Ned Hoskins – Founder of the Open Houses
When Ned Hoskins returned to Brighton, following a year spent living and working in California, he was struck by the lack of opportunities for visual artists to exhibit their work in the city. His solution was to turn his home into a gallery and open it to the public during Brighton Festival. From this small seed the Artists Open Houses movement grew, spreading out across the city – and is now emulated both nationally and internationally.
Ned Hoskins was a painter, etcher, teacher and curator. Born in 1939 in Croydon, at four years old he moved to Yorkshire and considered himself a Yorkshire man. He studied at Harrogate Art School, then at the Royal College of Art where he worked as a technician for David Hockney and got to know the Rolling Stones. Later he worked as a designer and part-time lecturer at West Sussex College of Art, before moving to Buckinghamshire, lecturing at High Wycombe Art College. A fine art fellowship at Southampton University was followed by lecturing in California where he met Andy Warhol – before returning to Brighton to found the Fiveways Artists’ Group.
Ned believed art is for everybody; he wanted everyone to be able to view and own original art. By removing the invisible barriers that kept people out of art galleries and inviting the public into his home, Ned’s aim was to democratise art, opening it up to all.
Ned died in 2021 at the age of 81. His art has sold around the world, his paintings are held in private collections throughout the UK and as a permanent display in Southampton City Art Gallery – but the thing he was most proud of was the legacy of the Artists Open Houses.
Mid April in our house was always a month of great activity. Ned would take down all the paintings, touch up the paint work, fill in holes where paintings had hung and generally prepare the walls as a canvas for his work. Then the new work, he nearly always showed new work, would be brought down from his studio and he would move it around working out the best place for each piece. If he was exhibiting with another artist their work would be moved around to find the best place for that work too. Once the work was hung, furniture would be moved or stored upstairs in our bedroom. Finally, I would be brought into the activity to write his statements and type up titles and the prices. As time passed this activity became more frenetic until the evening before the opening would culminate in us going to the Private View where Ned was always the life and soul of the party.
Gerry Holloway, Ned’s wife.
There are so many memories of the open houses for me, I was 14 the year my Dad opened his house for the 1st time. It was a part of my life ever since, to a point where I’d felt almost possessive of it on his behalf. The queue to get into the house would go up the street, the early days of Open Houses, it was an event. We would have to let one in one out, to keep it safe.
The story of Ned opening the house caught peoples imaginations, there would interviews in the press, local TV would turn up I couldn’t have been prouder of my Dad!
Cass Hoskins – Ned Hoskins’ daughter