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 is now a stand-alone October 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. This dynamic new event would be programmed and curated by a Guest Curator, 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.

“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

In 2019 Judy Stevens and Chris Lord stepped down as Directors of HOUSE and the Board of Trustees has taken the opportunity to revision HOUSE. Consultant Lucy Day has been appointed to develop the future strategy for HOUSE, looking at its regional and national position with the visual arts.


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