September 24, 2016

Philip Mussprat, Can House

view from the street (may 2016)

Facing the North Sea, Hartlepool is an industrial and harbour town of some 92.000 inhabitants  in the far north west of England, known from its now gone, once very numerous shipbuilding companies.

In terms of outsider art environments the town can boast a very special site: a house with exterior walls decorated with thousands of beer cans, as well as separate beer can structures in the back yard.

To my knowledge, such a site is a unique kind of art environment, not alone in the United Kingdom, but also throughout Western Europe.

Philip Mussprat (2011)
this picture and the next four are screenprints from the 
Can House movie/trailer (see documentation)
published here in agreement with Maxy Neil Bianco

Life and works

This Can House was created by Philip Mussprat (1952-2015). A married man with four children, he worked as a bus driver, but had to prematurely retire because of a disability.

As it occurs in retirement, he had need "to do something" and in 2005 he began decorating a wall in his backyard with empty beer cans. It became a construction some 10 m (33 ft) long and 1,5 m (5 ft) high.

Apparently enthused by this activity, Mussprat decided to continue, partly because he thought that in this way he could raise money for the restoration of a local church.

decorations at the frontside (2011)

So he began decorating front and side wall of the house with beer cans, gluing these together and to the wall with waterproof adhesive and arranging them in geometrical patterns.

And then Mussprat also made stand alone creations, such as a barbecue installation and the pyramidal structure pictured below which is a fountain that actually sprays a jet of water.

fountain in the backyard (2011)

Some ten years after he started, Mussprat had processed 75.000 beer cans. Family and friends helped to gather these. As Mussprat said in an interview: We've all done our fair share of drinking to get the cans, but people come and donate their empties once they hear what I'm doing.

detail (2011)

Can House, the movie

Filmmaker Maxy Neil Bianco, who lives in Hartlepool, valued the Can House and its creator as a good subject for a documentary film, a topic he not just viewed in terms of contemporary folk art, but also as an act of defiance, a two fingers up to the hand of fate, to a world slowly degenerating and disappearing.
Mussprat and his family and friends were gladly willing to participate in the film and in 2011 its footage was shot.

It became a great documentary. Against the background of the transience of the old port town it gives a picture of people at the edge of society who in their own way create a thing of beauty which somehow gives sense to their lives. Indeed, that's what art environments might be about.

Actual situation

Maxy Neil Bianco's movie may also be of historical significance because it documents an art environment which for some time already is at risk with decomposition because of plans of the authorities to renovate the district where it is located.

The neighbouring house, at the corner of the street, still extant in 2014, already has been demolished.

Phillip Mussprat will not experience any disappearnce of his creation. He died september 20, 2015 at age 63.

* Article on Mail Online, nov 2015
* Article Meet our very own Can Gogh on Hartlepool Mail, nov 2010
* Trailer of the Can House movie below (3'25", Youtube, uploaded november 2011)

* Maxy Neil Bianco, Can House, film first screened 2012, 51'56". available on Vimeo

Can House from Maxy Neil Bianco on Vimeo.

Philip Mussprat
Can House
Corner Raby Road/Raby Gardens
Hartlepool, North East England, UK
still extant in 2016, can be seen from the street

September 11, 2016

Kate Bradbury, Sculptures in the interior

 pictures (except the next one) courtesy of 

The pictures in this post show sculptures as displayed in the flat of the artist who created them....kind of an indoor outsider art environment......

Life and works

Around 2000 Kate Bradbury, who worked in a sandwich shop, lived in a rented room in the basement of a house in the north of London. When she found Chinese paper, ink and all kind of objects and materials left by other tenants, as a self-taught artist she began making both black and white drawings on paper and sculptures/assemblages. 

