Friday, 16 May 2014

Out & About: Dulwich Open House

Last weekend was a whirlwind of art in south London – and this weekend, much of it continues, as the Artists Open House event revs up for its final weekend.

I couldn't afford much (but it's nice to look), and saw a fraction of the things I wanted to see – it's quite a tiring thing to do, especially in last week's driving rain – but nevertheless here are a couple of highlights.

Above: the Cavaliero Finn open house in Croxted Road, SE21, which is open this weekend too.

If you're anywhere near southeast London tomorrow or Sunday, do check it out. Details at the end. And if you're not, all the listings have website details – do some online window shopping or discover some new inspiring bookmarks.

Some paintings by Trevor Burgess, whose work I've enthused about before – he has a great talent for capturing very ordinary scenes and, by painting them, giving them a beauty you might overlook passing them by in real life.

The canvases look great in situ, as part of the Cavaliero Finn Open House, which was on at two venues: Croxted Road (pictured here) and the incredible Belair House, near chichi Dulwich Village (pictured lower down this post). Trevor Burgess is around for a Meet the Artist event at the house tomorrow, Saturday 17th (sadly Belair House was only open for the first weekend, but you can see some pictures below).


Above: Some more of the interesting artworks and homewares in the Cavaliero Finn show including (second shelf up) ceramics by Vanja Bazdulj, whose work I've featured here before.

An interesting take on the Heygate Estate in Elephant & Castle, famous for being massive and being demolished, it also features in multiple British urban-set films or TV series where a sprawling estate appears, including Attack the Block, The Bill, Top Boy and even Madonna's Hung Up video, below in case you're interested.


Another highlight was the house of Jess Walton, also in SE24. She runs Fabulous Vintage Finds and the house was stuffed with affordable gems.






Below: The aforementioned Belair House was a treat. Just look at the space...

...and that's just one room.


Loved the surrealist takes on classical sculpture, above, by Kathy Dalwood.

And isn't this, by Alexena Cayless, an interesting idea? (You'll see why below).


Rowena Brown's tiny houses also appealed.

And I loved Judith Tucker's deserted concrete diving boards.

I've written about Custhom's technical wizardry here before, and it was interesting to see their digitally embroidered fabric up close. Beautiful. There's also a film that shows how it's done you can watch at the event too.  


But this was probably the overall highlight for me: I was mesmerised by Gill Rocca's paintings. Way out of my price league (I think the painting above was £10,000) but my god it is gorgeous, isn't it? 

What you don't get in the photo above – but which you can see enlarged in the one below – are the tiny little lights she's painted on the horizon of the river; three little boats glowing in the gloomy light. I think I could look at a painting like this every day for the rest of my life and still get lost in it.

And by the time we got to the beautiful house of quilt-maker and designer, Cassandra Ellis (below), late on the Sunday afternoon, she'd practically sold out of all her beautiful things. I enjoyed her freshly sanded floorboards though and had a lovely chat with her other half about their floorboards technique.

If you've never been to an open house event before, it's basically a group of exhibitions in the homes of the people who've made or collected the things on show. The things are for sale and you get to have a mini nose into their houses – and who can resist that?

Above: cups and saucers by Ali Miller

A word of warning, though, it can be a rather unrelaxing experience if you pick, as we did several times, a house empty of other visitors and full of art you're not very keen on (naturally, none of the highlights here fall into that category). One stern-looking lady followed us around her silent ground floor, hands clasped as her eyes bore into the backs of our heads, while we tried to look like we liked her paintings more than we did. Leaving quickly is painful. The houses where you could see people milling about through the windows were good bets, as were those with doors permanently open to welcome people in.

Be aware that not all the events or venues are open both weekends. Check and download the guide here

Cavalierofinn.comcassandraellis.co.uk; Fabulousvintagefinds.co.uk

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