The Dulwich Festival’s Artist’s Open House 2014 offers a fantastic opportunity to enter the discreet world of south east London’s creative community. Open over two weekends, you can check out what you fancy via their online catalogue, or you can pick up an illustrated catalogues from local cafes, libraries, bookshops and – well almost everywhere, because this is an event the local community celebrates en masse.
The journey (bike is best for this) started at Blue Patch member Julia Langley’s elegant ‘home gallery’ where you can feast your eyes on a range of delectable paintings based on plant forms and a new departure, webs, the sort spiders weave. Julia works in oil on canvas, however this year she is also selling pigment prints, so prices for all pockets. Paintings sit alongside ceramics by Anna Silverton’s precisely thrown porcelain vases and bowls. Anna and Julia not only show beautiful individual works but the whole exhibition is a study in harmony.
The Open House is fun because, let’s face it, you’re dipping in and out of people’s private spaces, and you soon notice that creative thinking doesn’t stop at the art. It’s a friendly affair too, people are welcoming and pleased to chat about what they do. I was over the moon to land up at Ellen Hanceri and Ben Swift’s house, two wonderfully complimentary artists. Ellen’s eye for colour and pattern radiates across the walls, predominantly silkscreen, her designs cover papers, fabrics and ceramics too. Ellen’s cushions are great value, unique and handmade in the UK and the mugs and jugs are all made in Stoke-on-Trent. Ben’s latest work, circular ceramics were hung around the walls like musical notes. The earthy colours and still atmosphere provide a wonderful change of tempo. An idea that you could play with, enabling someone buying these pieces to arrange their own wall based installation.
The coolest child’s chairs are Designs By Me and Mr B. Coming to the rescue of chairs, ‘restorer designer’ Mandisa transforms them with a surge of colour and joy. She can finish the chairs with a weatherproof varnish if you wish, so you can put them in the garden, and kids love them. I could see them appealing to all ages.
I rounded up the first Open House trip with a visit to printmaker Christopher Clack. His portraits stop you in your tracks, they look like photographs, then like paintings, they look sharp then indistinct, these portraits are entrancing, hypnotic even. The process could only have been developed by a painter with a knowledge of picture space, and one who associates with German and Flemish Renaissance painters such as Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543). You can commission Christopher to take a photo of you and see what happens under the alchemy of the master printer of Dulwich.
We have more exceptional makers, designers and artists on their way soon. Don’t forget to head to the @ArtistOpenHse next weekend and take pleasure in the hidden brilliance tucked away in south east London.