Sophie Wake – Being an AOH First Timer

Red Brick House – Kemptown

What could possibly possess anyone to consider opening their front door to the public for the month of May? Who would put themselves and their family through the upheaval of turning their home and lives upside-down in the name of art?

I have to admit, until recently I would have thought doing an Open House a complete anathema. But somehow, in the way things happen sometimes, in what felt like a moment of madness I found myself registering as an AOH (Artist Open House) for very first time last year, 2017.

For twenty years I had worked as a busy professional illustrator for clients in advertising, publishing and editorial from my studio at home. There were tight deadlines and I would rarely meet the clients in person. More recently I chose to give up the hectic whirl in favour of a simpler life, listening to my heart’s call to just paint.

The following months, weeks and days saw my studio pile high with to-do lists, canvases, prints, frames, idea boards, greetings card designs, private view plans, invigilating rota … the list goes on… and when finally we moved all our furniture upstairs, the top floors were piled high and my bedroom became an obstacle course. I would slalom to bed though books and printers, piles of furniture, kitchen wear and miscellaneous knick-knacks, whilst downstairs there appeared a beautiful serene gallery space.

In fact, to experience a clear and clutter free house (downstairs at least) was one of the biggest joys for me. We even took the interior doors off to give a more spacious free flow around the rooms.

To my utter surprise and delight, our Open House was a great success. The private view was fabulous fun and a great release after all our hard work. Thankfully it seemed my fears around opening to the general public were unfounded. In fact it proved to be a great honour and privilege to meet and greet all sorts of folk into my home whom I would never usually meet under my usual day-to-day circumstances.

On good days we had in excess of 200 people visiting our home gallery space. I was keen to create an intriguing, sensory and welcoming experience for our visitors.

And finally, the icing on the cake was my nomination and shortlisting for both cover artist for next years AOH brochure, Best Open House and Hand Made at Amazon’s Best Newcomer Award.
To my utter surprise and delight I won the Best Newcomer Award.

By the end we were all completely exhausted, but with a sense of joy at having successfully risen to the challenge and tried out something new.

We look forward to welcoming you again for our second year at the Red Brick House