Art Almshouse

A house painter from Reading, Pennsylvania, Rasmussen was influenced by the works of Charles Hofmann, a fellow resident of the public poorhouse in Shillington, Berks County, Pennsylvania. Rasmussen was committed for alcoholism in 1879 and stayed at the facility until the end of his life. Painted on a heavy sheet of zinc, this aerial view provides a detailed and accurate image of the buildings and grounds of the institution within a central oval. Rasmussen included genre details such as townspeople passing on the road and residents and workers at the almshouse. At the four corners are views of the area’s factories and farmlands are seen in summer, winter, spring, and fall.

Almshouses can trace their history back to the 10th century, when Athelstan, the grandson of Alfred the Great, was on the throne, but they are not just a relic of the past. They continue to play a crucial role in providing accommodation for those judged to be “in need”, and with an ageing population are arguably more relevant now than ever.

In medieval times almshouses were often associated with monasteries. Synonyms for Almshouse include caravanserai, halfway house, dak bungalows, abode and refuge.

Atelier travels for Art and searches for locations that spontaneously grab his attention. From popular historical spots to hidden small alleys, he takes the time to observe and breath it in, often stare for a long time. Daydreaming and executing it through painting is his process for Expressionism landscapes.
The Portal by Heather Blakey 2006


Back in the day, at the Soul Food Cafe, participants responded to the call of the Enchantress, slipped through the portal, and took up residence in the Lemurian Abbey and Riversleigh Manor House. For those who took up residence, the Lemurian Abbey was a safe haven. Their work while in residence was a testimony to the healing power of creativity. The Artist’s Loft at Soul Food was another art space that featured lots of really creative work.

In my mind, a modern almshouse for artists would be a kind of art park, a base camp, like the Dak Bungalows of Imperial India, where a travelling artist might stay. It would be a sprawling place and house a series of shared rooms – a café, cookery school, art rooms, broad verandahs and meeting rooms – supporting both active and sociable use by residents and providing interaction with the wider community. There would be enough land to also house old donkeys and other animals who needed to live in a sanctuary environment.

Meanwhile, in the spirit of watching things Grow by Delay, I have a facebook page dedicated to the concept of an Artistic Almshouse. If you are interested make sure to join me there!

A small group of creatives who have sought refuge in a closed Almshouse group. Membership is limited to 10! Currently, there are five members! If you are interested in joining us you can contact me using this form or at heatherblakey@fastmail.fm.

 

 

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