Monday, October 15, 2007

The Recycled House

Went to The Recycled House yesterday, which is down a leafy sidestreet in Sydenham, near Crystal Palace. The house is completely furnished and decorated with salvaged items and materials collected from skips, roadsides, car boot sales and markets. The aim is to illustrate the possibility of living elegantly with minimal environmental impact, as well as being an anti-consumerist statement. What this means in reality is that you arrive at a semi-detached house from the 1930s where the door is wide open and friendly looking types nod approval as you pass.

As you go up the stairs you discover the heavy flock wallpaper has been painted over in watercolours to make it feel less like the set of 'Keep The Aspidistra Flying'. On the walls are over thirty discoloured mirrors of various shapes and sizes, arranged in a manner which is strangley comforting. The front room, meanwhile, features a crimson Ottoman sofa salvaged from a Belgian car boot fair, a car bonnet on the wall, a stuffed eagle in a jar and – yes, I peeked - a copy of Kula Shaker’s second album amongst the CDs. I didn’t want to leave. The kitchen, meanwhile, had pages from a French novel as wallpaper (sourced from a junk shop in Hay On Wye), an old door as a dining table (complete with brass knocker) and walls stripped of wallpaper to show off the letters - rescued from a printers - all over the fridge.

The owners, artist Mark Hill and Kate ship, explained that recycling comes in various shapes and sizes. With the mad rush to get what’s new, people are missing out on the beauty of the past. They’re off on aroad trip to Eastern Europe in November. “We’re going in that rusty caravan outside” laughed Mark, gesturing to a charabanc straight out of 'Please Sir', the movie.

Hats off.