She developed a passion to collect street junk and all kinds of found objects, and when she  moved to a conventional flat in London, she continued transforming these materials into sculptures and assemblages. Other than her drawings on paper, which mainly exhibit a dense pattern of black ink,
these sculptures and assemblages in general have a rather colorful look

Her artworks were exposed in some small London galleries and probably at the 2005 Raw Art Festival in London she met Sue Kreitzman, who at that exposition for the first time showed her artwork

In the context of that festival Sue Kreitzman, along with several other female artists, got the idea to organize an exposition of works by female outsider artists. The idea was elaborated and so the exposition Wild Old Women (London, november 2008/january 2009) came about. 

The exposition's website marked the participating artists as: We are loud, we are raucous and we are thrillingly, vividly visible. We are Outsider Artists so we do things exactly as we please.

Kate Bradbury was one of the participating artists and the website of the Wild Old Women exposition to my knowledge is the earliest internet publication that refers to her and her artwork.

In subsequent years more internet publications would appear. In april 2012 Kate Bradbury was artist of the month at Outside Ina national project founded in 2006, to provide a platform for artists in the U.K. who define themselves as facing barriers to the art world for reasons including health, disability, social circumstance or isolation.

In 2012 Kate Bradbury was also one of the six winners in a triennial competition for these artists, pursuant to which in 2013 she got a personal exhibition in the Pallant House Gallery, entitled Squalls and Murmurations  (november 5 - december 1)The title refers to two recurring elements in her work: loudness (of storms) and quietness (of murmuring).

In the course of the years Kate Bradbury's apartment has become increasingly occupied by a large variety of many almost life-size sculptures which are arranged in groups, such as the Gleaners, the Angels, the Dervishes and the Goat Men.

A very specific part of Kate's collection of sculptures consists of the suitcase people, which top up the house in large numbers.  These creations are made of old suitcases found at junk shops, which are filled with other objets trouvés that indicate the character depicted in the sculpture, such as a painter may have a suitcase filled with paintbrushes and Railway Jim has a railroad track with a small train.  

Apart from the head which is made from paper maché, all other parts of the sculpture such as clothes, hats and other attributes consist of objects collected on the street or at junkyards.  

Kate Bradbury's sculptures as displayed in her flat constitute kind of an indoor outsider art environment. This obviously is a private affair, which can't be visited by the public.

* Jennifer Gilbert, Artist's Interiors: Kate Bradbuy, article on weblog OutsideinPallant, february 15, 2016
* Press release about the 2013 exposition Squalls and Murmurations
* Article (november 2013) by Kate Davey on weblog KDOutsiderart
* Website announcing the 2009 Wild Old Women exposition

Kate Bradbury
London, United Kingdom
the home is private, no public visits

August 26, 2016

Nicholas Golovan, Single handedly built and decorated house

front side of the house, facing the river 

Single-handedly constructed and decorated with sculptures by its owner since around 1980, above pictured house in Lutsk, Ukraine, is a very special art environment/singular architecture. 

Life and works

Nicholas Golovan, the builder of the house and creator of the sculptures, was born in 1943 in Teremne, Ukraine.  His parents -a carpenter and a seamstress- in 1946 moved to Lutsk, a city in northwest Ukraine, where Golovan currently still lives. 

At a young age Golovan already showed artistic qualities and his parents stimulated him to go to an art academy. His mother hasn't experienced it, because she died in 1958, but indeed, young Golovan in 1960 was admitted to the art academy in Lviv. 

He studied there untill 1965 and then returned to Lutsk, where he built a studio in the yard of his father's house. He married in 1971 and in the same year he had his first exposition.

Golovan became active as a sculptor especially in the Volyn region where Lutsk is located, creating sculptures and monuments, usually intended for the public space.

When he was looking for a place to build a house that would serve as family home and studio, in the late 1970's the authorities allocated him a piece of land in a part of the old town bordering the river Styr. 

Golovan got constructional and architectural assistance from the architect Rostislav G. Metelnytskyy, but he did the construction works himself, brick by brick. 

