Brave couple to let artists take over their Crouch End home

Ahmed Farooqui with Jeanette Abi Khalil, Stephanie Conway and Liz Brown. Photo: Polly Hancock

Ahmed Farooqui with Jeanette Abi Khalil, Stephanie Conway and Liz Brown. Photo: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Seven artists are taking over the house, painting the ceiling, flying paper aeroplanes out the window, and even creating a room within a room

Ahmed Farooqui, an artist, and his partner, Alan Swann, a medical officer, invited artists into their spacious Ashley Road house, which they have owned for 20 years.

They will be welcoming the community to see the results as part of the Crouch End Festival in June.

“It’s a big risk, it’s not just me who’s involved, it’s my partner as well,” Mr Farooqui said.

“So there has to be a huge element of trust between us, as well as the artists, and the community as well - there’s no guarantee things won’t go pear-shaped!”


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Mr Farooqui, 59, says although artists have taken over “edgier” spaces, such as warehouses in Hackney, this is perhaps the first time they will unleash their creativity on a Victorian home.

Uniquely, the artists will also seek inspiration from observing the lives and habits of the homeowners.

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Artists Roan Allen, Liz Brown, Esperanza Gomez Carrera, Stephanie Conway, Livia Garcia, Jeannette Abi Khalil, as well as Mr Farooqui, with technical help from Mr Swann, will take part.

Mr Farooqui said he expects the art to be “intrusive” - but the artists will not permanently damage the house.

Artist Roan Allen interviewed the couple, asking them personal questions about their domestic routine.

The result will be an audio installation allowing visitors to eavesdrop on recordings within the room.

The house, built in the 1870s, used to belong to the Church, which will inspire Stephanie Conway’s work.

Jeanette Abi Khalil will be setting up a fine dining table - complete with take-away leaflets.

When Mr Farooqui and Mr Swan re-decorated the house, they discovered photographs of the previous occupants.

Artist Livia Garcia will be making a giant poster outside the home exploring their lives.

Mr Farooqui and Mr Swan want to create a “convivial” atmosphere, offering tea and cake to visitors.

“Contemporary art [in galleries] might only speaks to artists and people who know about art - it doesn’t speak to the general public. We want to bring contemporary artists into the community,” Mr Farooqui said.

- The Secret Life of no.36 will be taking place weekends June 11, 12, 18 and 19. See: space36.org.uk

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