Phoenix Gallery Open Studios

For one weekend only the Phoenix opens its studios, giving Brighton the opportunity to see the work and working spaces of the 120 artists that are busy producing paintings, sculpture, prints, fabrics, photography and much more. It’s an opportunity not to be missed, whether you want to purchase a new original piece of art, peruse the mass of work in a lively and varied gallery or experience and chat to the artists at work.

One of the highlights this year is the beautiful black and white portrait photography of Manel Ortega (above) which takes pride of place in the ground floor corridor gallery. The corridor space displays Manel’s project to document each of the artists who work at the Phoenix but head up to the 2nd floor to Manel’s studio and you can also see other photographs from across his more than 30 years behind a camera, including some of his earliest portraits created in his stark striking black and white style.

Steve Fricker (above) produces some fantastic paintings, full of intense human characters with hints of Goya’s grotesques and Stanley Spencer’s living and breathing community.

Some rooms look like typical working artist studios, others produce their own special sense of wonder. In the latter category is Alice Wisden’s mess of vintage oddities and papers, dolls and paintings. It’s like discovering yourself inside a fairytale, a little like a ghost from 100 years ago has been let loose in Snoopers Paradise. In contrast, Clare Nias collects pocket books full of drawings and collages from many different people, all created with the aim of stimulating artistic expression.

The studio of Dagmara Rudkin (below) is a blaze of deep dark sensual colour and textures, including her fantastic mix of paints and found or scavenged objects, some of which go to make up her recreation of the children’s tale of Henny Penny.

Every corner of the Phoenix has some sort of novel surprise. Delve into the basement and you will find the beautiful light space inhabited by sculptor Mary Goody (below) with her pair of armless crouching torsos, looking like broken angels.

Phoenix Brighton Open Studios, 11am-5pm Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 May.

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Jon Southcoasting

Jon Southcoasting photographs all sorts, including music, writes about things, as often as not musical, and sometimes plays his own songs too. He lives in Brighton.

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