This resulted in a rather special architecture: a three-story house with balconies and balustrades, a large round staircase to the entrance and a large walled garden in front and on the backside.

the side of the house along Luteranska street (2015) 
with a group of sculptures at the bottom of the wall and staircase to entrance 

Golovan decorated the house with a variety of sculptures, arranging a series on the balustrade on the upper front side and another one on the bottom of the wall along Luteranska street, but then there are also hundreds of both small and large sculptures scattered over the property. The yards around the house contain large quantities of boulders awaiting to be processed, as well as other materials.

The interior of the house has also been abundantly decorated with sculptures and high reliefs.

a scene of the interior

The pictures in this post just give a limited idea of the multitude of decorative sculptures in various styles included in, on and around this house. However, the internet has a number of websites with series of pictures of this house and Youtube has various videos (see documentation).

In terms of constructing Golovan is a non-professional, but his sculptures show he has mastered sculpting completely. In any case an entry of this site in this weblog, an inventory of european (outsider) art environments, is quite rightly, just as a local tourist guide ranks the site amongst the town's major worth seeing buildings, such as its castle, tower and churches.

The inhabitants of Lutsk in general respect Golovan and his art environment. The city in 2016 has decided to  appoint him as honorary citizen of the city. The award ceremony took place on August 20, 2016. 


* Youtube has a lot more videos about Golovan, look here

Nicholas Golovan
Golovan's House
Luteranska Street 9
Lutsk, Volyn region, Ukraine
can be seen from the street

August 13, 2016

Stanislav Sartsevich, Sculpture garden

black and white pictures courtesy of Volodmyr Marchuk 
(Volart Art Gallery, Lutsk)

The sculpture garden in above picture was extant in the 1970's and 80's in Lutsk, a city with a history of over 900 years, located in northwestern Ukraine, along the river Styr. 

Life and works

About Stanislav Sartsevich (1904-1987), who created this sculpture garden, only just a few biographical details are available. He had a job as a teacher, was head of a post office and the longest time he was an accountant at the department of social security.

Maybe during his working life he already made folk art paintings, in any case once retired, probably around the late 1960's, he became active as a self-taught artist, mainly by passionately creating sculptures and to a lesser extent also by making paintings.

Sartsevich posing in front of the site (1980's)

Sartsevich displayed his extensive production of sculptures in the front garden of his house which was located along a street in the old part of the town near Lubart's Castle, one of the oldest medieval fortifications in Europe.

His neighbours resented this use of the garden because in their view the grounds should be used to grow vegetables. They approached the local authorities who tried to restrain Sartsevich, but he diligently continued the development of his sculpture garden.

It became an extensive site with a variety of closely spaced sculptures made from cement and painted in appropriate colors. Ultimately the collection comprised mostly sculptures of people and animals.

His life-sized sculptures of people are rather naturalistic and those depictng well dressed fashionable ladies wearing a hat, especially got some reputation.

this picture in color: screenshot of some ladies 
from the 10'38" video (see documentation)

But he also made a large number of sculptures of people from Lutsk, family members, friends, swimmers, partisans, military people, a winged angel ....

The pictures in this post just give a limited insight in the large number of personalities that populated the garden.

In general he modeled his sculptures without using an image of his subject, although when creating a madonna he used an image of the madonna in the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

Sartsevich's sculptures of animals depict lions, deer, giraffes, elephants, all kinds of birds, in short the animals one sees in a zoo, all mostly executed in a realistic way.

Appreciaton and indifference

Sartsevich has received appreciation for his creative activiteites. For example: in 1979 he was invited to take part in an exposition of folk art in Lutsk. 

He also got positive nationwide publicity when in 1982 art historian Oleksandr Naiden wrote a benevolent article about him, entitled Portrait of the artist at old age, in the Russian magazine Decorative art of the USSR nr 5.

However, after Sartsevic in 1987 had passed away, both the family and leading artistic circles in Lutsk did not attempt to maintain the garden. His art environment was demolished, as well as the house, which was replaced by a modern two-storey building

All that remains are the old photos and videos.

