First published: Winter 2023/24
UK artist Jim Sanders has transformed his home into an immersive, sensory experience that embodies his belief in the power of nature
At the foot of one of the steepest roads in a busy residential area in the city of Brighton, on England’s south coast, sits Jim Sanders’ Spirit House. Home to the artist for the past 18 years, the Spirit House contains his nature-inspired artwork, all created since he moved to the city in 1998. The house has taken on various identities in that time but, in recent years, Sanders’ work has developed into large-scale immersive environments, often constructed in modular form and illuminated through live performance and sound. Since May 2022, Sanders has opened the house every few months, inviting the public to share in his ritualistic way of seeing art and the world. The openings are often timed to coincide with Pagan Sabbats, festivals which mark the wheel of the year.
Sanders and the Wall of Shrines in his kitchen, photo: David McHugh
It was in 2008 that the notion of the Spirit House first came to him. He was becoming increasingly interested in creating environments in which audiences could become fully immersed, and had had an exhibition titled “Critical Mass” at a Brighton gallery, which presented a landscape of the Totem sculptures he makes from salvaged wood and found materials. Ten years later, his appreciation of pattern and sacred geometry was compounded when he saw a Siberian Shaman coat at the Musée de Quai Branly in Paris; and, at around the same time, he was given an antique Afghan male wedding robe. Inspired, he created the Spirit Memory Coat which would become the basis of the first Spirit Room in his house.
The Spirit Memory Coat on its stand in the first Spirit Room
Sanders opened the Spirit House to the public as an immersive experience in 2021. From the outside, it is an unassuming terraced property, its unusual interior hinted at only by a front door that is painted with Aztec masks, headdresses, symbols, patterns, and faces (to act as protective guardians). Inside, immediately on the right, is Sanders’ studio room where he works, making “veils” – his hanging, shredded, collage paintings. Across the hall is the first Spirit Room, with the Spirit Memory Coat as its central piece, hung between the Coat of the Unknown Artist – a pantomimic shawl that Sanders describes as a memorial to all the artists whose work disappears once they die – and the Nature Coat, made from objects gathered from the beach and the woods.
by KATE DAVEY
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #117.