Room with a view to luring viewers


IT IS Belfast's smallest art gallery - and also its dreamiest. The Bedroom is literally a spare bedroom in a small rented terraced house which two artists have converted into a permanent exhibition space for contemporary work.

The transformation of the 10ft by 7ft sleeping chamber into a public gallery involved simply removing the bed, chest of drawers and wardrobe from the bedroom of the house at 55 Greenore Street, in Protestant working class east Belfast.

Unlike most other galleries with white walls and durable floors, The Bedroom still has its original woodchip wallpaper, carpet and curtains.

The tenants and co curators of The Bedroom are artists Michael Wilson (25) from London and his girlfriend, Ms Lee Whitehurst (24) from Stoke, England.

Their inspiration to put up works of art instead of friends in their spare room came, they say, from similar domestic art spaces in London and Glasgow.

"It's something I'd intended to do for a while but never had the space, so this house seemed ideal because I had the spare room and it had been recently redecorated," says Mr Wilson. "The only condition we make is that the room has always to return to its normal state after the show.

"As far as I see it, if you were living in a house you would be putting a few pictures up or some shelves anyway, so what we've been doing has not been destructive," adds Ms Whitehurst.

Since the gallery opened last November it has hosted one show: per month by artists invited by Mr Wilson and Ms Whitehurst to do site specific work. The Bedroom is a strictly non commercial: venture without any private or public funding. Buyers are advised to deal directly with the artists.

As neither artist is at home during the day, the shows are open to the public for one weekend only. But Mr Wilson and Ms Whitehurst are happy to admit viewers any time they are at home.

So far, the visitors have been mostly local artists and fine art students. No neighbours have yet shown any interest in visiting.

For the current show, which was opened at the weekend by Belfast based Glaswegian artist Susan Philipsz, The Bedroom's original bed - which is normally stored in the other bedroom - has been put back into the gallery, without its legs.

The window is blacked out and an image of a headboard draped with a Christmas stocking is projected onto the wall above the pillow.

Ms Philipsz, who also has work currently on show in Belfast's more conventional gallery, The Gallery, says she enjoyed the challenge of creating work for such a quirky setting.

I see it as another venue to show in and it's better than not having anything. It's quite out of the way but I really like the idea of a gallery in someone's home. That breaks the boundaries a bit," she says.