My Home: Jane and Louise Wilson, British art's sister act

Jane Wilson travels the world with her sister for their video artworks, and she loves her corner of the East End for its American feel
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The Independent Online

The twins Jane and Louise Wilson, 38, were shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1999. Their video installations have been shown across the world. Jane lives in Old Street with her husband.

When we first moved to London, my sister and I lived in a tiny bedsit above a record shop in King's Cross. It was very noisy; we could never have friends round.

As soon as we could we moved east. Sometimes I feel it is a bit of a cliché to be an artist living in Old Street as there are so many other artists living in the area. Tracey Emin lives close by, Rachel Whiteread, Tim Noble and Sue Webster are all neighbours.

I love it for the ease of getting around, and that somehow it feels rather like New York. The view from our window is amazing. The buildings are huge yet, although it is industrial-looking, it feels homely. Our work has taken us around the world. We recently got back from a three-month stay in New Zealand where we were filming for our last show, The New Brutalists at the Lisson Gallery.

We lived in Berlin for two years while we were doing a residency, and we go to New York three or four times a year as we have a gallery there. As twins who work together we are always close, and my sister Louise does spend a lot of time here, although she has her own place in Goodge Street - I don't think we could live together.

We were brought up in a red-brick 1930s-style semi in Newcastle. This place is a million miles from that kind of suburban insularity. Our father was an architect and we lived in the same house throughout our childhood. I like this open-plan vibe, the exposed brickwork, and the silver pipes; it sometimes makes me think that I am actually living in New York.

Most of the furniture we have picked up from local markets and shops, but it has all been a very gradual process. When we moved in, it was shortly after my husband and I got married. He is Palestinian and we married by the Red Sea. There are some of our wedding photographs on display on a shop-type shelving system I found in a restaurant in Mayfair that was closing down. I also bought a whole lot of champagne glasses from there for a great price. I like having lots of glasses around; it is a good indication that you could have a party quite spontaneously.

The flat was of almost a shell when we first got here. I tend to think that it had the bare minimum - a kitchen and bathroom - but it did have some nice touches, like an old railway clock and a thermometer already on the wall. But it takes a while to put in your own style. I would say that my own look is very eclectic. I like things from different periods. It can be appealing to have a few designer pieces, but if everything is the same design or style it ends up feeling like you're in a colour supplement, which I couldn't stand.

Places like Los Angeles, I have noticed, seem to have a looser design aesthetic. they are more comfortable with mixing things from different periods. Whether it be putting something from a thrift shop alongside an Eames chair, it looks better as it shows more individuality. I have mixed chairs that cost about £30 with a table that was around £1,000, but I feel the overall look is unique.

Although I do a bit of administrative work here, our studio is a few miles away in London Bridge - it gets quite intense, if you are living and working in the same place. Before we found this flat we looked at a lot of places, but the thing that swung it for me here was the fact that many of the other buildings beneath are office buildings, which means that at weekends it almost feels deserted. It is very peaceful.

I wouldn't like to live right in the thick of it - here you're set back, you don't have all the pubs and clubs that you find on places like Curtain Road, near by.

We collect a lot of things from our travels and have many artworks by friends including Karen Kilimnik and Paul McCarthy, and we have some of our own work on the walls. One of the earliest pieces was made in our parents' garage. We have a series of photographs of oil rigs on the wall. I have a carpet I bought in Jordan, and also a beautiful mask from Kenya that used to belong to a Masai warrior. I have a set of learning prayers from the Koran which are placed next to a silver fan.

Our bedroom is separated from the rest of the space by red curtains and we have a sofa-bed from Muji that is great for when we have guests. We bought the Smeg fridge when we had just come back from a trip to Sweden. It's huge, but it looks so cool I couldn't live without it now.

Some of the furniture is from our parents' house in Newcastle and is 19th-century. One of the most expensive items we have in the flat is a silver and white table from the local design store, SCP. It looks elegant and inviting against the wooden floors.

I love my home for its utilitarian feel and the way everything works so well in such a small space. We have a lot of art reference, art history and architecture books. One of the few drawbacks of living here is that there is no outside space, I think that, after a while you yearn to have a bit of a garden in London, but at least there is space here for friends to pop round. And plenty of glasses.

Jane and Louise Wilson at the Haunch of Venison, Zürich, next month; www.lisson.co.uk

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