The home and tower on the Suffolk coast that’s a peaceable artists’ residence | Life and elegance


Caroline Wiseman was having fun with her morning dip within the sea off Aldeburgh, Suffolk the place 2 brick towers as soon as served as sailor’s lookouts, when an epiphany struck. “I noticed a ‘for sale’ sign on the south tower and fell into reverie, dreaming about how it would make a wonderful place for artists to work,” she says. When the proprietor instructed that she purchased the tower and his 18th-century home behind it, she jettisoned warning and mentioned sure. “I’d been looking for somewhere to buy: this place is unique.”

Since she arrange her first gallery at dwelling in south London, Wiseman has at all times been an advocate of dwelling with the artwork that she sells. But the Aldeburgh Beach Lookout is not any typical gallery, “It’s a place where artists can come for a week’s residency. We ask them to respond to the setting in innovative ways, with dance, film, sculpture or poetry,” she says. She additionally invitations artists to remain within the pastel-hued home which she shares along with her associate, Francis Carnwath, a former deputy director of the Tate.

Windows on the world: the tower and gallery with the house behind it.

Windows on the world: the tower and gallery with the home behind it. Photograph: James Balston/Observer

Built within the mid-19th century, the tower served as a lookout for locals to identify ships in bother. Later, the tower and adjoining boathouse had been used for storage by fishermen. When Wiseman first noticed the lookout it was “wind-bashed” however beguiling. “For 30 years the author Laurens van der Post used the second-floor room for writing. It was untouched,” says Wiseman, who preserved the unique really feel of the inside, with its vertiginous steel staircase. She made few modifications to the home, other than knocking by means of to the nextdoor cottage, purchased from the identical proprietor. “We took a section of wall out of the first floor to link the sitting room with my office,” she explains. On the bottom flooring a door leads from the eating room to the lounge within the cottage.

The view from the tower along Aldeburgh beach

The view from the tower alongside Aldeburgh seaside, initially a lookout for locals to identify ships in bother. Photograph: James Balston/Observer

On a midsummer’s day, the inside is uncluttered, welcoming. The partitions and flooring are painted white and sunshine floods by means of the brand new French home windows, which open from the cottage on to the shingle seaside. Throughout the home you discover heirlooms and antiques, together with folkish items present in upstate New York, the place Wiseman used to stay, blended with up to date artwork, ceramics and sculpture and 20th-century work by artists corresponding to Terry Frost, some on the market by appointment. “Art isn’t a commodity: it’s about stories, the ideas behind pieces and creating an emotional connection with them,” says Wiseman. “I’ve always believed it’s easier to convey that in a domestic setting.”

Aldeburgh dining room

The eating room with the graphic black-and-white portray, a prop from a play Wiseman wrote about energy within the artwork world. Photograph: James Balston/Observer

One of her favorite spots is the sheltered terrace, dominated by a face sculpture by Henry Piper made out of bicycle components with automotive lights for eyes, their glint seen from afar. “This is my spot for reading, thinking, what I call zezzing,” says Wiseman. She was drawn to Aldeburgh by its cultural ambiance and her exhibitions by no means shrink back from mind-stretching themes. The newest, Einstein and Picasso, attracts parallels between the methods during which the artist and scientist seen area and time: Picasso by means of Cubism, Einstein relativity.

Caroline Wiseman

Caroline Wiseman: ‘We encourage our artists to experiment.’ Photograph: James Balston/Observer

The indefatigable Wiseman has even written a play about energy within the artwork world (key characters embrace Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin) which made its debut on the Edinburgh Festival. The graphic black-and-white portray within the eating room is a prop from the play. “I’d sold a piece and needed something punchy to fill the gap,” says Wiseman. From right here, glass doorways result in the kitchen the place Wiseman stripped paint off the partitions for a country farmhouse impact. A large cupboard got here from Wiseman’s earlier dwelling in south London, together with the Aga, which was dismantled and painstakingly reassembled. “We are always entertaining so it’s ideal for slow cooking fish we’ve bought on the beach,” she says. In summer time, company spill out into the boathouse.

Many former residents, together with Clara Drummond, who won the BP Portrait Prize, have gone on to search out success. Drummond’s hanging drawing of a horse hangs within the sitting room, the place home windows look on to the tower. “We encourage our artists to experiment,” says Wiseman. It is a remit that has lured even established artists. Tai Shan Schierenberg (one other BP prize winner), the Turner Prize nominee Alison Wilding and Royal Academicians Eileen Cooper, Sir Peter Blake and sculptor Nigel Hall have discovered inspiration within the tower the place van der Post’s room is furnished evocatively with a Suffolk chair, desk and candlestick.

The white stairwell hung with totemic masks.

The white stairwell hung with totemic masks. Photograph: James Balston/Observer

Every residency culminates in a present. In summer time, bellinis circulate and guests are requested to jot down one thing “about the meaning of existence” on the pebbles piled on a wood desk outdoors. “We took a gamble when we moved here but it’s paid off,” displays Wiseman. “It can be bleak in winter but it’s always beautiful… It’s a place that inspires you to be creative, and ambitious.”

Einstein and Picasso: Revolutionaries in Space and Time is on from 7 to 27 July, (

Serena Fokschaner from

Leave a Reply