Leave Home Stay 2007
Leave Home Stay 2007 was designed as a one-off installation for RIBA South East's Architecture Week.
The whole house was an 'excavation' in which visitors were invited to explore the physical and metaphorical dig. All rooms were open to scrutiny. The house and garden became a series of borderline personal and public spaces, ranging from nostalgia-filled private home, to museum, artists' studio, archaeology dig site, to unexpected wild garden in a suburban street. The full exposure was a personal catharsis after the loss of my parents, but it also triggered memories in those unconnected to my family history. Writing about it over several days as a Guardian blog,
helped me articulate this 'open house'
The property is a simple double-fronted house in a suburban street, and flanked by the rise and fall of a gasometer. It is pebble-dashed and its appearance became careworn when my father's Parkinson's Disease ceased the DIY projects he had enjoyed. The swift moving in of developers after my mothers' death - letters through the letterbox and hovering agents - provoked the sense of unease and loss which inspired a radio programme, 'Leaving Home',
for BBC Radio 3.
This excavation of objects left as they were in a home I'd left 30 years before, became the audio for a photo installation at Bristol. It was broadcast while I was a student on the Summer Foundation course at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. This helped to crystallise the idea of dealing with Deal as creative process. The name Leave Home Stay came as a response to my indecision about staying, or selling. The coupling of 'Leave Home' and 'Home Stay' seemed appropriate for someone brought up in a Jersey guest house.
Far from apologising for the loss of Victorian features, I celebrated the architectural change-over- time, from the polystyrene ceiling tiles, to the orange 70s emulsion revealed when I took down a kitchen cupboard. One sitting room floor was exposed to its Victorian soil foundation, revealing years of old cabling charting technological change, and a damaged metal teapot, possible installed while it was built (I replaced where I found it, together with a contemporary newspaper and Leave Home Stay material). There were and other traces and marks - the layers of paint on hardboard, the residues concealed by 1960s door panels - and these were highlighted and installed as art work. A series of family photographs were held behind fishing line on a large canvas. In the garden, tangles of coloured line recalled the big news event of 70s Deal when the sea wall was breached, and the house, and garden, flooded.
Leave Home Stay Podcast for Architecture Week >>>