’
Zan Stevenson – oil painting ‘Pooh Sticks’ escaping onto the frame
Amanda Davidson – dreamy pen and wash ‘The Old Fortress Kassiopi Corfu’
Back onto the bus to Brighton’s Lewes Crescent, a work of art in itself, and round to
Kemptown 10: Rock Apartment
The brochure calls it this a ‘fabulous apartment’, and it’s justified. Prolific artists Ethne Greenfield Clarke and Lyndsey Pearson’s exhibition illustrate their travels and love of dance, and their sketchbooks are just fascinating to leaf through. Belle Hamilton’s jewellery, too – a real joie de vivre at this venue.
Kemptown 9: Number 3
A house with a history, hosting Maggie Barradell’s striking oils – loved the appropriately threatening clouds of ‘Push on Through’
Downstars for an unexpected Mad Hatter’s tea party – tea and miniature cakes for a donation to Rockinghorse appeal.
Kemptown 8: Tony Mills and Friends
To this great corner apartment on the seafront, next.
Emma de Polnay – dancers’ movement and poses captured with a swift, deft touch.
Tony Mills – impressions of his travels in Britain and the USA; dark and stormy skies, a twister, angry clouds and redeeming light.
Fringe Venue 178: Jay Collins
We spotted a helpful banner and followed it to this venue, showcasing Jay Collins paintings of Brighton, especially the pub series always painted from life, never from photos. Gouache, watercolours and woodcuts.
Sunday 25th May
Star venue: Beyond the Level 10: Glass in Fusion
Always a treat and one of my star venues, this pair of working artists’ studios again features:
Brighton Artist of the Year Caia Matheson – enter this oil painter’s studio and you’re instantly surrounded by paint, including floor, ceiling and sofa, and fascinating multi-layered colours and tones – especially liked ‘Wisdom Lies Beneath the Light’ and Caia’s new series of petite sun-dappled green forests ‘Shimmer’, ‘Manifesting’ and ‘All That Glitters.’
Stephanie Else – my favourite glass designer, showing wall panels and platters, jewellery and dishes, in her glorious trademark colour and metallic sheen so often inspired by the sea.
Ptolemy Elrington – imaginative hub cap creatures
Chocadyllic – chocolate art
Beyond the Level 9: 99
Enter an idyllic English crafty world, a hive of activity with dainty, quirky fun stuff everywhere: fairies, ceramics, jewellery and clothes and and the best cake of the month – lime and coconut cake in the tea garden, complete with utterly charming his and her sheds. Particularly attractive:
Helaina Sharpley – 3D wire ‘drawings’ of cups and spoons on their own little hooks
Beyond the Level 8: Jennifer Beresford
Jennifer Beresford – meticulously observed Dungeness and Brighton scenes in incredible detail
Chris Burchell Collins – garden sculptures in rusted metal and weathered wood
Fiveways 12: David Williams and Guest Artists
Landscapes, sea and sky in hyper-realistic colour-enhanced acrylics.
Through the sculpture and ceramic garden to the studio for sketchbook works in progress.
Fiveways 11: Rex Matthews
Elegant house showing painting, sculpture and ceramics. Favourites here:
Claire Morris – sculptures in Portland stone and white Carara marble in the garden
Peta Taylor – delicate brush and pen studies of woodland scenes
Fiveways 10: Sylph Baier
A smaller, more intimate show than in previous years, featuring Sylph’s 50’s-toned tableware and a selection of guest ceramicists.
Beyond the Level: 12 Ravenswood
A great selection of visual arts here, and for me the highlight was the chance to see Chris Riddell’s children’s book illustrations beside some of his published books. Liked the idea of selling black and white prints for £1 for charity for children to colour.
We finished our day passing several hours back at Caia Matheson’s closing Pimms party.
Monday 26th May
A few venues, notably Hove Arts, were still open today.
Hove Arts 1: Dion Salvador Lloyd
A return visit to Dion’s accomplished show and the news that two of his paintings, Lullaby and Totora, have been accepted for the Royal Academy’s 2014 summer exhibition.
An accomplished show, as ever, from this nationally-exhibited artist. The natural palette of muted tones are inspired and echoed by arrangements of shell, flint, driftwood and bone throughout Dion and Emma’s home, recently featured in the new book, ‘Home for Now’ by Joanna Thornhill.
Donating a painting on a postcard to Martlets Hospice and Rotary Club mystery art auction in June 2013 inspired Dion to create more swift, of-the-moment smaller scale oils on paper, a terrific contrast to his established style of oils layered and built up over time. ‘Hibernia,’ a hefty moody stormy oil on canvas, deserves its centre stage.
Ceramic pieces by Gilles le Corre and Ian Gregory complement the painting.
Hove Arts 10: 9a Hove Place
A spacious apartment with a real wow factor. Ceramic that looks like wood, painting that looks like stone – a harmonious blend of texture and tone referencing the ancient world and a range of different cultures. Particularly loved Margrit Clegg’s multi-media paintings in earth tone and texture, with a feel of Ancient Greek temples and sunbaked stone.
Hove Arts 9: Unseen Splendour
Sadly, this venue was unable to open this year – hope to see the show next Festival.
Hove Arts 8: Boxbird Studios
Another welcoming working studio, home to printers and illustrators, opening for the first time. We bought a copy of Wishing for Tomorrow, by Hilary McKay [a sequel to ‘A Little Princess’], illustrated by exhibitor Nick Maland. Also noticed Graham Carter’s gold foil owl print and ‘Yeti Hibernation’
Star Venue: Brunswick Town 10: George Douglas at 14 Sillwood
And appropriately we end our 2014 Artists’ Open House festival with a return visit to our favourite venue, for us, the hit of the festival.
After my first visit, I wrote:
‘The house tells the extraordinary story of Speedy George Douglas, one of the photography greats, whose archive has been preserved, restored and now shown in its rightful place; his own home. A highly desirable house, showing fascinating monochrome imagery of some of the most famous faces of the 20th century. Film stars, writers and fashion icons, starlets, showgirls and Goons – he photographed them all. Enjoy the photograph of Mary Quant while you sit on her very own leather sofa.
Helpful descriptions and quotations, all looking as if they have been bashed out on a vintage typewriter, his own cameras and faded hand-prints add to the atmosphere, amid spanking new prints from the original negatives.
It seems his heirs have only scratched the surface of the story and the archive – the tantalising news is that they are still digging more out of boxes and that there will be more pictures coming for the final weekend. We’ll be back to this major discovery of international importance in social and artistic history.’
We returned to see twelve more new pictures to complete May’s show – just a fraction of the work waiting to be revealed.
And on that note …. see you at Christmas 2014.