Studio Nathan Coley

Showhome 2003


Temporary Public Sculpture
8m x 3m x 3.5m


North Shields, England

Photo Credit

Dave Harvey

Other Information

Commissioned by Locus+, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Subsequently shown:
The City Art Centre, Dublin, 2004
MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, 2004
British Artshow6, The Baltic, Gateshead, 2005


Circa Magazine, Sarah Browne, 2004

‘Showhome’ Paul Usherwood, Art Monthly, Aug 2003

‘Showhome’ Jay Merrick, The Independent, 10 June, 2003

Show Home

Irini-Mirena Papadimitriou & Lisa Bosse

The development of Show Home, reminiscent to a rural cottage, consists of a clear structured two-room accommodation, embodied by symmetry. In its simplicity the architecture becomes very attractive and easily recognisable. But what initially appears to be a typical cottage is only a three-sided structure, a sculpture that reassembles architecture. The oddly constructed cottage is something familiar to us but plays with ambiguity at the same time. “You read from the outside what is inside”, a viewer notes. Its full-scale and carefully created details make it not only look realistic, but also inhabited. A closer investigation reveals that Show Home is nothing more than a stage-set. Behind the scene the cottage looks weird and almost ghostly.

The project that was curated by Locus+ and commissioned by North Tyneside Council, has been materialised in three sites in North Shields: Royal Quays, Princes Court and Minton Fields. North Shields, known for its history of traditional fishing industry, offers a well-developed infrastructure and is considered an ideal family retreat. The three selected locations for the display of Show Home are part of a rapidly developing area. Isolated and distinctive from its surrounding architectural environment, Show Home was literally constructed on the last remaining bit of land in that area.

With Show Home, Nathan Coley established a project, which is planned in any detail to seem realistic. In addition to the real-scale construction, he employs a media campaign to promote his house similar to that used by Estate Agencies. To convince the viewer-consumer, the prototype cottage is presented with photographs, a brochure and a CD-Rom. Advertisements in newspapers and magazines enhance this show further.

Nathan Coley stages the dream home in reach of the city. Show Home offers the unique opportunity to settle in the ideal house and in the ideal environment. In an ironic way he manipulates people’s desires and social aspirations by making use of the cliché marketing language, which becomes an integral part of the artwork. The brief moment of Show Home symbolizes the standardised lifestyle that many thrive for. At the same time, it evokes nostalgia for something that we cannot really have. Nathan Coley disrupts people’s idealised concept of the rural dream.

Show Home reveals itself as a temporary public sculpture that proposes a different approach to public art. "It [three-sided construction] pushes the work away from being read as architecture and moves it closer to being sculpture and clearly artifice.” the artist states. Nathan Coley’s intention is to create a platform for debate, to question the continuous development of this environment and to discuss the issue of art’s intervention in the public space.

Show Home attracted a wide range of people with positive reactions, many of whom expressed also a strong interest in buying it. Until, they realised that the “simple, traditional house” or “the home they were looking for” was just a fake. But still, in the audience’s memory Show Home remains a symbol for that unrealised dream.