My Home: Sebastian Horsley

The interior of Sebastian Horsley's home is as unconventional as you'd expect from an artist who had himself crucified
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The Independent Online

The artist Sebastian Horsley, 43, lives alone in a two-room flat in a listed house in Soho. He is currently writing his autobiography, which will be published next year.

I have been in my flat in Soho for 10 years. I used to live in Shepherd Market [in Mayfair], but I moved when the area went downhill. Years ago, on a good night in Shepherd Market you'd get your throat cut; now, of course, it's full of weave-your-own-yoghurt shops. I bought the flat for £200,000, but the bank really owns it as I've had to keep re-mortgaging to pay my tailors' bills. I've just heard that I'm in negative equity, which I'm quite happy about as it goes with the rest of my personality.

The bathroom is minute. There's no bath, but I can get three people in the shower. The bathroom is off the tiny kitchen and sometimes my oven seems to flush. I don't cook - I eat out all the time. The kitchen counters are high, and could have been tailor-made for me, but weren't. The flat is pretty much as it was when I moved in - I just painted the walls red, and entombed everything in red velvet.

The bed is for little people and I have to sleep diagonally. I bought it drunk. The gun beside the bed is there for effect - everything I do is for effect - but it is real and it is loaded. I like to remind myself that every morning I'm making a choice to live. All the luggage on top of my wardrobe is also for effect - I never leave this flat.

My wardrobe is trimmed down now. I used to have about a hundred suits in my late twenties and early thirties when my stock was riding high and I was rich. But then I was introduced to crack cocaine and I squandered my money on drugs and prostitutes. I've been off drugs for 10 months. There's a romantic myth that drinking and taking drugs engenders creativity - I'm not sure who's responsible for it; me, probably - but it's not true. When I take drugs, that's all I do. The point of an artist is that he is supposed to be more aware, and the point of heroin is to make you forget that your leg's been cut off.

I wanted to make the bedroom like a turn-of-the-century French brothel and I did have a girl working here once. There's a notice on the front door saying, "This is not a brothel": never believe everything you read. I kept getting my door kicked in when clippers used to come here. A clipper is such an English device - only the English could think of it. A girl picks up a guy, takes £50 off him, rings the doorbell - my doorbell - says to the guy that there's no one in, and goes off to get a key, leaving him standing at the door. He's fifty quid down, he's really annoyed. He thinks this is the brothel, so he kicks the door in. So that's why I put the notice up.

I like living sparsely. In the main room there's no furniture - no tables, no chairs, no coffee table, not even a decaffeinated coffee table. There's nothing, apart from my throne from which to drone. I would actually be happy just to live here in one room, where I've a typewriter at one end and an easel at the other. I keep the shutters closed because I like to work in a hermetic environment. I like mirrors. When you look out of the window all you see is ugliness, but when you look in the mirror all you see is beauty. There is no central heating. The open fireplaces in the flat are just cosmetic and in winter it is bitter. I sit at my desk in a coat and my hands are blue.

On the wall are human heads. I thought collecting other people's heads was a more stylish pursuit than collecting stamps. There are 36 - my lucky number. I started collecting when I was 20 and they come from all over. Some have been murdered and have bullet holes. One had the plague. When I started buying them, they were £40 each, now they're £400.

On the mantelpiece is a little piece of wall from The Colony Room Club in Soho. The Colony Room is where all the artists go - it's my favourite place in the universe apart from my flat. Next to the piece of wall is a little coffin, which Rachel, my girlfriend, brought back from the Mexican Day of the Dead. There have been three Rachels - Rachel 1, Rachel 2 and Rachel 3. Rachel 1 is the art critic on The Times, Rachel Campbell-Johnston, Rachel 2 is a model and Rachel 3 has just been fired, so we won't talk about her.

They don't mind about each other. In fact, my autobiography is dedicated to them. It says, "This book is dedicated to the brilliant and beautiful Rachels who are a never-ending source of inspiration and delight and who wrote most of the book, including the dedication." Around the room are photos I took of the great white shark in Australia - I was in a cage in the sea. Afterwards I did a series of paintings and they all sold. Emma Parker Bowles [Camilla Parker Bowles's niece] has commissioned me to do another one, which is on the easel.

Also on the walls are pictures of people being crucified. I was crucified in the Philippines in 2000 - I framed the nails. I made the front page of the News of the World: "Art Freak Crucifies Himself". It would have been much more radical if someone like me had taken up knitting.

I'm not going to move, I'm going to stay here till I die, which hopefully will be the end of next week. I'm going to finish my book and then commit suicide. The only stylish end to an autobiography is a suicide note. Mine will be: "I've decided to stop living on account of the cost."

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