Artist Maaike Schoorel: Inside the London home of the Dutch artist
Dutch artist Maaike Schoorel has turned the rooms of her Victorian terrace into a series of white cubes – all the better to showcase her friends' work
Wednesday 27 February 2008
East London seems to have carved itself a reputation as somewhere for creative minds, after people were initially drawn by the cheap studio rents.
We found this house through friends who lived nearby. People we know joke about how long we've taken to get this place in order, but I won't be bullied. We moved in at the end of September. I'm not going to rush for the sake of getting it done. Some people move into a house, order everything in, hire a designer and that's it. For me, it takes time to choose what I want to live with and work out how my surroundings should feel.
I like having different textures and prints around me, and prefer fabrics adorned with beautiful, intricate drawings rather than generic designs. My home is like an extension of my creative thought, but also a space in which I can switch off from the day's work in the studio.
It's not uncommon for artists to surround themselves with fabrics; Matisse was a great example of this. My favourites include a bed throw by the French designer Pierre Frey and a red quilt by the French brand Descant. I'll mix these with cushions from high-street stores, such as Zara. It's not about snobbery, but about the feeling you create with certain textures and images.
There's no set trend to the furniture either, it's about finding the right thing at the right time. The dining table comes from an auction house in Islington and the chairs are all fairly contemporary, but for the prize piece, a blue Arne Jacobson, given to me by a colleague.
But most of the colour in the house comes from paintings and statues, laid against a clean backdrop, white floorboards and pale walls. Lots of artists have given us their own pieces, such as Charles Avery.
A double-sided painting by Dietmar Lutz hangs above our dining table; on one side are two pigs, and the other depicts a guy looking in an aquarium. Next to this is a pencil drawing from an issue of Superman; it shows Superman lending Lois Lane his powers.
The fashion designer Julie Verhoeven made a series of strange models for a Maureen Paley exhibition and one of these pieces, which is either a nun or a judge sits on our kitchen table. There's a real mix of art in this house.
Much of my work centres on the concept of women at home. I photograph them naked in their own space and work from these images, building large figurative pieces from paint and tarpaulin, using little colour. By capturing people in their own home, I want to in some way reconnect them with their personal space.
Mario Testino commented on the way in which I address the relationship between people and their environment, when he was documenting one of my latest projects at my studio. The way I build a picture reflects my attitude to creating a home; it's a process that can't be rushed.
I grew up surrounded in a small village, Santpoort, by the sea just outside Amsterdam. There was a real sense of community and when I came to London it was incredibly hard to figure out who I was here. It's a tough city, where so many people are competing, so you can feel very alone. You realise, after a while, that there are sub-communities all over London, the art scene in the East End is a great example of that.
It's so quiet here. You're in the middle of the city, but you're not. You get the best of both worlds.
Having a front door leading straight on to the green really helped sell it to us. The most important thing for me is to be on street-level, otherwise I feel claustrophobic and ungrounded.
We do a lot of entertaining here, and people feel comfortable in this space. It's not uncommon to find friends lounging around in our bedroom. Tom reckons it's like a footprint of a certain breed of British house, which is why everyone feels so at home. The main attraction in the bedroom is a Glen Brown print. I love the historical references in this portrait, the way he plays with old-fashioned poses. Up close, it's like something by Dr Seuss.
I'm naturally a terrible hoarder, but keep most of my stuff at the studio so the house is mainly packed with books and vinyl records.
The garden looks like a catwalk, with this strange decking. Maureen Paley , who represents Gillian Wearing and Rebecca Warren, has vowed to help us build a little green haven in the summer – it will make a change from using it as a bike rack.
Dutch-born artist Maaike Schoorel, 34, shares a Georgian terraced house near Columbia Road in Bethnal Green, east London, with her partner, curator of the Cubitt Gallery and contributing editor of Frieze magazine, Tom Morton, 30. Schoorel has exhibited across the world and collectors of her work include Charles Saatchi, Mario Testino and Raf Simons. Her latest show runs at the Maureen Paley gallery, London, from 1 March to 6 April; www.maureenpaley.com
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