As a new resident of Brighton & Hove I was unaware of the scale of the Artists Open Houses. During my first May in the city (2017) I visited a lot of the venues and discovered what huge variety there was to be found in both the venues and the artists. Because it takes place in May and is part of the Brighton Festival I found the whole city to be awash with creative events. It was exciting.
My first step as a newbie was to find out more about the whole thing so I joined Artists Open Houses as an ‘Artist Seeking Houses’. This meant that as an artist I had artwork but I needed a venue. This suited me as we were living in rented accommodation in Brighton whilst hunting for the right ‘artist friendly’ house, but I had placed all of my work in accessible storage.
I was really pleased when my work was selected by Coralie Maynard, the curator at The Claremont in Hove. When we spoke I discovered that she was looking for a number of large works to display throughout the accommodation from November to April. This was great news as I had a selection of originals and framed prints that would finally see the light of day. So this became my first foray into Artists Open Houses with 20 works forming part of The Claremont Christmas Open House.
THE NEW HOUSE
By now my husband and I have found a handsome Victorian house in Hove and moved in. All stations are go as we are surrounded by painters, builders and removals boxes. There are also exciting plans in place for creating the new art studio….then it all stops. The wall that we want to remove to join two small rooms into one large, airy art studio is structural… or is it?! It took some time to work out but it turned out that a number of steels would be needed to keep the roof in place. This meant a serious time delay. What should have been finished in September went on…..and on….!
However, during this time we met lots of local artists, and one in particular, Jill Tattersall, a near neighbour at Wolf at the Door, was extremely helpful and persuaded me to push forward to open my own Artists Open House in May 2018. A scary prospect but I’ve always believed that as an artist you should explore every avenue!
The road ahead involved joining Hove Arts which was amazing as I met all of the artists involved in all 21 venues. It was very informative and very social. I learned so much from these experienced Open House Artists. For the first time in my life I have moved into a new area and made so many new friends who all live and work close by.
Armed with so much knowledge and a paintbrush we spent the Spring finishing the art studio, redecorating the hall, stairs and landing and then finally, bringing home all of the paintings, prints, paints and canvases that had lived in storage for a year! It was so nice to be reunited with my work. However, when we started to hang the work we realised that we would need more space once I had collected the remaining pictures from The Claremont, so my husband kindly donated his office, which we redecorated and made into the main gallery room.
Artists Open Houses began in earnest on May 5th 2018. For four weekends and two Bank Holiday Mondays we opened our home to the art loving people of Sussex. It was exciting, interesting, social, neighbourly, and absolutely exhausting! But also addictive. We loved it. My husband and I met our neighbours, other artists, strangers.
People enjoyed seeing the house with its stained glass windows and tall ceilings and they loved being surrounded by my bright, floral paintings.
I particularly enjoyed spending my time on the top floor in the new artists studio. I re-familiarised myself with my paints and brushes and took some time to create a couple of new paintings. I chatted to people about my practice and how I work. They could see the photographs that I take as reference and see how I evolve my paintings. There was also some discussion about how I would complete the unfinished paintings hanging on the wall!
Artists Open Houses was a great experience and I am very much looking forward to taking part again in 2019. We will have guest artists too so watch this space...