Most people find the prospect of complete strangers barging around their house as appealing as coming across Freddy Krueger inspecting your knife drawer. But at this time of year, artists across Brighton and Hove throw open their doors and invite the public into their most intimate places – both domestic and imaginative.
Not all visitors come with the aim of discovering marvellous new art. Like prospective house buyers, some people seem to be driven by a desperate need to know what other people’s toilets look like. There’s nothing wrong with this – part of the charm of the Artists Open House project is that it mixes the rarefied endeavour of artistic creation with the quotidian concerns of a normal household.
For those who are more interested in craft than kitchenware, there’s plenty to see this year. More than 1,300 artists are displaying their works in 234 venues – that’s an awful lot of shoe leather. Fortunately, the open houses are arranged into trails and grouped into geographic areas, so a little forward planning will obviate the need to hurtle from one side of the city to the other in some ill-advised remake of Wacky Races.
The Hanover Art Trail is a reliable scene of imaginative and intelligent work. At the Church of the Annunciation on Washington Street, seven sculptors have mounted an appropriately contemplative show – Valérie N’Doye’s ‘Mother and Child’ light boxes are moving and delightful. A completely different note is struck at Egremont Place where the ‘Open House Virgins’ have produced a witty and sexy collection.
Over in Hove, The Happy House and Garden is an exemplar of the Open House idea – pastels, abstracts and figurative work showcased in a home that would render Kirstie Allsopp deliquescent. Off the arty track, up in Withdean, AfricArt on Redhill Drive features fantastic contemporary African and British sculpture.
The festival closes on May 23, so next weekend is your last chance to indulge in a spot of aesthetic house hunting – unless loo seats really are your thing.