A new Dyke Road Arts house, The Holistic House . My first note was “Wow!” This house needs to be seen. Set rather further out from the main trail than the map would suggest, the whole house has a spiritual feeling and it’s worth the walk.
The sculpture lawn drifts into surrounding woodland and is peopled with willowy figures by Ginger Gilmor. Then into the sitting room, a quiet haven for Hellen Morris-Clarke’s jewellery and live music. The hall hosts Gill Orsman’s photography, and bright embellished fantasy paintings by Claire Johnson.
To finish, a smart kitchen complete with waitresses serves afternoon tea. [One small jam and cream scone and tea is £3. A thought … perhaps better not to serve the jam and cream on top of the paper napkin, though]
The Dog House  is back after a year off. Rhoda Kay Baker’s sculptural white paperscapes, cut and folded hanging pieces catch the light and shade and Linda Calvert’s translucent white ceramic lamps inspired by wet sand on beaches caught the eye. Upstairs to the loft studio for cream teas [£3] before heading for home.
Then round to 56 Tivoli Crescent , the house on the side of a hill with two storeys invisible from the front. A room full of Chris Hill’s pastel acrylic Brighton scenes echoed the house’s fabulous views over the whole city.
The Trojan House  is hosted by artist Troy Ohlson. Her new pieces, including a quartet of bright acrylic landscapes, join her established wildlife work. I was very taken with two moonlit paintings; “Doves in Love”, a muted night time image and the striking “Midsummer Evening Hyde Park”. Guests include Howard Young, whose Maltese stone carving “Within” looked superb in the garden.
The Wolf at the Door  has just had a new extension built. Destined to be the new kitchen, for the festival it’s a light airy gallery space. Highlights include owner Jill Tattersall’s handmade paper painting [I liked “Vitis Vinifera” very much] and Campoli & Nelson’s sinuous silver and bright glass pieces.
Polish and Pin  is a house dedicated to reclaiming, re-imagining,and recreating works from re-cycled objects. The house is full to the brim with plenty to see and buy; I particularly noticed Anne French’s superhero contemporary decoupage furniture and Carola del Mes’ vintage teapots recreated as lamps and clocks.
Next on to Collectors’ Selection , a great favourite. This effortlessly civilised and beautifully presented house is the home of some serious sculpture and a wealth of paintings.
To the conservatory and garden for the sculpture trail, where I found Olivia Ferrier’s rackety, raggedy black bronze ravens and wanted the whole flock of them. The ground floor features pleasures everywhere you look, especially Hazel Reeve’s white plaster head “Adam”. Then on and up for Diane Brandrett’s delicate window views and folding screen, and a celebration of the life and work of the late Cyril Mount. This house is consistently excellent, always a highlight.
Saturday 4th MayStaying with Hove Arts for now, after a rainy breakfast in Hove, our first visit was to a newcomer, 49a Hova Villas  to meet South African artist Andrew James Hofmeyr at home. A charming touch was the avenue of umbrellas suspended overhead leading us into his garden flat, which has perhaps one of the best garden features in town – the church next door.
Two very different styles to enjoy here, reminiscent of the best children’s book illustrations: first, the large scale paintings on mellowed recycled scaffolding board. Featuring domestic Brighton terraces, half-familiar landmarks and little glimpses into windows, the works are haunted by ever-present foxes and gulls. We share the city with wildlife and Hofmeyr’s work celebrates the connection.
At the other end of the scale, I also loved “Spring Fox”, an intricate black and white line drawing of a fox and ducks in the countryside.
Our second preview event was at Kellie Miller‘s  welcoming working Biscuit Studio tucked into Wilbury Grove mews; for cheese, wine and muffins and a private view of her latest work. We just missed the mayor’s visit. Particularly attractive were the 3D pieces, especially farm animals in tranquil porcelain fields, and “Follow your path”, an avenue of trees in oil and gesso.