The Houses

Small House Gallery Ext Dims OPEN CALL header.jpg

The ‘properties’ in the Small House Gallery family:


SMALL HOUSE GALLERY ONE

Interior and exterior dimensions:

Scale of dollshouse is 1:12. There is flexible mains electric lighting fitted throughout = 3 x swivel spotlights per floor (12v)


We expanded our family of Small House Galleries over the Winter lockdown of 2019/20. Small House Two is the same as Small House Gallery One (the iconic original) but with the addition of a lower ground (basement) floor and the possibility of improvising a fifth level on the roof ‘terrace’.

We have also unexpectedly acquired a vintage handmade designer-pimped dolls house that we are calling Small House Cottage, which is actually the largest of the three houses, with two storeys, 8 bedrooms, generously proportioned stairwells and landings, two chimney-breasts, a built-in kitchen, large-print wallpaper and a patterned carpeting. There is no lighting installed yet, and there might never be lighting for this house… It would suit work that can handle a certain kind of experimental approach to its display.

And, as if that weren’t exciting enough, we have the honour and pleasure of hosting Mac’s Garage (a toy made by artist Iain MacLaren’s father, long outgrown by Iain’s now teenaged son). While it’s in our studio, we’re calling that project Small House Garage; it’s a perfect little venue for indoor/’outdoor’ sculptural works, video on handheld devices, and miniature light installations in the cavernous interiors of the garage.

(pictures of the new ‘acquisitions’ are below; complete dimensions for all three will follow, when time allows.)

Small House Gallery One still lives in the shared art studio space, along with temporary micro pop-up Small House Garage, in the loft, which is basically on the roof of an indoor ‘she-shed’ (ex darkroom). Viewing is by appointment or invitation only due to time and space constrictions.

Small House Two and Small House Cottage are on display in the family kitchen of a private residence down the road, and for the moment is only viewable online (unless you happen to be a member of the family or a close family friend).


SMALL HOUSE TWO

– with its additional lower ground floor / basement:

(Above) Left: Small House Two having just been renovated with indoor lighting and a ‘stucco’ frontage (or perhaps it’s painted ‘pebble-dashing’?) It came with a black painted roof – that paiont was impossible to remove, so we went with it. We’ve kept the rubber wood-trim unpainted.

Right: Small House Two interiors, shown in full colour, with 6″ x 6″ paintings on paper by Edori Fertig (Meditations in Blue, 2021) in the top three floors, and furnished as a lobby / reception area in the lower ground floor extension.

(Above) Left: ‘God’s Eye View’ of the Small House Two basement annex (pre-renovations); Right: Front elevation view of the lower ground floor of Small House Two (ditto) and the site office (before the ‘decorators and electricians’ arrived).


SMALL HOUSE COTTAGE

Not as small as the title would suggest:

Getting good photos of the whole Cottage can be challenging!

Being double-fronted, there’s no back to hide the electrical wires behind, so interior lighting for now, until a way of getting under the roof without damaging the house structure or original mouldings is found.

It’s extra large, with awkward inner dimensions, so it’s hard get all the rooms in shot at once, without also photographing the roof, which is highly reflective (black gloss) and picks up the glare from the ceiling lights, but also lets in more daylight from the bay window the Cottage is situated in front of, getting sun from 3 sides, making it harder to photograph the contents of the rooms with any sharpness in a whole house photo. Constantly fighting solar glare, even with the window shades drawn. Papering over the windows and bringing in a small ring light are partial solutions but what an additional faff when time is an issue and it’s kept in a not gigantic domestic kitchen that’s in daily use. (It’s too big too keep at the current studio without being very much in the way)

The conundrum will be cracked, eventually! The issue of a space for all 3 houses is not necessarily a permanent one. Hopefully artists won’t let these challenges stop them from picking up the gauntlet and wrestling creatively with this awkward but rewarding dolls house / microgallery themselves.

