Viewing art is often associated with going to a large gallery or exhibition; often paying an entrance fee and sometimes having to jostle with crowds of visitors to get close enough to your favourite works.
Imagine the luxury of viewing art in a private home, no entrance fees, food and drink available and being able to talk to the artists themselves…in Brighton & Hove, Artists Houses have long been established and continue to draw hundreds of visitors every year.
Artists Open Houses started life in Brighton in 2004; part of the annual Brighton Festival held in May, a small group of artists displaying their work in houses across Brighton produced a small brochure to make the trail easier to follow for visitors.
An Artists Open House is usually a home, which is opened to the public to show artwork. There are also a number of workshops and studios and a few small galleries and other art spaces that open. Some houses open one room, while others display work throughout the whole house. Many have artwork in the garden as well. The brochure indicates what type of art is available to view at each house so you can choose to visit the ones which appeal.
The popularity of the Artists Houses grew over the years until the event became a festival in its own right. They provide an opportunity to display the work of local artists to the local community. Now there are Christmas Open Houses as well as the main festival in May, providing a chance for visitors to do their Christmas shopping away from the bustle of the shops. A relaxed buying and selling environment is a rare thing at Christmas.
Being able to talk directly with the artists and buy directly from them too provides a personal connection between the artist and the viewer which is so often absent at art galleries and exhibitions and gives artists a chance to develop relationships with their customers. The website – http://aoh.org.uk/ – has a year-round prominence, featuring artists with links to their websites and listing details of previous and upcoming festivals, so those new to the experience can get an idea of what to expect.
One bonus of the Artists Open Houses is that admission is always free, meaning that everyone has access to art. The artists themselves divide the cost of registering a house for the Festival and as there are often 8-15 artists displaying at each house, it can be a very affordable investment! Different genres being displayed at each house means that visitors get to view styles they may not have considered before; as well as art there is sculpture, jewellery, photography, ceramics and even clothing.
Artists Open Houses is a treat for both visitors and artists alike, bringing local artists into the focus of the community and providing a unique experience to view, buy and discuss art. Go and visit one for yourself…you’ll be glad you did!