ARTIST Finn Stone is at his north London home wearing a trademark oversized Vivienne Westwood hat. Treading a fine line between upmarket curio shop, Alice In Wonderland theme park and Austin Powers’ bedroom, this could well be London’s most eclectic home. Everything in the house has been made, collected, found or combined by the artist, also known as the Mad Hatter.
It’s the kind of house where everything is a one-off, collectible or precious (or all three), so you would think that any breakages would be devastating, right?
‘Not at all,’ says Finn. ‘If something breaks in the house, I clap. [Accidents] create something new. I don’t mind it when paint gets onto trousers. I like it when mistakes get made.’
So, what would upset him if it were to get damaged? ‘Probably my hat,’ he laughs. ‘From the age of 21, or younger, as time passed, the hats got bigger.’
Finn is fun, friendly and constantly creative, but also thoughtful and reflective. Which is how his home is, too. When he bought it, he wanted everything in the house to have either been made by him, or for him.
Style gurus, trend hunters, colour experts and fad merchants, look away now — you won’t like what you see. Anyone who appreciates a lighthearted middle finger to house rules will love it, though.
The house is a riot of different colours, with original elements from when Finn and his partner Allison bought it, such as the electric fireplace. This is mixed with artworks by Finn, and unique pieces he’s made — such as an eight-foot bear with a TV head and a rainbow face in his hallway. Only a fool would try to pigeonhole Finn’s colourful personal style, or that of his home, but I give it a go anyway — is it punk? ‘My style is retro rogue,’ he says, after some thought. ‘I see colour, I see retro, I see history, but with a sort of pop. Then there can be a rogue edge to it.’
Born in 1971 to Irish parents, Finn works from home. The studio and storage is made up of a converted garage and the ‘magic shed’, which he says is small but creates big things. Finn works mostly with sculpture, creating one-off pieces that are a by-product of his lateral thinking and are dripping in absurdity.
Famous works by Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh and Andy Warhol have been painstakingly recreated using hundreds of paintbrushes, while Damien Hirst-esque sharks are splattered with multicoloured chicken pox. Increasingly collectable, Finn’s paintbrush artworks have been sold for more than £24,000.
‘I get out of bed and fall into a big pot of paint,’ he says. ‘I’m not a big commuter. It’s nice when working late at night, not far away from your family. It’s a bit like having a sidecar on the side of house, I just jump into it.’
With this house, work and life roll neatly into one. Finn’s life is about art and he tends to create whenever the mood takes him. He may find something in the street, such as the front of a washing machine he used as a canvas. He also picks up stuff in second-hand shops, and has a special agreement with some of the owners to have a root through the best items out the back, including a Victorian wedding dress that he dipped in resin.
The artworks are normally on display in the house, sometimes for years so he can get to understand them better. A favourite piece, a giant Francis Bacon made of paintbrushes and old oil tubes, is one he says he is unlikely to sell, even though he once tried to.
‘It’s funny, I made it two years ago and it did go on show and nobody bought it, but they should have. It always comes back to me. I’d be sad to see it go — they might have to take my arms with it.’
The centre of the house is the red room which leads out to the studio. It features a giant table he made in 2010, and rows of paintings made out of paintbrushes. It is also home to the ‘dark corner’, as Finn calls it.
‘The dark corner is for paintings done very late at night of myself, sitting at a big wobbly table with a mirror in front of me,’ he says. ‘It looks like your emotions, and comes from when I don’t know what to paint so end up painting myself. For whatever reason, they come out dark.’
The house, he says, is a mixture of his 1970s taste and Allison’s penchant for the 1950s with a little influence from his two children, plus some random elements thrown in. He doesn’t plan on moving anytime soon.
At the end of our chat, Finn returns to the bear. ‘When we moved, I was told not to bring that into the house. When everyone went out me and four mates snuck it into the house at night, and it has stayed there ever since. I made it as a public sculpture but it wasn’t used, so I ended up with a bear with no head, and put a big TV on top. It’s normal to have this in my house.’
■ Mad Hatter, a huge exhibition of Finn Stone’s works, is at the Imitate Modern in Mayfair until November 12, imitatemodern.com