Opening Someone Else’s House

I’ve lost count of how many times I took part in the Dulwich Open House event each year (was it 8 or 9?!) until I moved away from Dulwich last year. I’m hoping to be back for Open House 2017 as my new house is right on the edge of the Open House map. But in the meantime I really enjoyed last weekend when I pitched up to show in someone else’s house for the Nunhead Art Trail event.

Printmaker Sarah Capel was lovely enough to invite Liz King, an artist/illustrator, and myself to show our work alongside hers. Our work is quite different and yet complementary in an array of bold colours, and it all came together very easily – although admittedly I didn’t have any of the tidying and cleaning of the house that used to take me longer than the actual set up!

It was wonderful to see a few familiar faces from the Dulwich Open, some of whom I remembered from years ago. It gave me a taste for opening my new house… though of course, first comes the challenge of actually getting it finishing first!

Dulwich Surprise

Being between houses, this is the first time in eight years that I have not had a house to open in order to participate in the Dulwich Open House! I thought (briefly) about finding someone else’s house to show my work, but then decided that I would instead enjoy the freedom of spending entire weekends go off and looking at other open houses.

It’s a wonderful experience to be able to mooch in and out of random houses in Dulwich and see how other people live (as well as the art, of course!). It is such a quirk of the Open House that you can be standing in an empty room looking at some prints and then you look up to find the room is suddenly packed with a crowd!

I love that you can walk into a room that literally looks and feels like a nightclub with a glitterball and neon artwork adorning three walls and then you turn around to the fourth wall and realise it’s just an ordinary Dulwich kitchen!

And where else would you stumble upon a headless mannequin in a 9 foot display case in a beautiful garden without questioning it?!


One Hour Out

Exhibiting at the Dulwich Open House can be exhausting but I’ve learned to take some time to go and look at other houses. I had just an hour to discover some local treasures, so I stuck to my immediate vicinity.

Right on my own doorstep, The Stromboli Group had cleared two floors of another Pymers Mead house to stage ‘The Occupation’, a mixed media group exhibition of work from seven different artists. I rather fell in love with Laura Orsini’s decoupage animals which were sunning themselves on a table in the window.

Next I dropped in on Vicky and Hannah from Hello Geronimo who make contemporary prints and wall art from buttons. Their map of Britain created with colourful buttons made me smile, especially when I spotted the Fab Four badge to stand for Liverpool.

Turning back towards West Dulwich I popped over to see Catherine Mitchell who sets up her living room as a shop three times a year to sell her lovely jewellery to a loyal crowd. Her beautiful house makes the perfect pop up boutique for her jewellery made of semi precious gems and freshwater pearls.

Next I thought I should check on my dutiful son who was running a stall for me at the Love West Dulwich spring fair. He appeared to have recruited a friend to help so I was reassured that they were managing just fine selling to the shoppers in the sunshine. The fair was great with vintage funfair rides and choirs singing as I passed… as I found out later there was a footfall of 3000 in our locale for the fair so there was a great turnout.

Finally I went to investigate the building behind the Dulwich Bakery, which I’ve always wondered about. The various buildings between the bakery and the row of houses have always intrigued me as I’ve always thought they’d make a great studio set up…. and sure enough, that’s exactly what they’re being used for.

Orginally the outbuildings for the Victorian bakehouse housing the ovens and the kitchens, these buildings are now being used by the Half Moon Studios who are a group of printmakers that moved from Herne Hill. And what a wonderful set up it was! I spent quite a while chatting with Sonia Rollo and Susie Perring, both of whom turned out to be the mothers of girls I used to know at primary school!

Upstairs were further spaces occupied by more artists and I was thrilled to discover a micro architectural practice which specialise in sustainable urbanism. A Small Studio is run by Helena Rivera but her collaborator Roger Allen was representing her on the day and so I had a good chat with him about a very exciting project that could be in the offing for me but, for now, will remain secret.

All in all, an hour well spent.

Two Sunny Weekends in May

The weather has been unusually capricious – yesterday there was bright morning sunshine, torrential rain at lunchtime, a warm sunny afternoon followed by a sudden spate of hailstones (!), and then a sunny but absolutely freezing cold evening. And it has been this changeable for the last two weeks, but somehow – for once – the Dulwich Open House event struck gold with two weekends of balmy summer sun.

My house looked gorgeous – even if I do say so myself! The walls were adorned with Charlotte Kessler’s exquisite paintings and my glasswork and until the art was up on the walls we hadn’t quite appreciated how well our work goes together.

Bees and butterflies had a strong presence in the house and our combined work created a very feminine spirit in the space, picking up on universal themes of love and nature.

Colour is very important to both of us, and it was wonderful to see how the colours seemed to reflect

On the second weekend I managed to get out and have a look at some of my neighbouring Open Houses. Read about them here

Artists’ Open House

In less than three weeks 200 artists’ houses in and around Dulwich will be opening their doors to a stream of visitors as part of the Dulwich Festival. The Artists’ Open House is now an established event in the calendar and people come from far and wide to visit the artists and see (and buy) their work in the context of their own homes. Local businesses are now involved and so you will find art installations popping up in estate agents or local cafes, as well as a handful of markets and fairs which centre around the Dulwich Festival.

