Visiting 67 Otitori Bay Road, West Auckland, a few weeks ago reminded me that exploring the home where a creative has produced their work can be an incredibly powerful experience. It provides a more intimate and human side than seeing artists' work on the walls of a museum or gallery.
I have visited a few historic homes: Graeme Burgess's 2005 restoration of Colin McCahon's Titirangi home has been done particularly well. It felt more personable and atmospheric. The home contained very few objects. Stories of the family's life whilst living there were discovered through opening cupboards and drawers in each room. Recordings of McCahon talking would begin to play, and photographs and letters McCahon had written were thoughtfully placed inside. These understated installations, designed by Rick Pearson, meant that the content did not distract from the home's lush surroundings. Surroundings which had inspired McCahon to start a new phase of his career, painting abstract landscapes.
Visiting McCahon's home has inspired me to seek out other artists and creatives homes and studios as it can provide a memorable experience that gives you fresh and exciting ways of thinking about an artist's work. There seems to be many wonderful opportunities available to those who are interested, from virtual tours to private visits. The Spaces magazine recently outlined ten of the best artists' homes you can visit around the world. Yesterday The New York Times Daily 360 posted a video 'Alone at Emily Dickinson's desk'. This short video provides an insight on how writers feel while sitting at Emily Dickinson's desk. I look forward to more of these intimate exposures of artists' lives becoming available!
PS. Colin McCahon: On Going Out with the Tide is well worth a visit - it's on until 30 July at Wellington's City Gallery!