Your average artist's open house consists of a few paintings or sculptures in somebody's kitchen, sometimes good, sometimes less so. Some though take it to another level, and transform or display their whole house as a kind of art installation. Recently I have had the pleasure of visiting two examples of the latter, both in their own very different ways 'cabinets of curiosities' collecting together various strange and beautiful objects rather than simply showing works of arts.
Nunhead and District Municipal Museum and Art Gallery
For the past three years a house in Gellatly Road SE14 has been transformed into the 'Nunhead and District Municipal Museum and Art Gallery' during the Telegraph Hill Festival. The museum exhibits includes 50+ years of domestic and pop culture detritus situated in a whole mythos of Nunhead pseudo-history featuring the sadly imaginary 'George Gellatly' (industrialist and museum founder), 'Nunhead Alhambra', lost post-punk band The Nunhead Cemeteries and the 'Nunhead Free University' - not to mention the 'Penge Pilgrimage Centre' and the 'Thamesmead DeLarge Foundation' - see below, click to enlarge.
Each year it has become more elaborate, with 2011 seeing fictional blue plaques apperaing all round the area and a theatre space created in a converted garage with lots of musical and other performances from the likes of the Transpontine Music Club and the Brockley Bonfire Choir.
(see report on Nunhead Museum 2009)
This year's Dulwich Festival Open House has extended to take in swathes of Forest Hill and Sydenham, encompassing Mark Hill and Kate Shipp's Recycled House (4b Longton Avenue, SE26). Unlike the 'Nunhead Museum', this is not a temporary event but an ongoing project of daily life premised on critiquing consumerism through the domestic use of recycled objects and materials. There are walls papered with pages from old French novels, 1940s letters and player piano sheet music, and collections of glass objects, Catholic artefacts and old telephones.
The Recycled House is open again next weekend, 14-15th May 2011, 11am-6pm. Their chocolate cake is very good too!