This strange and unique sculpture by artist Rachel Whiteread was the talk of the town back in 1993, when it stood on Grove Road in London’s East End. The sculpture, entitled simply House, was made by taking the Victorian building which originally stood as number 193 Grove Road, filling it with liquid concrete and then stripping away the four walls and roof. The result is an unnerving inversion of the original building, with doorways, staircases and fireplaces all marked out on the solid material.
The sculpture acted as a monument to those who lived within the building, with the empty spaces of the rooms forever cast in solid stone. Appearing as a photographic negative, Whiteread created House to be deliberately disorientating while also linking the viewer to a familiar sense of history. Twentieth century living habits are caught in the tiny details of inverted plug sockets, wood grains and window frames. House was an eye-catching look at the spaces which we all take for granted.
On its unveiling, the installation garnered mixed reactions from local residents, reporters and fellow artists. On November 23rd 1993, two very separate decisions were made simultaneously – Whiteread was selected as the winner of the Turner Art Prize and a group of Bow Neighbourhood councillors voted that House be demolished immediately. This eventually came to pass in January 1994.
(Image: Google Street View)
During its time, Whiteread’s sculpture attracted much attention. Because there was no set message to be found within the work, perhaps the sculpture drew even fiercer arguments from those who had projected their own messages onto it. In any case, House was an extraordinary sculpture which has not been imitated since. Today, the site of 193 Grove Road near Mile End appears to be marked by two innocuous wooden benches (above).