artists' open houses

Jewellery designer Elizabeth Anne Norris shares her advice

Elizabeth Anne Norris is a Brighton based artist who creates beautiful handmade jewellery. She has been exhibiting at Artists Open Houses for a number of years now so we asked her to share her experience and advice for people exhibiting at the festival for the first time. 

Over to Elizabeth...

Elizabeth Anne Norris

How it started

I’ve lived in Brighton since 1995 and have always known about and visited Artists Open Houses when ever possible. With my interest in art and design Artists Open Houses are a big lure for me.  Recently I had a career change and started my business ‘Elizabeth Anne Norris’ as a jewellery designer three years ago. When Betty Shek asked me to take part in her new open house, called ‘Betty and Friends’, in 2011 I was very excited. I’ve exhibited at Betty and Friends Artists Open House for 4 years. It’s always great fun and goes from strength to strength each year. In year one Betty and Friends comprised just 3 artists but many visitors commented on how beautifully presented the art and jewellery was. You don’t need masses of artists to start an Artists Open House, in fact if you’re starting out it’s easier to organise with less.

Elizabeth Anne Norris

This year I moved my jewellery workshop to ‘Borderline Studios’ in Hove who by chance open as an Artists Open House in May and at Christmas. Borderline Studios is an established working studio so in contrast to an open house it has a more ‘lived-in’ feel giving visitors a wonderful behind the scenes view. Borderline Studios is a large space, transformed for Artists Open Houses, with original and exciting art, photography, print, illustration, ceramics and jewellery on show. This Christmas we will have 11 artists exhibiting and selling their work.

The best things about taking part in Artists Open Houses

The Artists Open Houses set up provides a relaxed buying and selling environment. Visitors can completely avoid the crammed shops in the town centre for their Christmas shopping.

It is a great opportunity to showcase Brighton’s local art and design talent to the local community.

Visitors to Artists Open Houses appreciate the unique Christmas gifts on offer and return year on year for this reason.

One aspect I enjoy about my job is meeting my customers and building relationships with them. Artists Open Houses is a perfect place to spend time with your visitors and tell them about your work.

AOH provides an affordable way to exhibit and sell your work. You concentrate on putting on a fabulous exhibition and AOH do all the marketing for you.

As well as exhibiting your art work Artists Open Houses is your chance to offer more than just an exhibition. I was astonished how many people turned up with interest to watch my enamelling demonstration last year. Talks and demonstrations are a fantastic way to for visitors to learn more about what you do and why you do it.

Providing tea, cakes or even live music at your Artists Open House is great for visitors and artists alike. One of the multi talented Borderline Studios artists will be playing live traditional folk music at our Artists Open House this Christmas.

Elizabeth Anne Norris

My top tip

There are around 50 Christmas Artists Open Houses in Brighton and Hove. My top tip is to find an open house near you: make friends, check their opening times and coordinate yours with theirs, direct your visitors there and ask that they do the same for you, oh and swap flyers.

Elizabeth Anne Norris

(Above image from Kathy Laird Beramics, all other from Elizabeth Anne Norris)

In summary

There’s a lot to learn and organise if you are opening your house but it’s great fun and well worth it. Finding artists is easy using the AOH website. Registration for your Christmas Artists Open House is fairly quick and straight forward.  If you get a great group of artists you can plan and prepare together e.g. one artist can design your flyer, while another can draw up an invigilation rota. Many hands make light work of Artists Open Houses! I’m looking forward to ours and I hope to see you at Borderline Studios this Christmas.

Elizabeth Anne Norris