Dorota Biniecka invites visitors to combine browsing art with a Downland walk
Can you tell us about where your Open House is situated and what special added interest it offers to visitors?
My Open House is located at the edge of the Downs by Southwick Hill. It feels like a perfect opportunity to invite visitors to combine browsing art with a walk in nature. A large collection of oil landscapes and portraits as well as nature and colour inspired mixed media pieces will be displayed in a gallery style configuration throughout the ground floor. Nature and colour also influenced the interior – from Little Greene National Trust collection paint to the art and design-led home décor, we wanted to our home to reflect our passions.
In what ways is your work influenced by your location?
My art is influenced by expansive open spaces of rural landscapes that I grew up surrounded by in Poland. Now I live in Sussex I love to escape to rolling hills of the Downs. I want my art to mark the special connection between our home, the land around us and the sometimes minute and other times timeless moments that link these. I often paint views captured on walks or trips with my loved ones. That’s also why I’m drawn to the unassuming beauty of nature that surrounds us, whether it’s a grass field, a weathered fence or a ragged tree up Southwick Hill.
Can you tell us about how meeting co-artist Mervyn Hathaway has impacted your artistic practice and vice versa?
Mervyn and I are long-time friends and self-taught painters. We bonded over art at a time we both craved more creativity in our lives. I’m in constant awe of Mervyn’s imagination and his technique inspired by the great painters from the past. Even though we have quite different styles our work also strongly complements one another. Mervyn appreciates my looser feeling for the use of paint and what he calls a ‘deceptively simple sense of design’ that comes through in my art. He sees my work as strongly reminiscent of Caspar Freidrich. I, in turn, cherish having someone to learn from and exchange slightly wild ideas with. A lovely example of this is when Mervyn unexpectedly, and over a cold pint of bitters in Lewes, gifted me a canvas challenging me to paint a portrait. In exchange, I posed for his Flemish method inspired rendition of a Madonna style portrait called Dordonna packed with sentimental cues.
Alex and Dordonna
Aside from painting, what other creative activities are you engaged in?
I also work as a designer and innovation consultant. I like to say that I love making things, making things work better and making things beautiful. For many years design and innovation took priority over my art but over time I recognised that I needed art as a key part of my creativity. Also, now I no longer work in industrial design, I miss making things with my hands on a daily basis so art gives me that spontaneous, draftsmanship outlet.
Susannah Petszaft – papier mache bowls
Can you tell us about your guest artists and how you selected them?
Mervyn and I’ll be joined by mixed media artists Susannah Petszaft and Maggie Tuite.
Susannah creates in papier mache, botanical collages using her own printed materials, silk painting, abstract landscape painting and upcycled necklaces. Maggie is a textile artist based in Shropshire. She creates images from fabric and paper with needle and thread are her “tools of the trade”.
I was looking for artists who would complement mine and Mervyn’s work, but not necessarily in a direct way. Nature was the obvious theme but colour and texture can link a more diverse collection. I connected with Susannah via Artists Seeking Houses. I loved the naturalistic, malleable charm of her bowls. The 3D form would also add more dimension to our collection. Coincidentally, around then I also came across papier-mâché as the new sustainable homeware design trend that I loved. Maggie is a friend of Mervyn’s. I love the craftsmanship and imagination in her pieces. I saw her work previously in 2018 where I loved a lavender field piece she created for that show (it now hangs on Mervyn’s wall).
My close friend Holly from Seed and Thistles will also be lending me her grass cloud decorative art. I’d have loved for ceramicist or a sculptor to join us but they were in high demand and I missed my opportunity.
Maggie Tuite – Jewel of Jaipur
This is your first Open House – what are most looking forward to?
I’m most excited about having the opportunity to exhibit with Mervyn. The Open House feels like a special mark of our friendship and Mervyn’s mentorship. This May will be just over a year since I moved from Hove to Southwick and set up my art studio. It’s a lovely opportunity to meet more of the local community.
With majority of my past work being commissions, I’m excited to see how my art is received as a collection and what resonates most. I’m keen to show off my Wilmington Oil Sketches because I really enjoyed honing in on the looser use of paint in those pieces. Also, my painted lampshades because they bridge into design and storytelling.
Mervyn Hathaway – Mithlond of Paddington Arm
Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
Perhaps the biggest learning in my journey of rediscovering my passion for art has been learning to not sacrifice my creativity to keep harmony in work and home lives. How to carve out space to create, that I can pursue more than one passion, how to maintain consistency and not let things get in the way. I’m grateful and lucky to have had friends and family who have championed me along the way. Without those small nudges, one important question back in 2018 and time to share, I probably would still just be hoping to do this one day. But instead, I’m here hosting my first Open House.