the artists’ open houses to visit as the event celebrates its 40th anniversary

It might be hard to believe, but Brighton and Hove’s Artists’ Open Houses festival celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. It’s 40 years since founder Ned Hoskins created a movement enabling access to art for everyone, by simply opening his Fiveways front door and inviting the public inside to view his work.

And now, every weekend in May, thousands of artists welcome people into their houses and studios all over the city and beyond, showcasing a huge variety of paintings, photography, ceramics, crafts and more, giving visitors an exciting insight into how artists live and work.

It’s also a great chance to explore the bits of the city you don’t know so well, not to mention having a fascinating snoop inside loads of different types of houses and buildings and enjoying the delicious homemade cake that’s on offer more often than not. Art, property and cake – it’s a winning combo.

You can never really go wrong and there are loads of trails to follow around different parts of the city, but these are some of our favourites – old and new.

Devils Dyke Farm
New this year, the venue – located on the historic site of the terminus station of the Dyke Railway and complete with original platform – may be a bit out of town but it’s well worth the trip. Over 20 artists and designers are exhibiting here, including Kirstin Stride’s unusual hand-painted wooden jewellery, Saya McNairn-Yanagi’s colourful ceramics, Sue Penrose’s bright mosaics (the BOTI-yellow star is now hanging in our office), Suzanne Breakwell’s wonderfully animated papier mache sculptures (all pictured above) and Nicky Edwards’ atmospheric fine art. It’s also a wedding venue and you can see why as you take in the sprawling green landscape spread out below the marquee and fairy light-festooned steps. There’s also a fully stocked bar and coffee from White Cloud Coffee to keep you going. Oh, and don’t miss Errol the Emu – you’ll find his cheeky face peeking out from the field to the right of the road down to the farm to welcome you as you come in.
Devils Dyke Farm, Devils Dyke Road, Brighton BN1 8YL

Keep Art At Home
Another new one for this year, this gorgeous Kemp Town home is a celebration of colour, humour and creativity. You can see 16 different artists’ work on show here, including Cassette Lord’s vibrant street art, Haus of Lucy’s clever tongue-in-cheek twists on fine art and willow pattern-style Brighton plates, Slayzy’s colourful anime illustrations, and entrancing miniatures from Little Papa Doll House – from the teensy Haus on the Hill and a pitch-perfect mini replica of the Sex Education loos to a hand-sized immortalisation of #tilegate (aka the infamous removal of the tiles on the Montreal Arms). And if you need more miniatures in your life (and trust us, after seeing them once, you definitely will), you can see the Little Papa Doll House gallery, complete with intricate teensy versions of works by many well-known artists, at Gallery 242 on the seafront until the end of June. (Keep an eye out for our interview with creator Yvette coming soon!)
13 Paston Place, Brighton BN2 1HA

shhwimm ruth mulvie

Ruth Mulvie at 1 Courtyard Lane
Where better to dive in to Ruth Mulvie’s latest playful paintings and prints that explore water and space than round a Miami-esque swimming pool? And where do you find one of those in the city? In the garden of a house in West Hove as it turns out! We love the way Mulvie’s joyful paintings combine colours in an unexpected way, drawing you in to another – infinitely brighter – world and enlivening even the most dismal of days. If you’re anything like us, you’ll find it hard to tear yourself away from this idyllic setting. Also worth noting: although the exhibition ends in May, you can book to swim at Hove’s best kept secret long after that.
1 Courtyard Lane, Off New Church Road, Hove, BN3 4BP (walk down to the end of the short lane and you’ll spot the entrance on the right)

The Coal Hole
This has been one of our must-visit houses for several years now. You’ll find nine artists and designers in this Hanover-based architect-renovated former coal merchant’s building – worth a visit in its own right. Exhibitors include Lisa Holdcroft’s quirky cartoons that celebrate Brighton, Ulrika Jarl’s prints and lampshades featuring her trademark intricate line drawings and Cassia Beck’s playful and unexpected retro collages. Another plus? The refreshments and the garden to enjoy them in.
38 Albion Hill, Brighton BN2 9NW

Stanley Road Store
We could quite happily buy something from every single exhibitor at The Stanley Road Store, which this year is open every day for the duration of the artists’ open houses event. From Aeyglom Ceramics’ pleasing pastel pieces (pictured above) and Lost and Foundry’s quirky lighting and candle holders (we need a ceramic dog candle holder in our lives) to Bella Does Brighton’s recycled small-batch stationery and collage papers, we love it all. We reckon they need a permanent shop; who’s with us?
3 Hanningtons Lane, Brighton BN1 1ND

7th – 29th May (Saturdays and Sundays); various locations around the city and out into the countryside