Longer term followers may recall that last year I dipped my toe into Brighton’s annual Artists Open Houses bonanza. The Open Houses coincide with Brighton’s main arts festival and the Brighton Fringe Festival – both of which are the largest of their kind in England. The Artists Open Houses run each weekend in May and showcase the work of thousands of artists in hundreds of homes across the city. Last year I pitched up with my paintings for one weekend and displayed them in a friend’s workshop in the garden. I also spent a day painting at the Open House too. I enjoyed it so much that I thought it would be worthwhile making more of a commitment this year. Sadly my friend was ‘taking a year off’ the Open Houses but, in discussing it with some friends and neighbours, we decided we’d take on the challenge of running our own open house. And hence the Park Gate Collective was born!
I live in a small and rather brilliant residential development called Park Gate. Designed by the pioneering architect Eric Lyons, it was built in 1958 and is home to a wonderful array of talented people, many of which I’m proud to call my friends. Four of us will be showing work during this year’s festival and you can see more on the Park Gate Collective website. Over the weekend, I picked up the hot off the press brochures for this year’s Open Houses:
There’s also an accompanying Artists Open Houses website that’s searchable by artist’s name, venue or discipline.
I also spent a lot of the weekend undertaking the mammoth (and if I’m honest, really dull) task of preparing all the mounts for my work. When I did this last year I think I must have made a bit of a meal of it, but I seemed to have learned from the experience and feel a lot more organised this year. For anyone based in the UK considering doing their own framing or mounting, I can highly recommend DIY Framing. They’ve been tremendously helpful, generous with their advice and efficient with orders and deliveries. All of the mount materials, (mounts, backing boards and tapes) that I’m using are conservation quality and ph neutral. These are considerably more expensive than standard mount board, but they don’t ‘yellow’ with exposure to light and air. I was also able to break out my Logan Mount cutter which is simple to use and utterly indispensable for creating professional quality mounts with nicely bevelled edges.
I have between 20-26 new works that I need to get mounted plus a stack that I already have mounted and from last year. I’ll probably only have 6 or so framed works on display at any one time, but I’ll also have a browser or two where people will be able to leaf through works.
There’s still a tremendous amount of work to do on getting everything ready and set up, but after breaking the back of the mount cutting over the weekend, I’m already feeling a little more relaxed.
I’m also keen that the preparations don’t totally overshadow my painting, so I was really pleased to also squeeze in some time at my easel! I’m not quite sure what possessed me to tackle this view, other than I really liked it (but seriously doubted my ability to paint it!). The challenges were to distil so much cluttered information, and also to paint the scene with a freedom and boldness that I often find challenging when the main figures are so large, dominant and in the foreground.
On the whole, I managed to resist the temptation to overwork the foreground figures and keep them suggestive. I was pleasantly surprised by how this turned out, partly no doubt because my expectations at the outset set pretty low, but also because it does evoke the feeling of a relaxed conversation between friends in the sunshine.
I was really pleased to be able to fit this painting in amongst all the other preparations and hope that, with a fair wind, I may still manage a few more exhibit-able paintings in time for the Open House!