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My Life As A House

27 January 2007 - 03 March 2007

Collector Penny Milne has talked about her dolls house as an important activity and companion during spells of unwellness. The imaginary world of the dolls house and it's not uncommon role as a substitute for the real world of companionship is not far removed from the function of dolls houses as instruments of education which connect children with the realities of the world. Nora West's dolls house was made for her third birthday and as a treasured possession it was brought to New Zealand and used, stored and then fell into disrepair. For her sixtieth birthday her family and friends rebuilt, restored and completely refurbished the house as a 'this is your life' present featuring Nora's 1940s/1950s childhood bedroom; her 1960s London student flat bedroom; the 1970s kitchen in the families Cotswold cottage; and a living room which represents her life in New Zealand from the 1980s onward. The attic rooms were left empty so that Nora could create rooms in her future. Like Mrs. James Thorne's famous Thorne Rooms, the West Dolls House presents in a documentary way authentic miniature interiors. In the West House the purpose is the celebration of the ownerâ's life whilst the intention of the 68 Thorne Rooms is the celebration of craftsmanship and ‘taste’. Whether designed for adults or children the dolls houses is a place that enables us to imagine and enact whole lives and histories within interiors we are able to order and re-order. For many these inventions are a very real and lifelong aspect of their lives.