A POPULAR illustrator helped launch a city art festival.

Brighton-based children’s illustrator Chris Riddell was in attendance at the official launch of the 2019 Artists Open Houses festival.

The celebration of art is the largest event of its kind in the UK.

It takes place in houses across Brighton, Hove and beyond over four weekends in May, starting Saturday May 4.

Free to visit, the festival will see more than 1,500 artists and makers opening the doors to their houses or studios to exhibit and sell their artworks direct to the public.

This year more than 180 venues across the city will be open, giving festival-goers an exclusive snapshot of how artists live and work.

There is a diverse selection of artwork on show, from original paintings, prints, ceramics and textiles to photography, sculpture, crafts, jewellery and more.

The artists’ houses are grouped into one of 14 trails around different areas of the city, each with its own unique character and atmosphere from the beautiful Regency houses in Brunswick to the colourful fishermen’s houses of Hanover to the urban warehouse spaces of the North Laine and cottages of the South Downs villages of Ditchling and Clayton.

Judy Stevens, Artists Open Houses Festival director said: “The Artists Open Houses offer audiences the chance to see locally made, seriously good arts and crafts, as well as being an inclusive community event.

“We welcome artists of all ages and from all areas of the community including a significant number of venues showing the work of artists who may otherwise be potentially excluded from the mainstream art world – those who have experienced periods of homelessness, are in recovery, or have learning disabilities or metal health issues.

“At the core of our ethos is a belief in the great benefits of art for all, and in offering opportunities for a new engagement between these artists and our audiences.”