JoMo’s journey – from walking tours of Open Houses to opening her own house!

AOH Tours 2005

Hi Jo. This is the first time you have opened your house as part of the AOH festival – but you have previously been involved in AOH. Can you tell us about your original involvement, when this was and how it came about?
Prior to becoming directly involved with the AOH festival I had already been a long-standing and regular visitor to the Artists Open Houses. In 2005 I was approached by AOH to see if I would be interested in being a walking tour guide for the event – maybe because of the amount of miles I had tramped around Brighton and Hove over the years! I had got to know a number of artists and makers through the festival, plus I had a background as a visiting tutor at local art colleges and so had experience of working with groups.

Andy McLynn and visitors on a walking tour

Your Open Houses walking tours, funded by Arts Council England, were very popular! Would you like to tell us what they led to and what came out of it?
It was such a lovely thing to be invited to participate in. The first weekend was always a bit of a mad dash as I had to visit as many houses as possible in order to put together the tours for the following three weekends. Each tour would be around a different trail area, we would meet an artist in each house who would give a brief talk about their working process and we’d end at a house serving tea and cake and have a chat about the tour.

Artist Judy Dwyer talks about her work

The tours were really enjoyable and it was such a great opportunity to introduce so many people to AOH, including a lot of locals who had never ventured into an Open House before. To regular AOH visitors it’s perfectly acceptable to walk into a stranger’s house, but it can seem intimidating or awkward to the first-time visitor. My very first tour of Hove was particularly memorable; it was wet and windy and along the way we managed to pick up a jolly Brazilian chap who enthusiastically joined the group and proceeded to drink a can of lager for every house we visited! 

This initial tour also included local film makers Paul Loman and Barbara Myers who were so inspired by the whole event that they decided to make a film celebrating the AOH. They kindly invited me to participate; I assisted in choosing some of the artists to feature and I did a couple of day’s filming with them at different houses, which was a joy. Their film art:house has since been shown at numerous film festivals and I am still in touch with Barbara and Paul.

Paul Loman and Barbara Myers and other visitors on the tour

The AOH tours ran for a number of years and I continued my involvement with the AOH serving on the committee in a more general capacity, being involved with all aspects of the event throughout the whole year. It takes 12 solid months of preparation to put on such a large and wide-ranging event, which many people don’t realise.


What made you decide to open your house this year?!
Well, it actually started last summer when we were having drinks in the garden with our new neighbours. It was the first time they had been to my house and giving them a quick tour around they commented on the amount of art I have on display – much of it bought directly from artists at the annual AOH event.

“ Why don’t you open your house?”

“ Because I know how much work is involved, that’s why!”

But the seeds were sown and after discussion with my partner (artist Laurence Wallace) we decided to dive in. We made a wish list of the artists we would like to invite and, amazingly, they all said yes. Being the AOH 40th anniversary event makes it even more special and a great time to participate. This incredible Open House idea (which originated in Brighton) deserves to be celebrated. 

Samantha Stas – Born to be Wild pennant

Can you tell us about your own work and also who will be exhibiting with you?
My own background is in illustration and design so my commercial work has been completely digital in recent years. During the last year I have been reassessing and began making actual pieces of artwork in cardboard – a material I have returned to over the years. And so Cardboard Kingdom was created! I make colourful characters in recycled hand-painted cardboard and using vintage wallpapers. I’ve been a bit obsessed with big hair! And cats and dogs too (moggies and doggies!).

Jo Moore  – Rufus and Rex 

It’s a thrill to be showing some festival favourites as well as introducing artists and makers who will be making their AOH debut. I will be presenting: Laurence Wallace’s quietly contemplative still-life watercolour paintings where all is not as it seems, Colin Mier’s vibrant, colourful, abstract silkscreen prints, Andrew Morris’s paintings of the south east coast, Amanda Sharkey’s mixed media and digital paintings inspired by the landscape, Judy Dwyer’s marvellous menagerie of handmade 3D textile creatures, Lesley Bisseker’s boldly graphic hand-stitched quilted cushions made from vintage Japanese fabrics, Samantha Stas’ one-off whimsical textile creations made with vintage and reclaimed fabrics, Pip and Pickle’s delightful handmade natural sea glass jewellery.

Laurence Wallace- Pride of Place

What are you most looking forward to in taking part?
The chance to put on a really great show (I hope) and to be part of the super friendly West Hove Arts Trail. It’ll be lovely to meet people face to face and be able to discuss the work on show. So many friends I haven’t seen for ages have said they will visit and there’s even going to be a mini reunion with some folks who I haven’t met since we left college over thirty years ago! The support already has been amazing and we haven’t even opened yet! The whole event has such a lovely atmosphere and I’m really looking forward being part of something so creative and positive. We look forward to welcoming you.

Colin Mier – Costero

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
There is no better way of viewing artwork in such a friendly environment, to have the chance to meet the artists and makers, to make that personal connection and find a piece of work that speaks to you. With so much choice there is something for everyone. Wishing all the participating houses and artists a wonderful, safe and successful AOH event.

Visit JoMo Hove
at 31 Wordsworth Street, Hove, BN3 5BG
on the West Hove trail


AOH Tours 2005

For further information go to: [email protected] 

To see more work by my participating artists:
Laurence Wallace
Colin Mier
Amanda Sharkey
Samantha Stas
Andrew Morris
Pip And Pickle
Judy Dwyer
Lesley Bisseker
Jo Moore


Amanda Sharkey – Colne Estuary Wivenhoe (Winter)

Andrew Morris – Amusements

Jo Moore – Cardboard Kingdom Barry

Judy Dwyer  – From One Duck to Another

Laurence Wallace – The Event

Lesley Bisseker – Rouge Allure

Pip and Pickle – sea glass pendant