* Website of Volodmyr Marchuk's Art Galery in Luts'k
* The video (13'53") entitled Борис Амаров в Луцьку (Boris Amarov in Lutsk) shot in1980, uploaded to Youtube dec. 2012 has scenes of the sculpture garden, Sartsevich and visitors from 3'37"-8'55"

* The next video (10'38", Youtube, uploaded march 2014) has a compilation of some old videos of the sculpture garden and a slideshow of the various sculptures

Stanislav Sartsevich
Sculpture garden
(formerly) Plytnytsy Street 1
Luts'k, Volny Oblast, Ukraine
house and garden have been demolished
and replaced by a modern building

July 30, 2016

Jan Janssen, Zjwaamvallei/Valley of the river Swalm

Swalmen is a small community of some 9000 inhabitants in the province of Limburg, the Netherlands. It takes its name from the small river Swalm, which meanders from Germany to the river Meuse in Limburg. The community from old has its own dialect called Zjwaams (Swalms).

Zjwaamvallei is the name of an art environment in Swalmen, consisting of a large number of miniature structures.

Life and works

The creator of this art environment, Jan Janssen, was born in 1934 as son of a farmer living not far from Swalmen. After primary school he worked for sixteen years at an iron foundry and then became a construction worker.

When he married, the couple went to live on the western outskirts of Swalmen, then a wooded, verdant area, currently a part of the community adjacent to the newly constructed A73 motorway.

In 1967 Janssen began making miniature constructions he located in the rather large garden around his house, an activity he continued throughout his life.

Initially he made constructions of chipboard, but later he built with very small bricks he formed himself from clay and baked in a stone oven. The first video in the documentation shows his workshop with a stock of these small bricks.

In creating the structures, Janssen also used a variety of discarded objects, such as parts of carpet (applied as roofing), hubcaps, flower pots, rings of curtain rails, but also material collected in the area, such as cobblestones from the river Meuse.

The miniature buildings, which vary in height between 0,5 and 3,5 meters (1.6 - 11.4 ft), are not replicas of existing buildings but products of Janssen's fantasy. They exhibit different architectural styles, some have a modern look, but most structures exhibit a Limburgian or German architectural influence.

Placed together without a particular template, the over fifty miniature buildings include castles, mills, gates, bridges, stairs, and so on.

Janssen, currently (2016) in his early eighties, no longer makes new creations. His son assists him in maintaining the site. 

* Eric Denig, Fantastisch Erfgoed (Fantastic Heritage), Stichting de DonderbergGroep (Dutch foundation about follies), 2005, pp 52-53
* A recent series of pictures (2016) by Jan Dijstelbloem on Google+

* Video by Wim Heinen (19'20", Youtube, uploaded november 2015)

Jan Janssen
Swalmen, Limburg, Netherlands
can partly be seen from the street

July 24, 2016

Alexander Markelovich Ladogina, церковь/church

Above pictured singular architecture is located in Mulyanka, a small community near the city of Perm in the Russian Federation.

Life and works

Alexander Marelovich Ladogina (b 1951) in 2001 at age 50 began the construction of a building that might serve as a church for the community. He was a functionary at the Russian department of agriculture and it is unlikely that he had a professional architectural background.

The construction, which resembles a large barn, stands out as an art environment because of the specific decorations added to its roof. These spherical aluminum domes are composed of kind of lampshades wich were used in agriculture in order to protect seedlings and promote their growth.

These domes are easy to associate with the onion-shaped domes featuring Russian Orthodox churches and cathedrals, and the crosses on top of the domes mark the religious character of the building.

 picture from Berlogos website 

The church is located in a marshy area and although it was consecrated by a local priest and may have been used as a church indeed, currently it is more like a storage. As far as I understand nowadays a new church, built on a more elevated location, is available.

Ladogina is meanwhile in his sixties and retired.