UPDATE: Sept 2021 – The Cottage and SH2 have swapped places temporarily(?), so SH2 is now in the kitchen’s bay window, and the Cottage is taking up quite a bit of room on the table. This may make it easier to photograph the Cottage but may mean that SH2 can only be photographed at night lest we have the same sun-glare issues with it that we struggled on with the Cottage! The Cottage occupying so much space on the kitchen table does make it harder to have dinner parties, though…

Preliminary floor plans for Small House Cottage:


SMALL HOUSE GARAGE

(Below) Small House Garage (aka Mac’s Garage) is on indefinite / temporary loan to us and is perfect for even small scale sculpture, cell phone videos and tiny light installations. We are not certain of the scale yet. (It was hand made from scratch and may not consistently conform to any standard scale. Dimensions coming soon-ish. (Remind us if you definitely want to propose for it).

Works seen in the sample photos are: Caduceus (pewter sculpture, by Victoria Rance), Voice Portrait of Seamus Heaney (spectrogram of the poet’s voice printed on acrylic cube, by Giovanna Iorio), Pincushion Snowplow (toy car turned pin cushion, by Liz Honeybone) and Miniature Museum (small found trinkets in decorated gum packaging by Edori Fertig)

Above: The Summer Open Bonus Show featuring works by Peisley, Yvonne Kendall, Octavia Milner, Caro Williams, Lucie Fitzpatrick, Penny Hallas, Lucy Winnicott, Abi Lewis, Elaine Luther, Sally Eldars, Jack Woodward, Sara Ulfsparre, Graham Everitt, and Jenny Bramley. See more >>>>>>>here<<<<<<<.


FAQs

Q. Are there any fees for submitting or exhibiting?

A. We truly wanted to keep the project completely free to artists, and we managed to do so for the first 6 months of Small House’s lockdown revival.*

But we can no longer afford to offer this opportunity for free. We just can’t. We either charge a nominal fee (asking for tips/donations didn’t work) or we shut it down. We’re trying to get to the point where we’re attractive enough to arts funding bodies, or for corporate sponsorship, or ‘something’, but we’re not there yet, partly because we refuse to commit to pigeonhole the project into existing only to serve one area of the UK, or one demographic or cause (which rules us out of Arts Council Funding). The completely free model we were operating under during the first couple of Covid lockdowns is unsustainable now; we’re just too far out of pocket for the the time, care, attention to detail, and unpaid labour, the wholly self funded purchases of parts/equipment/materials required to maintain even just the physical ‘buildings,’ not to mention the upkeep of the online stuff which is integral to the project’s survival.

So we’re charging a nominal fee for applying and a nominal amount to exhibit with us if the show is selected. We want to keep it down to a really fair and ridiculously accessible amount, but we do ask that if you can afford to give more, that you please do so generously.

FEES:
£3.00 to SUBMIT a PROPOSAL for a show.**
£15.00 (minimum) if SELECTED. (This second ask does not apply to the Summer Open)
(To pay, copy and paste this PayPal.me address into a search window >>>>> PayPal.me/smallhousegallery <<<<< )

Keeping the fee super low means that any selected artists that are truly struggling won’t be excluded from showing with us.
IF YOU CAN AFFORD TO PAY MORE, PLEASE DO. Any additional money can then go towards helping another artist exhibit with us. It also helps keep the project afloat for longer, operate more smoothly and less precariously, and potentially saves us from the need to resort to begging for donations or tips. We’re leaving it to you to decide what amount ‘more’ comes to.

We’re not trying to profit from artists. We’re trying to survive, same as many of you, while offering this service as a passion project. We want to keep art in everyday life, ours and yours, and connect with other artists around the world, promoting their work to new audiences, exposing them to new opportunities. We need to pay the studio rent, wordpress fees, electricity meters, and any and all expenses that arise for the project along the way. We’ll have to trust people not to take advantage of our good intentions for this low-fee ‘honour system’ structure. (We’ll shut it down if it starts to feel like we’re being exploited or we’re turning into resentful martyrs, though – we were on the verge a couple of times truth be told. Though championing art is super important, it isn’t worth it if it’s at the expense of our wellbeing and self respect. So please be cool and on board with the social contract here if you are going to submit and/or are offered a show.)

*(The project started in 2016, but it was more of a personal project in the early days – open only to artist friends. And then there was a hiatus of a few years before a relaunch during Covid.)

