artists' open houses


Guy Maberly asks four experienced artists, involved in the Artists Open House Festival, for some advice for those opening their homes for this year’s festival.

Following on from Part 1, I have spoken to two more respected artists whose work has attracted much praise in recent years, to get to the bottom of what it takes to exhibit successfully at the Artists Open House Festival.

Part 2

Artist and jewellery designer Nick Orsborn, R.I has been involved in the Artists Open Houses Festival since 1989, exhibiting as a guest in other peoples’ houses until 2004, when he decided to open his own house.

According to Nick, “It’s a great way to showcase the largest range of my work. Initial, upfront costs are minimal compared to hiring gallery space anywhere in the South. I can also compliment my work with selected guest artists, which makes the House appeal to a wider audience. I love knowing that each day will be different and that new people will always visit. Some of the regulars have become friends too, and I enjoy talking to people about my work and they love to snoop around my jewellery workshop to see how such a mess can result in the carefully crafted pieces they see for sale.”

As to what makes Nick’s Open House a success, “I am friendly but not pushy” he explains. “I offer a wide range of work over a broad price range and try to make the house as welcoming as possible”.

As to any specific advice to anyone thinking of opening their house for the first time “Expect the unexpected” he says “But the bottom line is to enjoy it and make the visitors feel that they have had an enjoyable and unique experience.”

Angela Evans has been making ceramic tiles since 1992. Her work has been featured on Channel 4’s Collectors Lot, as well as in several books and at many exhibitions and art fairs.

Angela started exhibiting in other people’s Open Houses when she moved down to Brighton in 1998. She opened her own house for the first time last May and her four sisters joined her.


“Trying to explain why we have been successful is a tricky one”, she admits.

“We had lovely, positive feedback but I think you need a few years under your belt to get a great reputation. The houses I have been in that were most successful had a friendly atmosphere with a good standard of work, displayed well. I hope our house has a kind neighbourly feel to it.”

As to advice for first-timers, Sarah is quite clear “Get all your own work done early because you have so much other stuff to do in November - cleaning the house, publicity, dealing with your artists and setting up. Check the AOH website for deadlines and go to a few AOH Trail meetings. Also, I think it’s good to bear in mind that people like to see a house, not a gallery.”

So, that’s what the experts say. Come and see these fantastic Open Houses and many more, at this year’s Christmas Artists Open Houses festival. If you’re an artist, why not get involved yourself? You never know, someone may be writing about your work next year.