In Depth

A weekend in May: The Brighton Artist Open House festival

Discover over 1,200 artists across four weekends as the city opens studios, galleries and notable homes for a peak behind-the-scenes

Events such as the large-scale Open House London, in which buildings not normally accessible to the public open their doors, have now become an important date in the cultural diary. However, it is Brighton that can lay claim to spearheading the 'open house' movement, where in 1981 artist Ned Hoskins invited people into his home to view his work. It grew into what is now known as the Artist Open House festival, which during every weekend in May will showcase pieces from more than 1,200 artists and craftspeople in locations in and around the seaside city.

Often this is a chance to get a personal glimpse into the lives of creative minds that have opened up their own homes, such as at The Ceramic House, where Kay Aplin has transformed the space into a living work of art. This year, following a research trip to Korea, she will exhibit work by a group of leading ceramicists from the country. Others offer the opportunity to view a collection of different artists' work in more established locations. These include a display presented in collaboration with Brighton Museum at the former house and studio of John Constable, in which seven contemporary artists have taken inspiration from William Blake's poem The Sick Rose to explore the unnatural in painting.

The diversity on show spans traditional mediums such as painting and ceramics as well as more unusual crafts. Penelope Kenny, who this year beat 1,200 artists to be featured on the cover of the event's brochure, translates themes such as transhumanism and evolution into textiles, screenprints, wallpapers and books, which will be shown at the Waterloo Room in Hove in addition to three further open houses. Elsewhere you can delve into The Big Forest Emporium – the bright and colourful world of Mr Rowling and Mr Craven, whose creations include paper dolls, felt dogs and animal mobiles. Local art activist Dani Ahrens will be displaying a selection of knitted and crocheted works, with the opportunity to try your hand at creating your own projects at a drop-in workshop on Saturday 13 May in partnership with refugee charity the Hummingbird Project.

The houses can be explored via the 14 trails that take in different areas of the city, whether tracing the original route around Fiveways to venturing out of Brighton to take in coastal views around Rottingdean and Newhaven.

The Artists Open Houses festival takes place around Brighton and Hove across the four weekends of May, starting 6 May; aoh.org.uk

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