Tuesday, 30 March 2010
One of the best things about this job is uncovering little spots of design loveliness. The second best thing? Telling everyone you know all about it until their ears are bleeding. A couple of Domestic Sluts trotted to the West London suburb of Chiswick to see The Treatment Rooms, one such place. Despite the name The Treatment Rooms isn't an institute of any kind but home to one Baroness von Reichardt (her real name is Carrie, but 'Baroness' is more fun), her family and a lodger.
For several years Carrie has been decorating the exterior of her house with mosaics. And we're not talking about polite and neutral tiles - these mosaics form incredibly bright murals and patterns that will eventually cover every inch of the house's exterior.
After marvelling at the time and effort that must have gone into this project, we inevitably wondered why she undertook it in the first place. "I find mosaicing meditative", Carrie told us. "I'm always rushing but cutting tiles and matching colours forces me to slow down". She also liked the idea of being in full control of her own project, with no councils or organisations censoring her ideas. A community artist by trade, this is something that Carrie is well aware of.
As the house is privately owned, Carrie didn't have to get permission from the local council before embarking on the project. And luckily none of her neighbours objected. "I was expecting a fight but nobody complained. And even if they don't like it, they can appreciate the time and effort that's gone into it". Luckily Chiswick has "a history of supporting the eccentric". Even luckier, the conservation area in Chiswick starts at the end of her street - a mere three or four houses away.
As attractive as The Treatment Rooms are, the Baroness is keen to incorporate deeper meaning into her murals - "Subversive messages woven in beautiful art", as she so eloquently puts it. One mural on the back of her house is dedicated to her friend Luis who was executed by the state of Texas:
Another - covering the top two storeys of the house - is dedicated to the Angola 3, political prisoners held in Louisiana State Prison:
When not at work in The Treatment Rooms, Carrie can be found beavering away in her studio. She's currently working with four other artists "blinging up" a huge elephant to raise awareness of their impending extinction. It looks exquisite but it's painstaking work - it's taken them two months working 12 hour days to get most of it done.
Carrie reckons it'll be another 10 years before she's completed mosaicing The Treatment Rooms. And what happens after that? "I'll probably mosaic the inside of the house too".
Find more pictures of The Treatment Rooms at sian_meades' and carriereichardt's flickr photostreams. Like the mosaic elephant? You can see more photos of him here.