top of page

the shed | Philippa Stanton

I am not sure where the days go, how it can be a week already since my last post… I hope your week has been a good one? Mine has been full of planning our next building project with a day off to attend a workshop on Wednesday (more about that next week) along with the usual weekly chaos that comes with three children.

But first, a bit of fun from last week! I spent last Friday in the company of five lovely ladies drinking tea, taking photos and visiting Philippa Stantons open house. What connects us all is Instagram although this isn’t all we have in common, it was great to catch up with the ladies I have met before and equally good meeting those I haven’t. Suffice to say I came home feeling pretty happy. It’s always fun to spend time with people who understand the need to stand on a chair and take a photograph.

The highlight of the day for me (and the reason we met at all!) was the visit to 64 Sandgate Rd where Philippa hosts her artists open house and has all manner of beautiful work to browse and buy, although possibly my favourite work of art was ‘the shed’…

I will let Philippa explain the story of the shed…

Before I moved to Brighton I had a lovely studio in Brixton in an old courtyard behind some restaurants which I shared with a gilder, a facial hair maker and a wig maker! When I moved to Brighton 15 years ago I had to give up the studio but part of the joy of working there was arranging everything and having a space for things which sort of couldn’t belong inside…I liked being surrounded by things I liked but which didn’t necessarily have any use. After a while in Brighton I found a shepherd’s hut to work in in the middle of the countryside, and again it was my place for things as well as work.

When I got divorced, being a single parent meant I had to cut right back so the shepherd’s hut had to go too, but as I still had to work, and have somewhere where I could paint without worrying that I was making a mess or having to clear up after me, I decided that it would be cheaper to get an off the peg shed built at home. My Granny had just died and my Dad suggested ‘ why doesn’t Granny buy your shed’! I thought it was a brilliant idea, as my Granny had had the best shed ever ( which we were only allowed in occasionally), but which my Grandpa had built from scratch for her to do all her flower arranging…

I remember it had a strange smell of old dried flowers in there and my dad’s old crib full of weird twigs and driftwood. So the shed was built and a few things that had been inside my Granny’s shed moved in too ( although I sold the crib at a car boot!! ). I decorated it and used pieces of reclaimed wood for shelving; some of the wood is from the Old West Pier…some are pieces I found in the garden. I didn’t have any money so I did everything as cheaply as I could.

A couple of years after the shed was built I decided that for part of the Open House exhibition that I always held at Christmas and during May, I would create an installation for people to simply visit, rather than feeling pressured to buy anything when they came to visit. Art is about the enjoyment and experience of someone’s personal creativity and shouldn’t have to be just about selling work, and I noticed that lots of people who visited my house apologised for not buying anything…

I wanted to provide something that wasn’t for sale. So, my first attempt was at Christmas one year where I took the theme of ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and that then led to much broader themes, which I prefer now, and which always have an element of collecting about them. There was a huge collection of Penguin Books everywhere you looked one year, Vintage Travel and Luggage, An American Pioneer’s Cabin, The Shipwreck Shed last year, and every Christmas there’s a sort of Wintery theme with a different twist.

I also asked Philippa to share a little more about the Fiveways Artists group and open house trail…

The Fiveways Area in Brighton is basically where Open Houses started back in 1982, and the area has more open houses in a small area probably than any other in the country. It was all started by artist Ned Hoskin’s, now in his 70’s and who is opening his house for the last time this year.

The Open Houses is a way of showing people art in the artist’s home, chatting to the artists, and it also serves as a good opportunity to give people a good idea of how art can work in a domestic environment as opposed to a gallery which is often quite intimidating. I have been part of the group for about 12 years now, which was pretty daunting in my late 20’s as everyone was much older than me, but it has been a real rock for me during many difficult times…and also makes me get organised at least twice a year!!

You can find Philippas Instagram page @5ftinf here and keep up with her open house page @64sandgate here which includes details of all the artists work available. The open house weekends run during May and this weekend there is also a 5ftinf pop-up shop at Vine Street Vintage in Brighton. Should you be interested in purchasing any of Philippas work (a lot of which is new and not yet listed on her website) but are unable to visit over the next two weekends, you can email her via the link on her website. If you can visit I highly recommend it!

When out with Instagrammers…

I couldn’t resist sharing this photograph of Xanthe on a chair, don’t worry she had asked permission before standing on the furniture!

J x


bottom of page