Christmas Open Houses event great success

Visitors to Julian Sutherland-Beatson's studio
Visitors to Julian Sutherland-Beatson's studio

Jean Clark

Last weekend’s Christmas Open Houses got off to a flying, festive start with organiser Julian Sutherland-Beatson declaring it one of the busiest ever for the artists and craftspeople of Eastbourne.

Hundreds of residents and visitors followed the various art trails across the town to admire the rich diversity of creative talent on display.

Ceramicist Anne Barrell, one of the many artists in Old Town to welcome the public into their homes, said, “Here at 8 Milton Crescent, we had a fabulous start to Open Houses with sales of contemporary standard lamps, artworks, ceramics and high quality toys.

“We’ve been complimented on the high standard of work and attention to detail. There are pieces for the discerning collector as well as those looking for quality gifts and stocking fillers from just £1. Proper coffee and homemade cake, too.”

In Willingdon, creative husband and wife team Ady and Ruth Backshall said it had been their ‘best weekend ever’ with Ruth’s scrumptious chocolate cake vanishing as quickly as her trademark engraved silver spoons and Scrabble magnets.

At Hart & Home in Broderick Road, Hampden Park, Joanne Hart’s house was transformed into a magical Christmas grotto, every surface twinkling with gifts, glittery baubles, hand-made tree decorations, pin cushions, felt toys and also gift-cards by photographer Nicola Kirk.

Son Isaac did an excellent job of making tea, handing out flapjacks, entertaining the children and feeding the cat.

Artists Liz Brown and Fiona Morrison welcomed guests to their charming, Edwardian house and said how touched they had been, ‘watching the delight on visitors’ faces as they gaze up at the ‘floating’ Father Christmas balloons, wonder at the hand-made Christmas decorations and admire our many original prints.’

Margaret Turton also remarked on visitors’ reaction to H’Art Break at the Hydro Hotel commenting how ‘they were able to spot several places they know and love among my collection of prints and paintings.

You can see Margaret’s paintings by the Crystal restaurant until 9 December.

And Lawrence Staunton, visiting from London with his family, wrote in one guest book of, “the skill and ingenuity of the Eastbourne artists, whose work is both delightful and affordable. Thank you, too, for the wonderful welcome we’ve received at every house.”

But don’t worry if you missed out on this great, family-friendly and free event as there’s another opportunity this weekend to visit Open Houses with even more art on display.

You’ll be guaranteeed a warm welcome at The Big House in Prideaux Road, where potter John Warren and his painter wife, Helen, will be joined by talented young artists, Miranda Pennington and Gail McKay, artist Sonya Tatum and jeweller Lynda Lindfield.

The last word goes to Emma Mason, whose gallery in Cornfield Terrace is currently home to a pop-up Christmas emporium of unique gifts such as hand-printed marble wrapping paper, Sussex wool scarves, local ceramics and affordable alphabet prints.

“We had a great weekend with a lot of new people of all ages coming into the gallery. There was a lovely atmosphere with everyone so enthusiastic and enjoying going round the Open Houses supporting art in Eastbourne. I’m looking forward again to this weekend.”

 A full-colour brochure giving details of venues, artists and opening times is available at the Tourist Information Centre and at shops and cafes throughout Eastbourne as is the latest issue of Etc magazine, which includes an article on Open Houses. You can also visit Christmas Open Houses 2013 on Facebook.