The concept for HOUSE began to form in mid 2008 when Judy Stevens and Chris Lord, the Directors behind Artists Open Houses (AOH) were invited to a series of meetings for arts organisations in the city of Brighton about developing and increasing opportunities through collaboration and increasing visibility of arts and cultural events.
AOH Directors, Judy and Chris were keen to develop ideas for commissioning thought-provoking and ambitious contemporary visual arts events in Brighton, that would provide regional artists with high profile exhibition opportunities in the city and beyond. They began to work under the premise that this new and dynamic event would be programmed and curated by a Guest Curator with a commissioned work from an internationally respected Lead Artist at its heart and feature several responsive commissioned projects agreed by panel selection in addition.
"A starting point for HOUSE was the lack of a major, dedicated, contemporary art space in Brighton, and the consequent limited opportunities its citzens, students and visitors had to view internationally regarded artists.
Using domestic locations and other small artspaces we wanted to address this issue as well as to provide commissioning and exhibiting opportunities for emerging regional artists. Whereas Artists Open Houses is an inclusive open to all festival, HOUSE was designed to bring a curatorial vision and focus to the visual arts in the city during the May festival."
Judy Stevens, HOUSE Director
History and background
HOUSE was conceived in 2008 to introduce a curated, contemporary and dynamic visual arts strand to complement the annual Brighton Festival season while also in part a response to limited spaces within the city for presenting contemporary art.
Originating as a partner event to the Artists Open Houses, HOUSE provides a unique annual showcase and commissioning opportunity for the work of critically engaged regional artists, curators and an internationally regarded Lead Artist.
The theme for HOUSE commissions each year is Art & Domestic Space with satellite works responding to this theme as well as to the Lead Artist's commissioned work.
Drawing together adventurous artists and curators from within the city, the region and beyond, HOUSE brings a rich mix of diverse and innovative new work to the city of Brighton & surrounding area, presenting projects and accompanying events that respond to the notion of ‘art and domestic space’.
Inherent to the character of HOUSE is an interest in the threshold between private and public space, where there is potential to experience new ideas and different ways of thinking. This is found not only in the artistic ideas within the commissioned projects themselves, but also in the selected HOUSE locations and sites across the city, in the form of exhibitions, installations, artists studios and events.
HOUSE is a registered charity, devised and managed by HOUSE Directors Judy Stevens and Chris Lord, with Guest Curator Celia Davies, with assistance from Curator Clare Sheppeard and administrative support from the HOUSE team.
HOUSE commissioned projects are selected via an open submission process of artists submitting proposals in response to the work and practice of the Lead Artist for that year's edition of the event. Each artists' project is then developed in dialogue with the HOUSE management team, including the Directors and Curatorial Advisors. This ensures a consistency of quality across all areas of programme activity in HOUSE, while providing a supportive framework for the ongoing development of the artists’ professional practice.
“It has been a really great experience and more especially, the curated element of HOUSE. The professional and contemporary nature of HOUSE offers a platform that validates the work and offers a new sense of value that supports creative practice in the city.
Then to see work that I didn’t know other artists were making, to see the variety, very thought-provoking things. This benefits both our practice and the visual arts culture as a whole in Brighton and Hove, which in turn benefits us!”
Commissioned artist, HOUSE 2011
Evaluation Report 2012