DENNIS SEVERS' HOUSE

Pen and Watercolour 45 x 90 cm

 

Dennis Severs’ house in Spitalfields is an art installation, home and time capsule. A dilapidated Georgian townhouse, it was bought by American artist Dennis Severs in 1979. Dennis aimed to refurbish each of the ten rooms in a historic style, mainly from the 18th and 19th centuries. He invented a family of Huguenot weavers to live here and proceeded to horde, collect and create the furniture and objects that could tell their story for the rest of his lifetime.

 

The house is not a museum but a living, breathing home, lit by candlelight and crackling fires, filled with the aromas of red wine and freshly baked pies. The whole building vibrates as the circle line hurtles beneath it and the fictional inhabitants of the dwelling can be heard muttering and clinking glasses, just out of view.

 

The house has been the subject of a number of TV documentaries and can count Madness, Divine and David Hockney amongst its admirers. It is also a popular backdrop for film, TV and photography shoots  by the likes of Vogue, Baileys and the BBC. 

 

www.dennissevershouse.co.uk

 

In order to create a 'Living Section'  I measure, draw and research the building and its inhabitants in situ. This allows me to develop a narrative to the piece and gain a deeper understanding of the atmospheric qualities of the place. 

 

The process begins by drawing each room from life and roughly surveying its contents. These drawings are later stitched together into a cohesive composition at 1/2 scale using photographs, any existing plans and the working drawings produced on site.  

 

A series of tonal drafts and character studies help develop the activity and atmosphere of each room. The final pieces are produced by hand in pen and watercolour over the course of several weeks of intensive drawing and painting back in my studio in Wiltshire.

 

 

 Contact me on ben.rea@hotmail.co.uk for further information on  commissions, prints and future exhibitions.