Renowned and divisive architect Erno Goldfinger built 2 Willow Road in Hampstead as his family home, and after he and his wife passed away it’s now looked after and preserved by the National Trust. Ryan Gander is an artist who has installed works throughout the house and, as a fan of Goldfinger’s style, he’s decided to make many of his installations seamlessly blend in with the rest of the house.
On entering the building it’s easy to miss a bronze cast of Gander’s trainers at the foot of the stairs, taking off ‘his shoes’ as a mark of respect when entering a home he reveres. While in the office upstairs, faded lever arch files blend in with those from Goldfinger’s time and industrial looking lamps are scattered throughout the room.
Our favourite work is a chess board made from spare parts, a working class take on the regal strategy game that chess is supposed to be. Each work in isolation is subtle and discovering them amongst the historical artefacts makes for a cohesive tribute of an exhibition.
Ten minutes walk away is Fenton House, another National Trust building, and they have an exhibition in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery. Photographic portraits of famous Hampstead residents in the arts range from Elgar and Dame Agatha Christie through to Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. Considering that many of the famous people included were not even born in Hampstead, it showcases what a melting pot it was and is for the arts.
Fenton House itself is also replete with great artefacts including Chinese paintings, many historical musical instruments and some smaller paintings by John Constable.
Both 2 Willow Road and Fenton House are worth seeing on their own, but the addition of these two temporary exhibitions provides an added incentive to visit both venues.
Ryan Gander: The artists have the keys is on at 2 Willow Road, NW3 1TH until 2 November. Tickets are £6 for adults, concessions available. Entry is for guided tours only on the hour between 11am and 2pm, entry after 3pm allows for an unguided exploration of the building.
Hampstead’s Village People: Portraits of Cultural Icons is on at Fenton House, Hampstead Grove, NW3 6SP until 29 June. Tickets are £6.50 for adults, concessions available. A joint ticket to both venues is £9 for adults.