Sunday, May 08, 2011

A fox at the Handmade House and a Green victory

Chickens alert to the passing fox
I had my back to it, but Mum and Jane saw it flash past and the chickens flapped to the roof of their coop when a fox rushed through the garden of the Handmade House towards the sculpture trail.

We were having lunch after looking round, particularly at Jane's paintings (Jane Fordham) and Emma's jewellery (Emma Willcox). I've worn two of Emma's bracelets for years - never take them off in fact, and Jane's work is all over my house.

The Handmade House is on the outskirts of Ditchling, the village at the foot of the Downs made famous by Eric Gill. Last year I bought Mum a duck - she's mildly obsessed by them - and this year they're joined by crows, owls and a kingfisher. Jane's paintings on wood are intricate images of plates and cups, as well as two standing nudes and a line of intensely colourful individual fruits.

I'm not sure what open houses say about Brighton or the difficulties artists have promoting themselves. The approach is just like that in Venda, the north of South Africa, where artists sell what they can from their homes. It's a  feature of the Brighton Festival, anyway and this year the success of the Greens in the city - 23 seats on the council, the single largest party - has added another layer of significance. Brighton, as always, ahead of the country, has a chance to distinguish the city, hopefully using its phenomenally creative population to make a mark on the future.

The Handmade House. Beards Place Farm, 98 Lewes Road, Ditchling, BN6 8TZ 01273 845355 

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