In 2013 he was interviewed by telephone by the journalist Ivan Kozlov, who published his report on the russian website Snob. And recently (may 2016) this art environment got some publicity in an article by art historian Alexandra Kushnarev on the russian website Berlogos, which reports on worldwide developments in modern architecture and design.

Ivan Kozlov, "Алюминиевый храм на краю болота" (Aluminum temple on the edge of the swamp), on: website Snob, november 14 2013

Alexander Markelovich Ladogina
Self-built church
Mulyanka, Perm Krai, Russian Federation
extant, but specific location unknown

July 13, 2016

Bogdan Ziętek, Interior with sculptures

this picture and the next two 
courtesy of  Andrzej Kwasiborski

Most self-taught artists who create an art environment made up of life-sized sculptures, will put these creations in their garden. But not so the artist presented in this post, whose creations stay indoors and appear to be part of the household.

Life and works 

Bogdan Ziętek (b. 1932) was born in Tlukienka, a small village in the south of Poland, near Krakow. After World War II the family moved to the more westerly area of Lower Silezia. They settled in the community of Brzeźnica, where Ziętek currently still lives.

As a young boy Ziętek only attended primary school. His parents couldn't afford further study and he had various jobs such as decorator and illustrator. The longest, some sixteen years, he worked at a mining company in Grochowski. He retired in 1991 at age 59.

A man of various artistic talents, Ziętek was not only a self-taught sculptor, he also liked making music, writing poetic, mystic and philosophic texts, working as a photographer on weddings and other festivities and designing and sewing women's clothing.....

Already as a young man his artistic disposition went along with a sensitivity to beauty, which in his case involved in particular the appeal of beautiful women.

He made his first sculpture in 1960, a depiction of a woman he named Eva. It took him several months to complete the creation. In the ensuing years Ziętek would make many more sculptures, mainly of women.

Ziętek has a specific emotional relationship with his wooden women, which he serves well in terms of clothing, make up and hairstyle. In an interview (2005) he said: Piękne kobiety są jak rwący potok - zaszumią, rozkochują i odchodzą (Beautiful women are like a rushing stream - they rustle, surprise and go).

Partly due to the positive interest from museums and the press, his wife Agnes became accustomed to her husband's passion and accepts it. The wooden ladies are kind of members of the family and part of the household indeed.

Currently (2016) Ziętek has sculpted some fourteen large sized women (around 1.80 m, 5.9 ft high) and over 170 smaller ones (30-40 cm, 0.98-1.3 ft high). Only a few of his sculptures depict a man.

The sculptures are made of wood, usually a suitable part of a lime tree, which he roughly shapes with a chainsaw, details with chisel and knife, processes by prolonged sanding and finishes by painting it in natural, realistic colors. The sculpted women are dressed with self-designed and self-made garments.

Besides sculptures Ziętek also makes paintings and drawings


Ziętek's work has been featured in various solo and group exhibitions in Poland, such as the the Mazovian Museum in Plock and the Ethnographic Museum in Wroclaw (summer 2015)

Recently (january, february 2016) a selection of his creations was exposed in the Pomeranian Gallery of Folk and Amateur Art KPCK in Bydgoszcz. A short video (see documentation) gives an impression of this presentation.

* Article Wiejski Harem by Katarzyna Hermanwicz in Wedrowiec (spring 2005)
* Video Rozmowy z Bogdanem Ziętkiem made in 2009 by the Mazoviab Museum in Plock (9'41", Youtube, uploaded march 2012)

* Documentary video by Bartosz Blaschke Ziętek (Poland, 2008, subtitled in english, 16'32", Youtube, uploaded oct 2015)

* Video made of the opening of the exposition in the Gallery of Folk and Amateur Art KPCK in Bydgoszcz (2'47", Youtube, uploaded january 2016)

Bogdan Ziętek
Interior with sculptures
Brzeźnica, Poland
visits only on appointment