The Chocolate House’s Ev Day talks to AOH

Hi Evelyn. Your venue is called The Chocolate House – that sounds intriguing! Can you tell us something about it?
I love chocolate not just eating it but also working with it. Chocolate is a wonderful and very versatile medium. I created Chocadyllic six years ago after making a friend “a proper chocolate cake”. As time went on I realized it was the chocolate art I loved creating. Last year I thought it would be fantastic idea to host a chocolate open house in the Artist Open Houses during Brighton Festival. I have a lovely studio at the back of our house overlooking the garden where I create chaos, chocolate mess, and chocolate sculptures. I have had such fantastic reactions from people who see my work that I thought it would be fantastic to open the studio to the public to show them what can be done with chocolate. After all who doesn’t love chocolate!

Do you consider yourself to be a sculptor who just happens to work in chocolate?
I’ve always been creative and consider myself to be a very visual person. When I was six years old my dad returned from business trip to Australia with a koala teddy bear for me. I promptly sat down and created a pencil drawing of it. I remember feeling quite proud of the result.

I’ve studied art, printmaking, some architecture, design and photography many years ago. I didn’t spend much time studying architecture but it must have made a big impression on me as I love it and am constantly inspired by buildings everywhere I go. Brighton has such great architecture and buildings; everywhere is chocolate eye candy.

So I suppose you could say I am a sculptor who just happens to work in chocolate although I’d probably say I’m more of a chocoholic obsessively creating with chocolate.

Who else will be exhibiting alongside you and how did you choose your guest artists?
I’m delighted to say I have seven wonderful artists who have agreed to come along and show their amazing work at the Chocolate House. There’s Dan Johnson Hand cut collage, screenprint and giclée, Kay Aplin Ceramics, Mish Maudsley Drawing and painting, Moyra Scott Acryilic on canvas, mixed media, prints and art cards, Natalie Bulan Michtechnik (acrylic, egg tempera, oil) and Giclee prints, Sophie Sheinwald Street Dog Photography – canine and human relationships, and Stevie Zag Paintings.

I’ve been a fan of Kay’s ceramics for quite some time now and love her Ceramic House that has been a part of the Brighton Open Houses for some years. When I heard she wasn’t opening her house this year I jumped at the opportunity to invite her to join me in the Chocolate House.

Dan’s work is quite remarkable and he is quite the talented Brighton artist. We have a few of his prints in our home already – I was delighted when my husband Rob surprised me with a beautiful print of his for my last birthday. It’s not for sale! However there will be a number of pieces his work at the Open House for sale.

Mish is an incredibly talented artist who’s work will be a wonderful addition to the exhibition. I just love Moyra’s work – her art is so free and flowing and the colours are just beautiful. Natalie’s work is quite magical and ephemeral. Sophie’s street dog photography is simply fantastic.

As for Stevie – well many, many years ago I bought a fabulous painting of his at an auction. It is massive and I hesitated to buy it because of how big it is. Luckily I won the bid and found a wall big enough for it. When I told him I was doing the open house and he asked to join, there was no hesitation in saying yes.

I’ve known all the artists for quite a few years. It wasn’t difficult to choose them as I appreciate and enjoy all their work. There will be quite a variety of art as they all create very different work. I’m sure it will create a lovely, varied and enjoyable exhibition. I can’t wait to hang it all and set up the house ready for visitors. I’m very excited!

In your Open House you will be having a chocolate café and chocolate demos – and you also offer chocolate workshops – can you tell us a little about these?
I’ve always wanted to run my own café so felt this would be the perfect opportunity hence the chocolate café – there will be bakes, hot chocolate, drinking chocolate, chocolate ice-cream, and some chocolate products for people to try and buy. I might even have weekend special creations each week that I’ll make up each week for people to enjoy. Something chocolaty and yummy.

We have a side alley that runs along the side of the kitchen. We’ve created a bit of an outside den in this space with sofas and tables and chairs and even some AstroTurf! This is where Kay Aplin will display her amazing ceramics, which will make this space even lovelier. The area is covered so come rain or shine it is a fab space to hang out. Visitors will be able to relax and enjoy a drink, some chocolate goodies and some cake.

I’m hoping to do the odd demo here or there in the chocolate studio: just some simple techniques to show how to work with chocolate.

There will be plenty of chocolate pieces for people to sample; dark, milk and white chocolate as well as coloured chocolate pieces – leftover pieces from recent commissions.

Your job sounds like heaven – but do you ever get sick of chocolate?!
I wish I got sick of chocolate. I’m constantly tempted to eat the stuff as I’m working with it. It smells amazing, looks wonderful and gets everywhere. When I’m creating a commission there will often be little bits of shavings or curls or delicious offcuts that will be just lying around waiting to be stored for another use. It’s almost impossible to not eat them, and then once I start I can’t stop. What I really do love about my job is the joy people get when they see what I have made them. It’s the best part of the job!

What are you most looking forward to about putting on your first Open House?
I’m really looking forward to welcoming people into my home and sharing the joy and fun I have working with chocolate. I’m looking forward to exhibiting all the fantastic and original artworks and how our home will become a gallery for the month of May. I’m sure it will have a lovely welcoming atmosphere full of wonderful things to see, try and buy. Though if I’m really honest I’m most looking forward to running the chocolate café – a dream I’ve had ever since I was a little girl and used to play post office with my best friend!

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
We live in Hangleton, west Hove. It’s not really that far from Brighton and central Hove! There is plenty of free parking and lots of buses that run frequently and stop nearby (5, 5A and 5B). There is a lovely green opposite the house where you can see the sea and have a picnic. We’re also just down the road from lovely walks on the Downs. Visitors can easily pop in to wander through the Chocolate House to enjoy the art, the chocolate, the chocolate café, and the den. We’re not that far from Brighton and Hove, and it’ll be so worth a visit!

The Chocolate House, 78 Hangleton Way, Hove, BN3 8EQ