2018 2016 2015 2017: SHOW HOME. TWO YEARS. LIMBS    

SHOW HOME, The Old Police Station, 2017. Shortlisted for the Art Licks Workweek Prize. Sarah White & James Watts. Installation and performance.

  SHOW HOME was a collaborative project between Sarah White and James Watts (MA Interior Design, RCA), conceived for Art Licks Festival 2017. The exhibition responded - through installation and performance throughout the cells - to the current situation of the Old Police Station building: a listed Edwardian building currently resisting being converted into commercial housing.

The work explored the absurdity and confusion involved in ideas of home and home-making. Beginning with the artists’ personal histories and experiences - notably feelings of expectation and loss - the exhibition interrogatde domestic coping strategies and embodied practices. It incorporated the artists' research into show homes across London, and reflections on the behavioural solutions cultivated in rented accommodation, whereby the bedroom becomes a ‘cell’: a hermitage, an incarceration.

The work existed in the context of London's 'housing crisis', and also referenced Sarah's ongoing research into the body’s physical understanding of loss and grief, its relationship with site and location, experiences of claustrophobia and suffocation, and the distortion of domestic objects designed to support or comfort the body into objects of restriction and oppression. As an interior designer, James is concerned to investigate the way domestic places are constituted simultaneously by specific everyday practices and cultural histories, and what the show home represents in the process of home-making.


    Installation shot: cotton fabric bench cover, foam padding, lap trays, digital prints on paper, painted ceramic plates, lemons, figs, glass bottle.
        Installation shot: gold fabric machine-sewn clothes, wooden coat hangers, copper piping, gold loop chain.

As houses intended for a nuclear family are adapted into shared accomodation for multiple occupants, every room that is not a kitchen becomes a bedroom, eliminating any other shared living space. The consequence is often that nearly all activities other than cooking take place in the bedroom. The kitchen is intensified as the locus of all the occupants’ interactions, verbal or otherwise. The bedroom becomes a space not only for sleeping, but for eating, working, and nearly every other activity. The effect is to transform the bedroom into a cell, a hermitage, an incarceration.

        Installation shot: machine sewn cotton printed cushion covers and inners, printed blanket, lightbox, foam.
  Over time there has been a slow, gradual and exhausting shedding of objects. Many remain: items which are solidfied in my mind in their connection to a married home which was my own. Now these objects exist in my life but have been subsumed into the collective life, use and household of shared accomodation. Two years on, there has been a kind of reconstruction of a vaguely similar lounge and kitchen space as that which I shared with my husband. The same dining room table, the same coffee table, the same duck egg throw over the sofa, the same stereo system, the same airer, the same clocks. There has been a continual rearrangement and reassignment of objects. Objects which were originally selected and purchased with the special intention of being part of a specific room, with a specific colour scheme, in a specific married couple’s home.