History & Background

Discussions about HOUSE began in 2008 with a view to introducing a curated, dynamic contemporary visual arts strand to complement the annual Brighton Festival season.

Originally a partner event to the Artists Open Houses, then a visual arts partner to the May Brighton Festival, HOUSE has developed its role as a Biennial, providing a unique showcase and commissioning opportunity for the work of national and international artists, as well as those from the South East region.

In 2008 Artists Open Houses Festival Directors, Judy Stevens and Chris Lord, joined with a group of city arts organisations concerned with developing and promoting opportunities through collaboration, increasing visibility of arts and cultural events in the city. Stevens and Lord aimed to develop high profile commissioning opportunities for thought-provoking and ambitious contemporary visual arts projects from South East region artists, to be exhibited within the city.

“A starting point for HOUSE was the lack of dedicated spaces for the presentation of new works of contemporary art in Brighton, and the consequent limited opportunities local audiences had to view work by internationally regarded artists.

“Using domestic locations and other small art spaces we wanted to address this issue as well as to provide new 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 Co-Director 2008-2019

This dynamic new event would be programmed and curated, offering a major commissioning opportunity to an internationally respected Invited Artist as well as featuring several thematically responsive commissioned projects, agreed by panel selection. And so HOUSE was conceived.

In 2011 Celia Davies (then Director of Photoworks) joined as a Curatorial Advisor and Guest Curated the programme between 2012 – 2014, taking on the role of Lead Curator for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 iterations. Celia Co- Directed HOUSE Biennial with Judy Stevens from 2017 to 2019 and oversaw the initial strategic review of HOUSE, before moving on to develop her own independent projects and consultancy practice.

Judy Stevens and Chris Lord stepped down as Directors of HOUSE in January 2019 and the Board of Trustees has taken the opportunity to revision HOUSE.

Director Curator of A Woman’s Place Project, Lucy Day, was appointed in 2019 to develop the future artistic strategy for HOUSE and further develop its regional, national and international profile.  Following the lockdown caused by Coved-19, Lucy stepped down in the summer of 2020 and HOUSE  was made dormant by the Trustees until the autumn of 2021.  After assessing the changed landscape of the arts and funding for the arts in the UK, the Trustees took the decision to close down HOUSE  in spring 2022 and to contribute all remaining funds to supporting new and emerging visual artists through Artists Open Houses.