**(Additional donations or tips are always appreciated and definitely help towards the project’s overall upkeep. We still haven’t come near to ‘breaking even’ in terms of personal financial investment which is why we are otherwise unable to be able to afford to continue.)

Q. Do you take commission on artwork sales?

A. If you are lucky enough to sell any of the works through or as a result of your Small House Gallery exhibition, we would appreciate a commission of 20% for that/those sale/s. If a sale comes through to you and the buyer mentions having seen it on our website or social media platforms, we would be really chuffed if you would honour that arrangement, but we cannot and would not want to enforce such a thing. It’s really just a nominal courtesy, and would help towards admin and running costs. If you would like to offer a higher commission in line with what ‘real’ galleries take (35-75%), we wouldn’t say no, but that’s only if you’re feeling super flush and want to be mega-generous! In our experience 20% feels fair all round, and we’re operating on an ‘honour-system’ rather than demanding a contractual obligation. That may evolve and change in future, but for now, it’s pretty loose and easy.

Q. Is there a deadline for submissions?

A. At the moment there is no deadline for submitting.

We are unable to take submissions for solo shows at the is time.

We were actually going to close the project down in January 2022 due to lack of funding and overwork, but instead decided to cut the shows down to one per month (instead of three). July 2021 was the last month of showing 3 artists per month across all 3 houses. But working at that pace for no pay made burnout inevitable. So now, all the artists who were scheduled to show chock-a-block between September 2021 (after the Summer Open) until January 2022, are now spread out to one artist per month, from September 2021 to September 2022. Let’s see how we get on with that.

Q. Where is Small House Gallery based?

A. Mainly, it’s based in the online sphere. But for purposes of sending your work and viewing it, currently it’s in a (lockable) she-shed (ex-darkroom) within a shared art studio in South London (UK), off the tube line but well-served by loads of buses and a near to handful of overland train stations. It occasionally will travel to other exhibition spaces at the invitation of curators for group shows and open house events. You will be informed in advance if the Small House will be exhibited in another 3D space during your show’s proposed timeline, or if an opportunity to show in another gallery arises while your work is being shown; it will not be moved to another location without your knowledge and explicit consent.

Q. I am an artist based abroad. I am interested in sending a proposal for the Small House Gallery. Do you accept proposals if the work is shipped? Or must the artist be present and install the work?

A. Yes, absolutely, if you can make sure all shipping and customs costs (including insurance) are covered. And if you have definite installing needs and send clear instructions with your initial proposal and even more explicit instructions with the shipped work, then you shouldn’t need to be present.

Not currently taking submissions for solo shows due to lack of funding to continue beyond this year (2021).

Q. I want to show video(s) in the Small House. Do you have projectors, tablets or phones I could use for my exhibition?

A. Unfortunately, at this time, we do not. Artists need to supply their own equipment for showing video*, and to ensure that they are in good working order for the initial shoot, at the very least. Since the show lives predominantly online, this may be enough time to secure your show in viewers’ imaginations, and on the website for posterity, even if the physical ‘real life’ show can’t be sustained for longer than that due to lack of handheld screens or whatever. You can perhaps source devices from sites like Gumtree, or a local neighbourhood network (ie. the Next Door App), or borrow from friends and relatives, or even try to secure a loan or sponsorship from one of the makers or suppliers of the devices themselves. If it’s just for a limited time period, it’s not unheard of. There may also be the possibility of finding a/v equipment in an online swap shop forum, lending library or hiring club — these definitely do exist out there for borrowing/hiring/renting art-making tools and film-making equipment. You’d have to meet certain criteria – invigilation, security, insurance – but it’s doable. (For example, if you’re in Wales, you could try artsconnection.org.uk. For London there’s fatllama.com/.)

*(We can only accept digital equipment if you are sending it by domestic post from within the UK now, due to being caught out by extortionate customs charges in the past. Sorry.)

Q: Do I have to post my work to you? Can’t I just send digital files for you to upload them to the website?

A. You can only send digital files as supporting documentation for your application and for us to use as promotional material for your show, but the physical works need to get here to be installed in the house(s).

