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What’s the Story? Secret Life of No 36

I’m a bit funny about my home – I love people to come over but certain things I like to keep private, like my books for instance – I don’t display them in what I call the ‘public’ spaces b ...

I’m a bit funny about my home – I love people to come over but certain things I like to keep private, like my books for instance – I don’t display them in what I call the ‘public’ spaces because I sense people are making a judgement about me from my reading matter. I know, this sounds a bit of an oddity to most people but I’m sure there are things in your home which you wouldn’t want other people rummaging around in. But that is exactly what a brave couple have allowed seven artists to do in their Victorian home, as an art installation, for the Crouch End Festival. I can’t wait to go – it sounds like a really fascinating experiment.


Here’s what they say about the project:

Space36 is an inhabited house in a residential street (Ashley Road) in Stroud Green, North London.

The residents of Space36  have invited seven artists to spend four months rummaging through the space, its history and the lives of its past and present inhabitants to fill the space with their “take” on anything they find.  The results will be on show over the weekends of 11/12 and 18/19 June in an exhibition called The Secret Life of no:36 as part of the Crouch End Festival.

For the inhabitants of Space36 it’s a suspenseful and scary prospect, giving up notions of privacy and personal space and allowing outsiders into their domestic lives. For artists and hosts like, it’s a unique opportunity to explore the boundaries of what private really means –  a minefield of implied permissions, really personal spaces, forgotten histories, implicit tastes and beliefs.

Space36 is an experiment in opening up a private domestic space to artists and visitors for thinking and art making in a collaborative and convivial setting to see what sort of art and what sort of conversations emerge. During opening hours of the exhibition, Space36 will run a Garden “Cafe” with delicious homemade tea and cakes to provide refreshments and a relaxed convivial atmosphere in which to view and discuss the art.

The artist taking part are: Roan Allen, Liz Brown, Esperanza  Gomez Carrera, Stephanie Conway, Livia Garcia, Jeannette Abi Khalil, Ahmed Farooqui.

And here’s an article from the Ham & High:

Seven artists are taking over the house, painting the ceiling, flying paper aeroplanes out the window, and even creating a room within a room

Ahmed Farooqui, an artist, and his partner, Alan Swann, a medical officer, invited artists into their spacious Ashley Road house, which they have owned for 20 years.

They will be welcoming the community to see the results as part of the Crouch End Festival in June.

“It’s a big risk, it’s not just me who’s involved, it’s my partner as well,” Mr Farooqui said.

“So there has to be a huge element of trust between us, as well as the artists, and the community as well – there’s no guarantee things won’t go pear-shaped!”

Mr Farooqui, 59, says although artists have taken over “edgier” spaces, such as warehouses in Hackney, this is perhaps the first time they will unleash their creativity on a Victorian home.

Uniquely, the artists will also seek inspiration from observing the lives and habits of the homeowners.

Artists Roan Allen, Liz Brown, Esperanza Gomez Carrera, Stephanie Conway, Livia Garcia, Jeannette Abi Khalil, as well as Mr Farooqui, with technical help from Mr Swann, will take part.

Mr Farooqui said he expects the art to be “intrusive” – but the artists will not permanently damage the house.

Artist Roan Allen interviewed the couple, asking them personal questions about their domestic routine.

The result will be an audio installation allowing visitors to eavesdrop on recordings within the room.

The house, built in the 1870s, used to belong to the Church, which will inspire Stephanie Conway’s work.

Jeanette Abi Khalil will be setting up a fine dining table – complete with take-away leaflets.

When Mr Farooqui and Mr Swan re-decorated the house, they discovered photographs of the previous occupants.

Artist Livia Garcia will be making a giant poster outside the home exploring their lives.

Mr Farooqui and Mr Swan want to create a “convivial” atmosphere, offering tea and cake to visitors.

“Contemporary art [in galleries] might only speaks to artists and people who know about art – it doesn’t speak to the general public. We want to bring contemporary artists into the community,” Mr Farooqui said.

– The Secret Life of no.36 will be taking place weekends June 11, 12, 18 and 19. See: space36.org.uk

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