‘Dispute – The house is the man – the man is the house’
This principal piece from the Beauty Queens exhibition in Whitstable focuses on Stag Cottage. The house was severed by the building of a wall which cut straight through the interior as the result of a dispute over the lease. Internal conflict: mental struggle arising from opposing demands.
When I first heard the story of Stag Cottage and the old man who continued to live in it, despite the hardship of losing his kitchen and half of the bathroom to an internal wall, it struck me that it was as if the house itself had become the physical manifestation of the legal wrangling. The house’s interior was divided in two, the whole was split; it was like a cancerous cell; two opposing forces within the dispute and therefore within the house, pushing against each other, writhing, contorting, pressure building.
There was no sign on the outside of the house of this ‘internal struggle’, except a rather tired and dejected facade. This seemed such a human affliction that in my mind I had to make the house a man, and the man – a house. The crumbling wood and broken windows became the wrinkles and lines on his face.
We so often find ourselves torn in two different directions, have sides of ourselves in contention with one another, have desires that contradict all our actions. I have attempted to convey this duplicity and strife in the painting of the man, together with the sense of masking our conflicts with exterior walls. He also is in a rather beautiful state of disrepair, his internal conflicts have cut him in two. I find it fascinating that when we look at a building, as we do a person, we really cannot see what is happening on the inside.