In January of 2020 I stated a project to do art based on the hidden and darker spaces that lurk, unknown, close to us. It stemmed from the finding of our own empty, waiting abyss of darkness: a stairwell which had contained the servant’s stairs that had once carried another class through our home.
My mind went wild and I started thinking of hidden rooms in a different way, not in the traditional, fancy, hidden bookshelf in a mansion way, but in dirty, dark, dusty, forgotten spaces that could be any size or configuration. Literally, hidden rooms, secret passages, and dead spaces are everywhere. So, I named my project Hidden Rooms, Secret Passages, and Dead Spaces.
A few years ago, my daughter was studying for the Scrippts National Spelling Bee. The list of words just happened to be incredibly morbid. I knew to keep them and when I started this project I knew exactly what I could use for titles. This is the end of the project. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have!
The spread on fun-houses was finally finished! I enjoyed this very much and the research that went into it. The idea of a “house” built on purpose to scare you with secrets and secret places is so great. I also compared fun-houses to living in an old Victorian house (on the left) and laughed at a lot of the similarities!
MMMMmm. Back to abandonment issues. I just love this hallway with it’s falling plaster and decay.
This piece shows a house in Trinway, Ohio built in the 1850s. It’s in the Italianate style and had very heavy lintels over the doors. It made this hall look very intimidating and creepy.
I know I write a lot about family stuff on here, but I do have a side that likes darker things. Horror movies that feature countryside and farms really scare me a lot and I like them. I really like windmills and here tried to show a windmill with a sun flare going through the blades. I always felt that the country held all kinds of secrets…
Elizabeth Enright is my favorite author, but I didn’t really enjoy her adult fiction books very much. She is a much more talented writer for children, and almost an unknown despite winning many awards, including the Newberry! One adult fiction short story I did like was called “Nancy” and it was about a girl who finds a poor girl to be friends with. The girls go to the top of the tower in the poor girl’s decrepit Victorian house and jump and jump until it rocks and shakes violently. I drew this tower in homage to that story. I’ve always wanted to go in towers like these on houses.
More farm fun! I pass this real farm on the way to the mountains all the time. I want to stop and explore it, but it’s right off the highway. It is slowly falling apart.
You guys know how much I love top floors. Here is a ballroom. I really liked “Go to the Room of the Eyes” by Betty K. Erwin because it had a disused third floor ballroom in it. So very creepy!
One of my favorite movies I found by accident on Netflix is “Alice” from 1988 or “Neco Z Alenky” in Czech. The maker, surrealist director Jan Svankmajer, is from Czechoslovakia. It is a Victorian-lover’s dream and nightmare come true! It takes place in a very old, falling-down house where all of the characters from “Alice in Wonderland” come to stop-motion life as Victorian artifacts! The White Rabbit is a taxidermied specimen, the mushroom is a wood mushroom darner, the Cheshire cat is a cat skull, animals are taxidermy, Alice is a doll when she shrinks, and everywhere there is dilapidated decadence, especially in her top-floor nursery. Here’s a quick, fun YouTube video about it:
The next piece is inspired by this crazy house in Brooklyn that you can see here. The eyes give me an Amityville Horror vibe and again, are on a third floor, seeming to hold many secrets. (I’m sensing a theme here with third floors!) I had my son crush this and wrinkle it and squish it to give it a weird look.
I cheated a bit on this one, but it’s my way of saying goodbye to this project. I already had this painting but really wanted to use it. It’s a view of one of our twin dormers on our third floor and I’m so glad to have explored all the secret places I could find in my house through this project.
My last piece is a tribute to the book that started all of my love for old houses and creepy stuff back when I was 11 years old- “Gone-Away Lake.” It’s also a tribute to the author, Elizabeth Enright, and the illustrators, Beth and Jo Krush. This is young me inside the book actually getting to experience it. I hope that in heaven we will get to live inside our favorite books for a while.
All done friends! I might come back and revisit this theme from time to time and do some new work or some “best of” posts. We will see. “Secret Passages, Hidden Rooms and Dead Spaces,” is the official title of this body of work and I am pretty sure it lived up to it’s name!
‘Till next time,