Leah Houghton

Richard’s House

1 May 2007 - 30 November 2007

Richard’s house, a one hundred and twenty year old mill in Waikouaiti, has been cast, skinned and hung as a huge memorial to the inverse of itself. Dunedin sculptor Leah Houghton has coated the house’s façade with rubber latex, let it dry and peeled it off to capture the negative spaces of its doorways and windows as positive, bulging, tent-like forms. In peeling off the building’s skin she has also captured bits of its grime, plaster and paint, which become intriguing ornamentation for what could be described as a strung-up kind of architectural cloak.
Houghton explores the way buildings shelter us but are themselves vulnerable to the impacts of their environment and the passing of time. She is also exploring a question fundamental to her practice - how does one go about being an artist? She says the ‘question has its shadow, the spectre of “faking it”’. And so, she has created a monumental façade to remind us that some things in the art world might be little more than skin-deep.

Richard’s House is a dramatic backdrop to Laurence Aberhart’s photographs and Joanna Paul’s drawings, seen in the next galleries. Like Aberhart’s photographs Richard’s House gives us a very different, but similar view of architecture and its history. Both Aberhart and Houghton have captured the sometimes-strange beauty of decay as well as its inevitability. And Houghton, like Paul, substantiates white, or negative space and celebrates the process of living in one’s own skin.

media: Latex rubber

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