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Free Artists Open Houses at the Brighton Festival

A Chance to Pry and Buy in Hundreds of Artists' Homes Around Brighton

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Artists Open House

One of the many homes open to visitors during Artists Open Houses

courtesy of Artists Open Houses

Essentials

  • What:More than 1,000 artists exhibit their work in hundreds of homes turned into galleries around Brighton
  • When: Weekends in May, during the Brighton Festival
  • Where:All kind of private homes and gardens, all over Brighton and the surrounding areas.
  • Admission:Free
  • Visit their website

The Welcome Mat is Out

May Artists Open Houses in Brighton is, as the organizers put it, "probably" the biggest free visual art event of its kind in the UK. All over Brighton, artists and craftspeople open their homes, gardens and studios so that visitors can see their work, often in the environment where it is made, and buy it. In 2009 at least 200 homes and private premises were set to be included in the festival.

Inclusive not Exclusive

I'm sure I'm not alone in finding some artists' open houses a bit intimidating. You know the sort - you're the only visitor and you feel a bit like an intruder, being followed around by the artist and spouse, as if you'd nab the cutlery. The Brighton event is nothing like that. They've been doing Artists Open Houses here for 28 years and they've got it just about right. Here's how:
  • An inclusive mix of venues Some of the locations are smart city center homes. But art and craftwork exhibitions are also being held on a housing estate, at two schools, in several student houses, at the Clock Tower Sanctuary homelessness project and at three venues showing work of artists with learning disabilities.

  • All kind of art and craft work Work includes serious and challenging fine art, decorative art and more commercial giftware - often in the same home and by the same artist. Visitors can view painting, printmaking, sculpture, moving images, installations, ceramics, furniture, jewelry, glass, furnishings and textiles.
  • A big, friendly day out This is a hugely popular event and you will rarely find yourself alone or moving silently through untouchable rooms. And because the locations have been organised in trails, you are likely to meet others along the way, clutching their trail maps and leaflets as a dead giveaway.
The point is to show the work in a domestic setting so you can more easily imagine how it will look in your own home. As one woman on the event's promotional video comments, "It's a little shopping, a little poking around someone else's house..." and a little culture along the way.

Finding Your Way Around

Details of venues, maps showing their locations and suggested trails can be found online, from about April 10, at www.aoh.org.uk. A handy brochure, with full details as well as information about parking,local bus and train services and refreshments, is availabe from late April in visitors centers, libraries, museums and shops around Brighton and Hove. Brochures are also available at all open house venues.

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