Artists Open Houses 2017: Preston Park Recovery Centre

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Over four weekends in May, The Artists Open Houses festival takes place across 180 venues throughout Brighton, Hove and beyond. This year Outside In artist Clare Gravenell is exhibiting her work as part of a group show at Preston Park Recovery Centre. For this week’s blog post Clare takes a tour of the exhibition and shares with us a selection of her favourite pieces.

As one of the exhibiting artists at the centre, I attended a meeting the day before the opening of the exhibition. Afterwards I found myself walking around discovering for the first time the much awaited Artist Open House exhibition there.

My curiosity lead me up the stairs by the intimate and colourful work on show. With every step being a different experience as artwork is displayed as you travel up the stairs. You want to keep going up to see the next piece and read about it in the descriptions underneath.  It was a clever way of engaging the viewer by enticing them upwards to the rooms filled with artworks on the first floor. I particularly loved being lead to Caroline Lovetts surreal and unerring series of  dolls in the alcove before heading to Room 2.

Doll series

Doll paintings by Caroline Lovetts

Packed full of a diverse variety of paintings in Room 2, I was instantly captivated by matters of the heart which Bridget Cottor’s ‘Kardia Quadriptych’ beautifully explores. From elation to eruption, she captures very simply the most tangible human feelings of the heart. It was creatively displayed as a journey from the top of the wall downwards, in contrast to series that are traditionally displayed from left to right at the same height.

Before exploring the exhibition someone mentioned that for the first time this year there was a room dedicated to drawing, so with excitement I was now on the hunt for it. Drawing has become extinct in the art world and this year I am exhibiting a drawing ‘Raven, The Messenger’ which took nearly 40 hours to produce. It seems that the very primal way of creating art through drawing is not been given the space in the world of art to be exhibited and credited to the level of skill it takes to produce such artwork. The advancement of digital technology has also had a massive impact to its extinction. So a room filled with drawings was like a breath of fresh air to my soul.

My joy from the drawings in Room 5 carried through to Room 4 as I saw ‘Davids Scarf’ by Teri Privett hanging in a majestic zigzag across the room. I almost thought it was the scarf from the famous series Dr Who and what an incredible piece of knitting to be part of this exhibition! As I turned to look at the rest of the pieces in Room 5, it was delightful and refreshing to see a corner devoted to various sculptures and three dimensional work. They worked as a fun and funky addition to the rest of the paintings displayed and the series of ceramic dogs by Avril Bebbs brought a beaming smile to my face.

Ceramic dog series

Ceramic dogs by Avril Bebbs

From Room 5 I headed back down the stairs, again spending time with every step to look closely at the work and stop to read all about them. All of the work in the exhibition has clearly written labels for each piece and I like the way some of the artists had opened up and written a paragraph or two about what feelings and emotions were evoked to produce their artwork. I felt a deeper connection to artwork where the artist really expressed much more about their piece through words, as it naturally became more personal and meaningful.

The hallway connecting the large room downstairs and the kitchen was themed by collages and multi-media art. Within them I discovered the most comic and fun piece of the exhibition,’Mr Chicken Heads’, where the same stylised image has been repeated three times in different bold luminous colours. Reminiscent of similar series by the famous American artist Andy Warhol, it is a very playful use of bright colours and an extraordinary funny image at the same time. I ventured into the kitchen from the hallway to the cleverly reflected artworks of flower and landscape subjects and fit perfectly in the kitchen with the backdrop of the glorious spring colours of the garden.

Mr Chicken Heads

Mr Chicken Heads by Tamsin Knight

Finally I make my way to the biggest room of the whole exhibition, and I am instantly drawn to the very bright almost psychedelic painting by Julia Gabriel and also the photography on the other side of the room. Astonishingly another well thought out and engaging room of artworks.

This year I have been extremely impressed by the high standard of works being exhibited by the clients at the centre and how you are taking on a journey in every room and with the intimate spaces of the stairs and hallway. It is such a pleasure and honour to be part this Artist Open House, its speaks volumes in terms of inclusion, expression and variety of the talent of the clients.

Well done Cathy Fuller, curating artist Judy Martin and all the team that put such a wonderful exhibition this year!!!

Clare Gravenell and her art

Clare Gravenell in front of her own work in the exhibition

Artists Open Houses continues this weekend. Preston Park Recovery Centre will be open on 27 and 28 May 2017.

Visit Clare Gravenell’s Outside In online gallery.


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