Artists' Open Houses

Originally uploaded by fred pipes
Yesterday I arose too late to make the Clarion bike ride, so resolved to visit some Open Houses as recompense. I decided to do Seven Dials, via Hove (to avoid the hill of New England Road), via George (closing down sale) and Robert Dyas (where on earth can you get small terracotta flowerpots in Brighton?). First it was up the hill of Brunswick Road to see Colleen Slater's gorgeous underwater flower photos at 'Our Beautiful Maisonette' at No 19. Also liked Dee Berridge's life drawings (note to self: must get down the Sussex County Arts Club soon!). The combination of heat, hill and art was making my temperature soar, so I set off deeper into Hove to see Tessa Wolfe Murray's ceramics. They weren't where they were last year tho, so I copped an unexpected one at Amews Art, 23a Wilbury Grove - some first timers showing sculpture, photos and screenprints in their studio. Onwards and upwards, past some very grand villas, to 51 Wilbury Road, two flats in the same building, where Tessa's sublime ceramics (she hates me calling them pots!) were on show. Tessa BTW is a comrade Clarionette. I marvelled at Lawrence Latham's time-lapse photography and bumped into Ali Hastilow, who is showing in a Seven Dials house later on my list.

Now was a tricky bit, getting from one map in the AOH brochure to the other! By chance I took the right turning and spotted Silverdale Road, so popped into The Glass House for one of Kim Glass's prize-winning cream teas, a sit down and a chat. Revived, it was on to Chanctonbury Road, where two houses right next door to each other were open: first timers Eight O Nine at no. 13 showing the eery photography of Cameron Watt; and at 15, festival regulars Artists Live Here. I resisted one of Terri Bell-Halliwell's cakes and wandered upstairs to bump into old chum Jerry Webb, with whom I used to work at EMAP many moons ago! He's showing photos there. Bought a signed book: The Illustrated Brighton Moment, and it was off again, retracing my steps to get to Granville Road. A coach party was filing into Square Enough so I popped over the road to see Cecil Rice's phenomenal watercolours (and equally fantastic oils). I did a workshop with him at BIP last year to try learn some of his secrets (lots of space, big brushes, lots of water!) - he's been to the Taj Mahal and the paintings are breathtaking. Did I mention that I love his work?

Then it was across the road to see Oli and Joe at no.13. I got them to sign my Illustrated Brighton Moment book and bought a card and a badge (it's a cracker!), which both turned out to be by Joe again (I bought his Beer book last year!) - Oli didn't seem too upset! Ben Allen's mansion was going to be my last stop. Bumped into Stella Starr in the garden next to the tortoises and said hello to Jon Crane who'd been printing his pansies next to me at BIP the other week (he also did Cecil's workshop!). All the BIP boys and girls were on show in this huge house: Jane Sampson, Rich Townsend and Rosie Irvine, daughter of my mate Rick (Rintintin) and Jan (who has a new studio down on the seafront). About to go home, I bumped into old clubbing chum Marek Kohn, who is also in the Illustrated Brighton Moment book, who insisted I visit his neighbour at 11 York Villas, only to discover it was the house of Jane Millar, another screenprinter and friend of my ex-lodger Ellie Curtis. [On today's trail, I also kept crossing the paths of a couple (Caroline and Jamie?) who know Nick Hider!]. This debutante house was full of high quality contemporary work, including the digital prints of their 13-year old son Jacob (not quite the youngest artist in AOH - that's got to be Noah Tappenden!). And so, all cultured out, home. Only another 195 houses to visit.

I must mention 13 Gladstone Place, whose PV it was on Saturday night. If you think Open Houses are all crocheted toilet roll covers and painting by numbers, get down to Vogue Gyratory! This flat is an installation! You're given a map on the way in and even told to poke around under the stairs. The work inside the narrative is all hauntingly beautiful: from Frances Stott's pencil drawings of shipwrecks in oyster shells and Lucy Cash's video loop, to Michael Hutson's photographic memories of when he was in a coma. You may have met Michael, he may have cut your hair - he's a barber on Sydney Street and frequents the Off Beat Cafe. Very Brighton!


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