My Home: Adam Nankervis, artist

The home of the artist Adam Nankervis is also a gallery - and every space is crammed with artworks and objects trouvés. By Deborah Mulhearn
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The Independent Online

The Australian artist Adam Nankervis lives surrounded by art and ephemera collected from different people and places over the years. His flat doubles as MuseumMAN, a museum and art gallery with all its rooms open to the public - including the bathroom and toilet. He holds regular exhibitions for artists from around the world.

I always have an opening night party. There are usually about 60 people here though there have been up to 200. It's all a bit of a squeeze but I love it and I've never had a problem. I love the diversity of people who come here. I don't know how they know about it, but I have a completely open-door policy, and I've never had a problem. People come to appreciate the art, but they also respect it as a home.

I found the flat in Loot of all places - it was only the second place I looked at. It was advertised for rent at a fraction of a London rent in a similar property. I originally came to Liverpool for the 2004 Biennial and decided to stay. I loved the street immediately - the grand Georgian merchants' houses and the Anglican cathedral at one end.

I had the choice of the top floor or the floor below, which had gorgeous high ceilings and full-length windows, but I chose this one because of the spectacular views across the rooftops and the river Mersey, to the Welsh mountains of Snowdonia beyond. I love to sit out on the roof terrace and watch the incredible sunsets and the shifting shadows on the mountains. It's a million-dollar view.

I haven't got much furniture - the flat was semi-furnished and I brought in things such as the sewing- machine trestle table. Even so, there's not much space because of all the art and collected objects. It may not look like it, but there is order in the chaos. Every piece has an intimacy and I know the story behind it. Taken together it could be called Baroque or Rococo, really, but it's also an assemblage where some things work off others. It's magical to me, though occasionally someone reacts badly, such as the man who stayed all of 40 seconds before rushing out. Later on, he texted me to say he had a doll phobia. There are a fair few of them around the place.

I love that artists donate their work, it is such an incredibly generous thing to do. Sometimes they are very personal pieces and I'm really honoured and moved to have them here. It's all based on trust.

It all started when I was living in Berlin. I moved into an old East German flat that had belonged to an elderly man who had died, a former soldier. All his stuff was still there: photographs, books, clothes, personal items and other belongings. Instead of chucking it all out, I decided to keep it and incorporate it into displays.

So the collections now are a combination of the German man's belongings - such as the old helmet and a Brandenberg flag in pristine condition - added to my own work, gifts from people and oddments I've picked up from junk shops and auctions in Liverpool. Some of the actual museum objects I found in the street outside a natural history museum in Berlin.

Museums started as cabinets of curiosities - art and antiquities and all sorts of strange stuff collected by rich eccentrics in the 17th and 18th centuries. I guess I'm in that tradition. I've always lived in womb-like spaces. I could never live in a room built around a TV.

I'm interested in artists such as Kurt Schwitters who made art from discarded objects. He also moved around a lot and every time he settled somewhere else he created work that became part of the building he was living in.

When I invite artists here, I encourage them to make interventions. There are no boundaries. Some do, and incorporate my collections into their own work, and some prefer to use a "cleaner" space. So I clear out the front room for them.

I've had some fantastic artists here. I get enquiries from all over the world. I get a small stipendium from the A Foundation, an arts organisation here in Liverpool, which covers my rent, and also support in kind from the Arts Council.

Liverpool's a great city. People are sharp as tacks and there is so much talent and creativity. Liverpool has given me so much and I want to put something back. Some people call MuseumMAN a vanity project. Well, I guess it is, in the sense that I get to live here! I now have to start looking for somewhere bigger as I am inviting a lot of artists to Liverpool for this year's Biennial in autumn and they will need space to exhibit.

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