Book: The House of Beauty and Culture

The art collective House of Beauty and Culture, which included Judy Blame, Christopher Nemeth and Mark Lebon, is remembered in a book from the ICA

The House of Beauty and Culture is a book by the writer Kasia Maciejowska and Gregor Muir, executive director of the ICA. It looks at the rise of the art collective House of Beauty and Culture in the late 1980s and how it put Dalston on the cultural map.

Published by the ICA, the book contains archive photography and images of design objects. It also includes interviews with key figures from the scene. Artists Judy Blame, John Moore, Christopher Nemeth, Richard Torry, Cindy Palmano, Mark Lebon, Fric+Frack and Dave Baby all feature.

The House of Beauty and Culture [HOBAC] collective experimented with deconstruction as both a design technique and aesthetic. Members of the collective took inspiration from subcultural iconography and the DIY spirit of punk, as well as from their outsider idols such as David Bowie and William Burroughs.

The HOBAC was a little-known studio and shop founded by shoe designer John Moore, which was open from 1986 to 1989. The house was home to a collective of artists, designers and photographers who reinterpreted objects they found in London’s gutters into pieces of art. Their work was displayed on the dancefloors of the famous nightclub Taboo.

The group emerged during the government of the Conservative leader Margret Thatcher, who was renowned for having no cultural appetite. In an article for the Guardian, the pop culture writer John Harris said, “The paradox, then, was delicious, because Thatcher, her ideas, and their impact on society all served to create a cultural earthquake.”