ARTISTS have thrown open their doors to the public for the festive season.

Brighton and Hove’s Artists Open Houses, the biggest event of its kind in the UK, celebrates talent and creativity – and offers people the chance to buy original creations directly from the artists in their own homes.

The festival launched this weekend and will continue for the next two weekends.

Some houses are bursting with Christmas decorations and lights while others are expressing themselves with a little more subtlety.

Julie Jennings and Julie Clark have gone for a more minimalist touch at their open house in Springfield Road, Brighton.

Julie Jennings exhibited some of her work in the first open houses that started in Fiveways in the 1980s and throughout the 1990s.

She said: “Artist Open Houses is such a great event for creative people because it allows us to exhibit art that we might not otherwise exhibit and have feedback from members of the public.

“Sometimes it’s hard to put up your art somewhere, especially if you don’t have space in your own house.

“It’s a really good way of getting your work out into the open.”

Julie Clark teaches art at Bexhill College and often sails along the coastline to inspire her art.

She said: “This event is a great way of getting a lot of creative people together.

“This is the first time I have used my own home for an open house and it’s lovely inviting people to come in and admire artwork and buy little gifts made by other artists.

“I’ve been really involved with the Artists Open Houses movement over the last few years but it’s great setting one up in my own home.”

While some of the houses are exhibiting recognised works of art, others are using the opportunity to include community projects.

William Collier House in North Road, Brighton, houses and supports single men and women who have experienced homelessness to improve their wellbeing, gain skills and maximise their confidence to live independent and fulfilling lives.

Its open house gallery, which opens this coming weekend (December 1 and 2) draws together varied works from artists through these projects and across Brighton YMCA.

Grace Eyre Art Studio in the Open Market in London Road, Brighton, is an inclusive space run by people with learning disabilities and has joined the movement of open houses.

While the studio is open for members of the public to admire the art, the space is also somewhere where people with learning disabilities can practise their customer service skills and help show visitors the varied artwork.

One of the members, Louis Walkden, 24, helps greet guests coming in and out of the studio and shows them the ceramics, paintings, drawings and crafts made by his peers.

Jenny Allan, project worker for the studio, said: “It’s great having the opportunity to exhibit the works of some of these people and have members of the public come and admire and appreciate it.

“Louis has also done really well with his customer service training and enjoys showing guests the art.

“It’s a great set up to be able to showcase art but also involve people like Louis and help them learn skills.”

There are about 60 different houses and studios around the city included in this year’s festival, offering very different artistic experiences.

All are focused around the artists’ work and most also offer a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie to tie in with the festive season.

Brighton Artists Open Houses was the originator of the Open House movement.

It dates back to 1981 when an artist from the Fiveways area, Ned Hoskins, opened his house to the public to show his work and that of a group of friends. It was such a success that others in the area followed suit to form the Fiveways Artists Group. In a city full of artistic people, the idea proved popular and soon Artists Open Houses sprung up all over, spreading to Hove and beyond.

The Artists Open Houses’ main event is in May when about 200 artists open their houses and studios for people to visit.

More than 1,000 artists and makers share their work and homes each year and the Christmas event is getting bigger all the time.