By Mark Brown
National Trust hopes new works by Ryan Gander will attract visitors to infamous architect’s London home
It is not immediately obvious that the artist Ryan Gander has installed works in the house Ernö Goldfinger designed for himself in 1939, but that is inevitable – the architect hoarded a surprisingly large amount of stuff.
Gander said he was expecting stripped-back minimalism when he was invited to respond to Goldfinger’s modernist house in Hampstead, north London, which is now looked after by the National Trust.
What he found was books, nick-nacks and objects stored everywhere. As a result the 15 works installed by Gander are “not hidden, but because of the nature of the house it is a bit like hide and seek and you have to search them out”.
Goldfinger is chiefly remembered as the architect of brutalist residential tower blocks, such as Balfron Tower in Poplar, east London, and Trellick Tower in north Kensington. He is also the man supposedly so much loathed by Ian Fleming that the writer named a megalomanic baddie after him.
Gander, though, has long been a fan. “Characters who can turn their hand to everything are the people I admire.”
The artist has made works that are “riffs” on the work and designs of the architect. “If Goldfinger were alive today, what are the things he might do, he might add to the house? It is an updating of his creative thinking and his idealogy.”
So there is a chess set inspired by the nuts, bolts and ball joints of a Bedford van; an eye-test chart that uses a typeface based on Goldfinger’s handwriting; and three lamps that use items such as a kitchen-roll holder, a bicycle pump and a meat mincer. The latter all have the title, A Lamp Made by the Artist for His Wife”; they are the 18th, 20th and 29th attempts.
He explained: “My wife wanted to a buy a lamp she liked on the internet and I didn’t like it and said: ‘I could make you one quicker in the shed’. I went and got some handlebars, a mop and a bucket of concrete and made one.”
He liked it too much not to exhibit it and it was sold so he keeps on making lamps that end up not going to his wife. “I’ve made 50-plus I think.”
The National Trust hopes Gander’s works will attract more people to the property, as does the artist. “I like the idea that this might draw people to the house, might bring people in who haven’t seen it. The house obviously upstages the works totally – it’s so wonderful, so interesting – but if it brings people to the house that’s a good thing.”
Five minutes’ walk from the house at 2 Willow Road, another National Trust property is trying to attract new visitors, or previous ones who may not have been for years. At Fenton House, a 17th century merchant’s house, a collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery is being staged with photographic portraits …read more