Over the last couple of years there has been a coordinated effort by the Dulwich Picture Gallery to invite twenty of the world’s leading street artists to study their Baroque paintings and reinterpret them in their own style on walls and pavements around Dulwich, and during the Festival there will be a guided walk with the organiser to take in this Dulwich Outdoor Gallery. There are also numerous talks, walks, recitals and demonstrations happening all around the area which draw thousands of visitors to the Dulwich Festival.

Charlotte Kessler | Alex R
I am celebrating my tenth year in business and so I thought it would be nice to open up my space to some other work. Charlotte Kessler of Lemonstone Art paints mesmerising images in oils and acrylics, drawing on themes of love, nature, dreams and freedom of spirit. I fell in love with her work just before Christmas when I bought two of her prints for my family, and as they sat so well with my own work I have invited her to co-exhibit with me during the Artists’ Open House. Together we are showing a captivating collection of work across three storeys of the house and studio which will explore the magical interplay between glass and paintings in a space bursting with poetical imagery and wonder.

Five Houses
We warmly invite you to come and visit, and as further encouragement we have joined forces with four other artists’ houses in the immediate vicinity to create our own cluster of exciting work within the larger event. Open across two weekends, our ‘Five Houses in Five Minutes’ is a mini trail which will take in jewellery, print and collage, upcycled craft and mixed media, and fine art as well as my glass. We hope you can come and bring your family and friends to enjoy a day out in Dulwich.

Artists’ Open House: 9th-10th May and 16th-17th May, 11am-6pm.

 The Glass Studio | 47 Pymers Mead, London SE21 8NH

Early Christmas

I always love the aftermath of opening my studio and house to visitors. After the stress of the preparation, the house is transformed into a zen-like gallery and the studio becomes a wonderful organised space with clear surfaces and tidy work areas. Needless to say, this is not its normal state of being! And invariably it doesn’t last long after the final visitor has left, but for a day or two, I float around feeling contentedly on top of things.

Last weekend I held a Christmas pop up shop. It was the first time I’ve opened up at this time of year and I really enjoyed it. Though my visitor numbers were not as high as my May Open House it seemed as though everyone was buying, so I had the enjoyment of having time to chat to visitors along with the benefit of lots of sales.

I also appreciated having a couple of neighbouring houses opening up at the same time, as it provided a mini Xmas shopping experience for our visitors. This will definitely be on my calendar for next year, and I may even manage a little private viewing evening on the Friday to catch those early shoppers.


Christmas Goodies

I hold an Open House in May every year, and I’ve always meant to do a Christmas Open Studio event. I was approached by a couple of local makers to hold a joint event, and so for the first time this November I will be opening my studio for a Christmas sale.

I will be open this Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th November from 11am-6pm at The Glass Studio, 47 Pymers Mead, London SE21 8NH.

In anticipation of the launch of my new online shop, I will be having a sale of small glass pieces which will make perfect Christmas presents. The studio and one floor of the house will be open to visitors who want to make an early start on Christmas shopping. I have easy parking and credit card facilities which will help make the experience easy and enjoyable, and of course I offer handmade glassware at reasonable prices. And as if this wasn’t incentive enough, my fellow off-Croxted Road residents are also opening that weekend and so you will have a mini trail of houses to visit.

Catherine Mitchell makes jewellery crafted in silver with semi-precious stones and pearls. Catherine’s Open House at 84 Croxted Road is also running for extended dates on Thursday 6th and Friday 7th November.

A little further down, five makers are selling their products at 21 Hawarden Grove.* Catherine Potter makes a host of decorative gift items from upcycled textiles and buttons. Handmade in Hammersmith recycles tweeds and other textiles made into beautiful new bags and pouches. One of a Kind Jewellery creates one-off designs combining rare vintage beads, Italian and Czech glass, ceramic, resin and amber. Alison Watt-Cooper produces drawings, prints and cards, inspired by local flora and fauna. Joy Fitzsimmons sells cards, notebooks, tea towels and prints all featuring her signature dachsund designs.

*At Hawarden Grove an entrance fee of £1 plus 10% of takings will go towards the local community charity 4ALL-Building Community in West Dulwich. Entrance includes a glass of mulled wine, coffee or tea and mince pie.


House of Glass VII

Last weekend I held the first part of my Open Studio. The weather wasn’t brilliant but the sparkling glass made up for the lack of sunshine. As usual, I opened up the studio and most of the house to visitors with all the seconds glass being sold off at bargain prices in the studio.


House of Glass part 2 will happen this weekend and I think it’s going to be a sunny one so we’ll be laying out lots of glass in the garden too. My top room will be dedicated to Love and Marriage, with lots of lovely paper flowers on display. Come along 11am-6pm.

As well as all the old favourites, I had some new glass on display. My new Mandala Panels (below) are delicious kaleidoscopic glass collages which create a complex double image in the reflective background which changes as you move through the room.