During the nearly five weeks in Austria over the summer we have now got an architect who we feel understands us and wants to join our journey. What distinguished him from the other two we talked to is he listens, he understands what we are about, he sees it as a stimulating challenge to work with us (not sure what the others think about this one) and we saw one of the buildings he designed and made and liked it.
Two days ago I re-watched a Grand Design series 14 episode 5, the cowshed in London. I absolutely love that project with its unusual use of materials, the industrial feel to it, the rawness of the spaces, the hight of the rooms that gives you a unique spacious feel and the eccentric aesthetic of it all. In addition of course I find the owners Tracy and Steve very interesting people and for me their character is so well reflected in the building.
Seeing that project again reminded me of the book The Architectural Uncanny’: Essays in the modern unhomely. I bought this book a couple of years ago after it was recommended to me during the project where I set up a planning space in a gallery and talked to people about their experiences. I’m reading this book now. There was this part in the program where the couple visited another house and they stood on a tiled floor that suddenly sunk and filled with water transforming it into a swimming pool. So ‘unheimlich’. The book talks about the intrigueing and unsettling qualities of a lot of contemporary architecture “its public representation buried in earthworks or lost in mirror reflection, its ‘seeing walls’ reciprocating the passive gaze of domestic cyborgs, its spaces surveyed by moving eyes assimilating “transparency, …” (Preface IX).
Does this uncanniness soften once these modern spaces become a home and are inhabited by people?
I’m interested in this conversion if there is one. I think there is. Spaces are somehow taken over by its inhabitants, they become part of them too and so the edges of the uncanny soften and turn into a haunted characteristic that is not so obvious anymore.
Still in the process of getting rid of stuff in the house. That’s a tedious procedure.
My solo exhibition ‘Home’ at Red Gallery in Hull will open this Friday 8th and I offered to do a talk and table discussion Saturday 9th. There I will give an insight to my research about ‘home’ and present my projects that have come out of that research so far. In a way the research is the work but it does develop a clearer language when it is presented to the public and that clearness helps me to understand better what I am doing .
After this exhibition I need to just be still for a little time and catch up with myself and the mass of thoughts that is growing in my head. I am starting with my current home and have a big clear out and then work inwards doing the same with my thoughts. I think I am starting to say goodbye.
Will be interesting what responses I get from the three questions in the house constructions ‘What does home mean to you?’, ‘What is your relationship to your objects in your home?’ and ‘ Do you think we need/don’t need a home and why?’. The three house structures are very close to each other but facing a different direction so intimacy is still there. The little white soap houses inside look very crisp and I hope many people share their thoughts about home and take a little house. It is a bit precarious to walk around amongst them and I quite like that as it dictates the way one has to move but will see what the feedback is.
The sound composition of people’s thoughts about home is not the best quality which makes me a bit unhappy but it is what it is and next time I can find a way to improve that. The speakers are put on an OSB board shelf low on the ground.
Then there is the presentation of the objects cast in white soap. I love those and want to do more. They are presented on a OSB board on tresses, OSB like the the material the house structures are made out off. The white soap objects look great on the OSB boards and it connects them to the houses.
In the process of translating the first brief for the architects in Austria. Clear out of present home is starting.
I’m thinking about the transition from a house to a home which is very closely related to the transition from space to place. I can see four main strands that make a or better will make our house (once it is built) a home: 1) the creative energy that grows in a place when people do creative things; 2) the visibility of the passage of time so the objects in a house that are specific to its inhabitants lives; 3) the food the people cook there and 4) the language that is spoken in the house and I don’t mean necessarily foreign languages.
I believe that every family has its own way of talking with its family members. In our case it will be German and English as well as the way we talk to each other and that adds a different feel to the home. All these elements vary from one home to another and it might be interesting to look into different homes and see how these four points make a different home each time; a unique place that is very specific to the people that live in it.
I’m thinking about how our homes influence the way we live our lives? Can different homes bring out different sides of ourselves? So for instance do we entertain more when we’ve got more space? Do we interact more with nature and grow veg when we have a garden where we can do that? Do we feel generally happier if our home as higher more spacious rooms where we enjoy spending time in? Do we feel more creative if we are surrounded by certain materials and spaces?
Plasterer has fitted a new ceiling rose in the living room and sorted out missing parts of the coving in the dining room.
As that needs painting now we are thinking of painting all the walls in the dining room too.
For a few weeks now we have been working on a brief for the architects and I find that a very creative and stimulating process. A brief could take many forms but we decided to make a number of mind maps with titles like ‘What we like’, ‘Materials we like’, ‘What we enjoy doing’, ‘Images we like’, … it also includes a little paragraph about each member of the family and all this should help the architect to understand us as a family, how the spaces need to flow and how they should be assembled to fit our daily lives. I shall be very interested in how the architects respond to that. Only one architect actually asked for a brief at this stage but we will send it out to all three of them.
I have contacted three architects now and they all confirmed they are interested in working with us and we will meet them in the summer when we are in Austria.
A plasterer will come next Monday to put up a ceiling rose in the lounche and complete the missing coving in the dining room.
We are working on a brief for the architects.
After the house/home project has slowed down it is picking up again and becoming real. MOVING PLANS ARE STARTING TO MOVE. Now I want to write everything down but then it just becomes a normal diary so I need to find a framework for the practicalities to make it work as a project, find an artistic perspective. It is the everyday, the normal life or the fine line between that normal life and the art that I am interested in. I don’t want to take a fracture of normal life and say this is art but find an artistic perspective for it and that is the challenge. Ok, I have planned a real house and the fact that I did that in a gallery, in an art context and the fact that what I focused on were the conversations with the audience made it for me a piece of work with a different perspective.
Next real life situation is getting our current house/home ready for sale. This is quite an emotional act as this is the only home my boys have ever known and where we put a lot of energy and time in. Although the walls of this house have listened to a lot of families over the last one hundred and seven years and we are just the current one living in here I find it hard to think another family is going to call it their home. Yes, I want a family to live in here to carry on the tradition (thinking of Julie Meyerson’s book ‘Home: The Story of Everyone Who Ever Lived in Our House).
All this preparation tasks will go in a kind of diary and I think that’s the form it will have for now. Parallel to that and what is more connected with the actual new home/house are our evenings when we are reading two Kevin McCloud books ‘Grand Designs handbook’ and ‘Principles of Home’. And what I take on board from these is the way McCloud thinks about home namely through the way you live not about what you want and think you need to have in a new home/house in a material sense. Reading these books feels like having a conversation with him and yourself about your life style and how you could improve it or just become more aware and conscious of it. I’m making lots of notes and underlining comments in these books and those comments and underlinements might become something else, maybe something physical or maybe conversations or something completely different.
Decisions we make for the home/house we are leaving are different to what they would be if we’d stay. That feels sad but I guess it’s part of a detachment process and making space for the people who will make it their home. We are trying to finish off bits that have never been finished as the whole living in a house is an open process, declutter, make it plainer so people can think themselves into the house when they come and look at it. It is almost like giving them a poem to read where there have space in between the lines and around it rather then fiction where most is articulated already.
Contacted first architect, an old friend of mine, in Austria asking if he’d be interested in working with us and finalise our plans. He is yipieeeeeee ! Need to find some other ones so we have some choice.
Awaiting three quotes for plaster work; ceiling rose in the living room and finishing and repairing coving in the dining room.