’The nature of things’ at Artists’ House, UK
It’s been just over ten years since London architect Stephen Marshall built Artists’ House, the contemporary cottage on the grounds of the New Art Centre in Wiltshire and a modern foil for the grand 1804 mansion and Orangery at Roche Court. Originally conceived as a residence for artists putting in long days in the sculpture park, it was repurposed a few years ago by curator Sarah Griffin for the centre’s first design exhibition. This weekend Griffin will launch a second design show, which features work by three Britain-based artists - a juxtapostion of domestic household items with larger-than-life creations.
Swiss-born artist Hans Stofer takes up residence - quite literally - on the ground and lower-ground floors, where he has ’unpacked’ his personal miscellany. In reality, he has recreated or photographed these everyday things in the studio, yet he exposes them here in such a raw state that the viewer feels like a trespasser in a very private world.
Jennifer Lee, the London-based potter, occupies the first floor with her delicate, earthy ceramic vessels, mathematical in form and yet anachronistic in appearance. Lee’s extraordinary talent is in her process: she uses no wheels or glazes, yet attains a warm, sophisticated result with just a hint of (meticulously planned) asymmetry.
There’s a duality to Lee’s work that seems to be an overriding theme at the Artists’ House. Out in the courtyard, especially, the work of Laura Ellen Bacon is at once monumental and inconspicuous, blending into the bucolic grounds. The Derby-based artist sculpts with willow in the image of enormous hornet’s nests and organic baskets. Her work seems to cling organically to the sides of buildings, wrap around trees and drape over ancient stone ramparts like overgrowth years in the making.
And yet it will be in situ only until April, which seems slightly surreal. Emptying the Artists’ House come spring will be like an exhumation of objects that have collected there over generations.