In-house artist

At painter Brad Lochore's home, even the plumbing resembles a Mondrian. <i>Jane Burton </i>on an obsessive's grand project
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The Independent Online

For most of us, buying into the housing market is a gradual progression - we start off small and then, with luck, inch up the ladder. Not for the artist Brad Lochore. Four years ago he bought what he hopes is his first and last property, a large Victorian warehouse in Shoreditch, in London's East End. With his partner, Eden Endfield, he has set about the herculean task of converting it into a home and studio: "The idea is to never have to move again," he says. "The place is huge enough to cope with just about any eventuality."

For most of us, buying into the housing market is a gradual progression - we start off small and then, with luck, inch up the ladder. Not for the artist Brad Lochore. Four years ago he bought what he hopes is his first and last property, a large Victorian warehouse in Shoreditch, in London's East End. With his partner, Eden Endfield, he has set about the herculean task of converting it into a home and studio: "The idea is to never have to move again," he says. "The place is huge enough to cope with just about any eventuality."

The building, on a quiet corner a few streets away from bustling Brick Lane, was formerly a printing works, and little more than a shell when Brad, 39, took it on. He had to fight to get planning permission changed from "light industrial use" to "live/work", and even then his bank wouldn't agree to a mortgage until he had proved he intended to live there by installing a kitchen and bathroom. "I had 28 days to do it," he says. "It was like an artists' football team. All my friends who had ever done an odd bit of decorating or plumbing came round and we spent three mad weeks doing an ultra-amateurish job."

Four years on, and though only at "stage two out of five" in the architectural masterplan, the building has been transformed. The approach is a kind of context-sensitive minimalism, in which old Victorian brickwork and blackened beams meet crisp white walls and sleek wooden floors. "You adapt a building rather than forcing something on to it," Brad says.

The interior is a haven of uncluttered space, but on an intimate scale, a series of rooms rather than a gutted expanse. At the top of the three-storey building is a long living room, with an open-plan kitchen at one end. On the floor below there are two bedrooms and a bathroom and at street level, a self-contained studio complex, with office, library, shower room and another small kitchen. The architect, Tony Fretton, who designed the Lisson Gallery, has planned an extension that will eventually be built over the studio, almost doubling the size of the house.

So far, though, the interior has been shaped according to Brad's own designs, conceived pretty much on the spot amid showers of dust and plaster, as floors were laid and walls erected around him. He even planned and fitted the plumbing system himself - he now has a set of pipes that line up as neatly as a Mondrian grid. Eden, also 39 and a painter, has played her part in the planning, but it is clearly one man's driving vision: "It's the longest painting I've ever made," he says.

Inside the airy, white-walled studio, the connection between the house and Lochore's art becomes clear. In his paintings (collected, among others, by Charles Saatchi and Paul Smith) diffuse, grey shadows fall across a smooth white ground, as if cast there by some invisible object. However literal they might appear, the paintings do not, in fact, record shadows thrown by real objects, but derive from digitally manipulated photographs which are then projected as slides on to the canvas. It is a complex game of visual seduction in which "fictional" shadows from a "virtual" world serve to highlight the artifice of image-making.

The cool, tonal palette, the odd viewpoints and the play of light and shade in the paintings are reflected everywhere around the house. In the office, the windows are sandblasted so that light falls softly, casting a grid of shadows from the many panes. Upstairs, light is filtered through a layer of white tissue-paper at the windows, instead of blinds. Shadowed windows are a recurrent motif in Brad's work, and he uses the same tissue paper to wrap his paintings for storage.

In the kitchen the plates and dishes are arranged in satisfying stacks, according to shape, size and colour, like escapees from a purist composition. The units are basic Ikea, but have been customised with a solid American oak worktop by a friend of Brad's, the joiner and sculptor Adam Kershaw. Victorian glazed white tiles run above the units: "They sort of picture the idea of it being a brick building. People thought when I bought this place that I'd be über-modern and minimal, but I really love those Victorian tiles," Brad says. The tiles reappear in the bathroom, lining every inch of the walls: "Victorian swimming pool meets nautical feel" is how he describes it, though, with a washbasin carved from a single slab of teak, the feel is rather more Japanese.

Brad's tireless scouring of London for the right materials has paid off. The floor in the living room is made from a New Zealand wood called kauri. "They haven't chopped a kauri tree down for 50 years," he says. "But it was a reclaimed floor and there was 35 metres left, which was exactly what I needed. It's gorgeous." Tubular 1920s radiators, picked up in Marylebone High Street for £10 each, were another bargain. He bought 10, and gave half to the artist Cornelia Parker, who recently moved in next door.

One of his favourite objects, a colonial-style ceiling fan hanging from the Victorian rafters, came from a photographer who was leaving his studio: "He had two fans but they were 30ft up, and he's scared of heights. So he said, if you can get up a ladder and get one down for me, you can have the other." The furniture is a mixture of high design and simple practicality. In his office Brad has an Eames desk chair; its vivid, purple seat is one of the few splashes of colour that he has allowed. A small Mexican sofa, made of leather and slatted wood, in the living room, came from a friend who was clearing out. He bought a Le Corbusier recliner for Eden when they discovered she was pregnant last year - its adjustable tilt makes it particularly comfortable for resting a bump. Baby Phoebe is now 10 months old, and colourful, unMinimalist, baby-related paraphernalia is making inroads. Brad seems unperturbed by the style assault. He is currently working on an idea for a baby-gate, specially made in beautiful American oak, to match the stairs.

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