Georgina Smith – Trail Contact for Hanover Trail

Does your trail have meetings to discuss Open House preparations with trail members ahead of the festival?
As this is my first year acting as the coordinator for Hanover Trail, it was really important to have a meeting for all of the houses on the trail. It is a great opportunity to pass on details from Trail Contacts’ meetings with the AOH team, to meet new trail members, share information and tips and generally get to know everyone. I think it makes the trail feel more inclusive and supportive if everyone has had a chance to meet. It it also an opportunity to discuss what the fee paid in to the trail (in order to join the trail) should cover.

What preparations do you need to do ahead of opening your house ?
Every year in February I hold a Coal Hole meet-up. It’s a good way for all the artists exhibiting in my Open House to meet each other, especially new artists to the house and also makes everyone feel that they have a say in how things are run. I usually have about 12 artists and makers in the house, for whom I provide all of the signage and also design the flyer. This means I spend a fair amount of time beforehand collating imagery and information. Then about two weeks before the festival starts, the big clear-out of downstairs begins. The Coal Hole displays work throughout the ground floor, so all bookcases, wall units and extraneous furniture is cleared out. I also have two small children so I have to be mindful that they still feel like it is their home!

How do you select your guest artists and curate your open house?
After four years of taking part in Open Houses I now have a core group of artists who show each year. I always try to have a few new artists in addition to the regular ones as this keeps things feeling fresh and different. I use platforms like Instagram and Etsy to find new artists and sometimes people just come to me through word of mouth.

What do you most look forward to about opening your house?
Living in a close-knit area like Hanover, it is a lovely way to meet local people and get very direct feedback on your work. It’s great to feel part of the wider artistic community and I still get a buzz every time a visitor buys one of my artists’ work.

What advice would you give artists opening their house for the first time this May?
Once you are up and running with the door open it will all be worth it and it will be much less stressful than you think (as long as you keep an accurate record of all your artists’ sales)!