I’m bursting with excitement.
There are just hours until I open my home again this weekend to the public as part of Artists Open Houses 2021. My to-do list is finally shrinking – we’re nearly there!
If you’ve never been, AOH is the most joyous experience.
Over five weekends (29th May – 27th June), you can follow 12 different trails in and around Brighton, browsing and buying work by local artists and craftspeople.
Most is showcased in private homes – perfect if you always want to push open that intriguing front door and peek inside.
Of course, this time last year we were all locked away. There was no browsing and chatting, oohing and aahing. I missed AOH so much.
But this year it’s on and I’m hosting for the first time!
It’s a dream come true to fill my own home with incredible art, for a whole month. My mixed-media art is surrounded by glorious photography, jewellery, etchings, paintings and paper art by nine other talented, nature-inspired artists.
I can’t wait to welcome people in, to see their reactions as their eyes scan the displays, and to hear the murmur of conversation as they make their way from room to room. Never again will I take this in-person experience for granted.
Of course we’ll have safety measures in place – there will be a limit to numbers at any one time, so there might be a short wait. Masks must be worn, you’ll be asked to check in and sanitiser will be available.
But there’s one fantastic new element that only came about because of the pandemic, and the restrictions we’ve been under.
Last week I hosted a pre-opening virtual exhibition, giving online viewers a tour of the space. I zoomed into the gorgeous pieces on display, talked through my own work, and answered questions. It was fun, engaging and connecting. Orders were placed and will be going in the post.
Just a couple of years ago, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to include an online event. It would have seemed complicated, unnecessary and, to be honest, petrifying!
But in lockdown we all discovered how we could make virtual events work. We got used to being online, and now even expect to have this option.
These days I wouldn’t dream of excluding my customers and followers who can’t be here in person.
In fact inclusivity was the whole point of Artists Open Houses when it began in 1982.
It was conceived as an affordable way for a group of artists to exhibit their work during Brighton Festival. And it attracted visitors who may never have set foot in a gallery. Now AOH features nearly 100 venues and attracts thousands.
And of course, this year, there are plenty of ways to take part online.
In fact the entire cultural sector has been reimagined. This summer, thanks to livestreams and virtual tours, you don’t need a huge budget for travel, tickets and accommodation to enjoy a slice of practically every major event.
After spending the best part of the last year in lockdown, Artists Open Houses 2021 is going to feel like the ultimate celebration of creativity, community and connection.
And everyone’s invited.
The Nature House
113, Preston Drove, Brighton BN1 6EW
Fiveways trail, venue 3
Saturdays and Sundays, 11:00-17:00
29th May – 27th June
P.S. If you’d like to hear about future events, online and in person, please do sign up to my newsletter.