‘The Beautifullest Place On Earth’ is a collaboration between The Slade School of Fine Art, UCL and Red House, National Trust. Red House is the iconic home of William Morris - writer, artist, craftsman, socialist and founder of the Arts & Crafts movement.
It is the only house commissioned, created and lived in by him. Morris and his collaborators built Red House to establish 'a new way to live'. Morris and his collaborators built Red House to establish 'a new way to live'. Morris wanted to test ways of working and living collaboratively, to experiment with architecture and space, using medieval and pre-renaissance thinking as models for an alternative way of living in the present, and directing the future. He used the house to extend his making skills, and develop his understanding of the relationship between politics and aesthetics.
When it was completed in 1860, it was described by Edward Burne-Jones as 'the beautifullest place on earth'. It was built as an Arcadian idyll, and it could not be maintained - but it was an essential part of his development as an artist and as an activist. 'The Beautifullest Place On Earth’ will be enable artists and scholars to work at Red House and explore some of these ideas in the present moment. A series of short residencies held at Red House will act as an opportunity for artists and writers to reflect on some of these ideas in the space, and as a catalyst to generate new work. Visitors and staff will be invited to join discussions, workshops and exhibitions over the course of the collaboration.
Artists will make new works in and for the house and garden, in a combination of sculpture, moving image and sound works, publications and printed ephemera from July to December 2014. Kieren Reed will make a wooden sculpture in the extensive garden – drawing on Morris’ concept of the garden as a series of ‘external rooms’ . Reed’s structure will then be available to host work and activities throughout the project (and beyond) as a studio, meeting space, and hub for exchange. The project will begin with a residency by artist Melanie Jackson who will generate a ceramic and video work, and artist Benedict Drew who will make a sound work and radio/web broadcast from Red House.
The Nomadic Reading Room, a peripatetic library of artist’s publications curated by Connie Butler will be located in The Studio inside Red House, along with writings on and by Morris and the legacies explored by the project will be available for visitors, staff and artists throughout the project. Writers and scholars Esther Leslie, Mathew Beaumont and Petra Lange Berndt will publish a series of pamphlets, a form much loved and used by Morris to spread his ideas, which will be available for visitors, staff and students.
A programme of occupations, residencies, exhibitions and events will follow by artists and writers associated with the Slade School of Fine Art between July and December 2014.