Even if the work is digital in nature, decide how it’s to be shown – prints? video? other? then send the physical works, and if necessary, the means to show them as you wish them to be viewed. You can also send your small screen devices such as old mobile/cell phones, or mini projectors, or whatever it is to show digital works with (but not if sending from overseas – see above question).

Any devices or equipment need to fit in the Small House spaces or be physically attached to the house somehow without damaging the structure.

We cannot provide small-screen devices or mini-projectors to show your work for you.** Maybe at some point in the future, if we are able to get sponsorship or a grant this will change and we’ll be able to purchase something along those lines(?) but for now, it’s a ‘nope’. If anything changes in that regards, we will announce it here.

**(We have done this once, but only because we were lent a projector for a certain period by an artist who had just showed with us, and we were able to offer an overseas artist a show of projected works when his physical show fell through due to extenuating circumstances, and the timings of the two exhibitions happened to coincide.)

Q. Can I send digital files to you for you to print out, do I need to print them myself and post hardcopies to you?

A. As we are not a funded gallery, we can’t afford to pay to print out copies of the works from files you send us. If you send us money to cover it (plus fees for time and labour involved in finding printers for you and organising deliveries) then perhaps we can help out, but it’s definitely preferable that you do all that admin and legwork and just post the finished product to the gallery.

Q. I can’t afford the submission fees, or the printing of my work, or the postage/insurance/customs taxes to get my work to you. Can I still apply?

A. Right now we are are not accepting proposals for solo shows, but if this changes in future:

If there is a financial need barring you from participating, get in touch, and if we have enough support from other artists’ contributions to cover costs for you, we will do our best to help. Unfortunately at the moment we have no funding and there aren’t enough artist contributions to cover running costs, but this might change.

If you have any questions, concerns or requests, you can get in touch >>>>here<<<<.

Q. Will there be a preview and closing party for my Small House Gallery exhibition?

A. Not at this time, sorry. If this changes, you will be informed and announcements made.

Q. How long will the Small House Project be going on for?

A. For as long as it lasts. Several months, maybe a few years, we’ll see! It depends on how long we can sustain it as a self funded venture, or whether we are able to secure financial support through collaborative sponsorship or a grant of some kind.

UPDATE: Until January 2022 (unless we are able to get funding). Check back in October/November 2021 to see if we are accepting applications for shows in the New Year (2022)

UPDATE 2: We will now be able to show one artist per month from September 2021 until September 2022. But the calendar is already fully booked. If someone drops out, we may publish a call out (if we don’t already have someone in mind for that spot).

Q. I want to propose an intervention that could destroy the surfaces or integral structure of the Small House Gallery. Would that be accepted?

A. Destruction of the Small House Gallery would be a very undesirable and upsetting outcome, and is therefore is highly discouraged. All damages would need to be paid for and made good again by you, and could result in your having to foot the bill for it being expertly remade to a high enough standard from scratch (then repainted and re-wired properly) which would not be cheap. Replacing the house alone costs between £600 and £1500 (depending on if it’s Small House Gallery One or Small House Two, and that’s not counting the electrics and decor, materials and labour.
Some interventions, however, might be open for consideration as long as they do not risk or cause permanent damage to the surfaces or structure of the Small House Gallery, or if they do risk, imply or intend permanent damage or destruction, contractual assurances would need to be agreed with regards to costs of making good again, or replacing and re-fitting/decorating to a high standard the gallery so that it is restored to exactly the state it was in before the application was submitted and agreed. The cost of which would be determined as and when such a proposal is submitted and accepted by Small House Gallery, and if the terms are agreeable to you, we’ve got ourselves a show.
(Looking at you, Rachel Whiteread, Richard Wilson, Cornelia Parker.)

UPDATE – since we are not taking proposals at the moment, it’s best to strike all the above waffle out… But someday, maybe Rachel Whiteread or Cornelia Parker will want to do something extraordinarily small with us. You never know…

Further questions? Get in touch.

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Protection, Eldi Dundee, SHG wrapped in yoga mats and recycled bakers twine, Guest Projects, with AltMFA, May 2017.