A basement tends to be an ill-used, forgotten part of any house that is lucky to have one. Nowadays we approach them with caution, fearful and suspicious due to the cold and unwelcoming nature of the space compared with other, cosier and friendly living areas of a home. We associate them with phantoms evoking chills, our childhood imaginations come out to play and we just don’t want to be left alone. Perhaps it is the lack of windows heralding daylight, the very stuff of life to plants and humans, or the musty smell of old, sterile air.
Underground is associated with covert actions, the illicit, criminality, the fringes of society. The things we want to keep hidden: runaways, household staff, junk.
By bizarre juxtaposition, it provides shelter and a safe haven from outside danger: Anderson shelters, the trenches, underground railways all protected soldiers and civilians from the hazards up above, so they reverted from a place of discomfort to a place of solace.
The formula that transforms the basement is whether you yourself want to be in the open or out of sight. If you want to remain in obscurity, you love the basement where no-one will disturb you, and if you want to be among the world, you will flee from the dark refuge of the cellar.
The basement is for keeping things unseen, whether that is ghosts, laundry, spiders, or special treasures.
Basements Connected have come in from the shadows, bringing a unique set of treasures compiled by 14 artists from down below ground upstairs to shine for one week only at Road Studios from 16th September. See what is really lurking below those floorboards….
Words: Kirsten Hawkins