On the 30th April Brighton’s Artists Open Houses Festival began, a city wide event which showcases local artists as they open their houses, studios, and galleries. I am lucky enough to have my work in two venues, the first of which (The Oriental Brighton) held a private viewing on the 1st May.

I always, naively I know, assumed that private art views were an upper-class affair for art critics and well to do ladies and gents. I imagined the intimidating compliments (or not) aimed towards the artwork on display whilst onlookers peered through half moon glasses poised on the end of their pointy noses. As you’ve probably guessed, I had never actually attended a private art viewing before. Least of all, when my own work was on the walls- which made the experience all the more nerve-racking!

It was, thankfully, nothing like the above! There was live music from the lovely Brighton based musician Harry Aiden, lots of friendly faces, and a general buzz of people enjoying artwork and speaking to the local artists. I felt an almost surreal sense of achievement to see my art on display amongst the work of professional artists, and in full view of a crowded room of people- I have not actually shown my collection of work to anyone other than my family before. I was nervous that my work would be rejected as “amateur” or “unprofessional” yet seeing people take a real interest, reading my bio and the bio of each piece, and asking questions about the process, was really flattering. It also gave me a great opportunity to see the works of the resident artists (links below), and learn from them as well. I was more reserved in speaking to people than the other artists, who seemed to so easily breeze through the room gesturing to different pieces and speaking with a myriad of people. I felt a bit more like a fly on the wall for the most part.

So here is what I learnt:

1) Don’t be afraid to talk to people, they are there because they are interested in seeing the work-so share with them what inspired you to create it.

2) Smaller items really make artwork accessible to everyone. From large framed pieces, to smaller prints, to post cards, and brooches, there was something affordable to everyone as artwork ranged from £5 all the way up to hundreds and hundreds.  I really loved that idea, that I could contribute to other artists by buying a small piece to show my appreciation for their work whilst taking home a piece that didn’t break my bank. It made me realise that my artwork is not accessible to people like me. I walked away from the private view buzzing with ideas about how I could change that because by not changing it I was almost meeting my own insecure assumptions about the art world, that it isn’t for everyone-and it should be.

3) Wine is just as much to relax the artists as it is for the guests! I don’t know about other artists but I sure was a nervous wreck in the days leading up to the exhibition!

4) Enjoy it. Because inevitably, you’ve worked your socks off for it.

The Artists Open Houses Festival is running throughout May, Jes is exhibiting as a guest artist at the Orientalalong with their resident artists: Julie Chamberlain, Tom Stevens, and Jasmine Mercer. Jes’ work is also available to view and buy from Thomas Rainsford Art and Framing during the festival and throughout the year.

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