Grass House

Ackroyd & Harvey  

Presented by Hull Time Based Arts at 1 Westbourne Avenue, Hull, Humberside
Funded by the Arts Council of England. Sponsored by Yorkshire Water, GNK Limited and Johnsons Seeds
Sound composed by Graeme Miller

Ackroyd and Harvey's first collaborative work in England was developed and created over the month of July. The exterior of a derelict house became the focus of their attention, and the idea of 'bringing the house back to life' with a living skin of grass presented them with the challenge of growing the front façade of the Victorian property in the 'avenues' area of Hull.

"We found the house in the spring of 1991. Derelict and neglected, the house hadn't been lived in for over fifteen years. Inside the walls were in a dangerous state of collapse. Our notebook contains thoughts and drawings about the project before we began work. We wrote of the grass skin being like a catalyst, which drew, almost like osmosis, the memory of the house to the surface. We wrote of the house being possessed, perhaps an obvious response to the strange ambience abandoned houses give off. Number 1, Westbourne Avenue hadn't been our first choice of site. We had our hearts set on a large house on Princes Avenue, number 129. We were denied use of this house by the estate agents that were handling it. On a return visit to Hull, we turned the corner off Princes Avenue and saw the house we were eventually to work with. As number 1 grew its grass skin in July 1991, the house on Princes Avenue was raised to the ground. We were told that both houses had belonged to Pixie Berkowitz, in fact she had spent the remaining years of her life living at 129 whilst having lived her early life at 1 Westbourne Avenue. In the two ground floor rooms we presented two installations; a figure of massed grass roots suspended over a circle of barley, the ceiling above gaping open; in the other, broken pieces of mirror collected from other rooms laid in a circle reflecting a circle of grass on the wall."

Extract from Out of Time published by Hull Time Based Arts

"On the last night of the exhibition screens over the upstairs windows held, briefly, projections of transparencies of the interior and of parts of the house that it was impossible to access, and images of the paintings of Pixie Berkowitz brought to light by her nephew."
Ackroyd and Harvey
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