‘Art’ house gives taste of life on the edge

AN artist whose home is teetering on the edge of a cliff after a landslip is inviting people to stay the night – to experience “the tension and beauty of a house doomed to crash onto the cliffs below”.

Artist Kane Cunningham at his 'art house' on the cliff edge
Artist Kane Cunningham at his 'art house' on the cliff edge

Kane Cunningham said his house at Knipe Point, Scarborough, is now a “social sculpture”, although he makes clear he will not accept liability for the consequences of anybody taking up his offer.

The owners of four properties at Knipe Point have been told to tear their homes down after a chunk of crumbling cliff face fell away last month, putting them on the brink of collapse.

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In 2008, three houses at the site had to be demolished after a landslip.

And now Mr Cunningham, who bought his on his credit card for £3,000 in 2009, said he is offering a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to share the experience of life on the edge.

“The house is a site-specific work of art; it is about the environment, property ownership, life and death,” he said.

“I have decided to leave the house unlocked for people to visit, to stay for five minutes or five hours. If people wish they can stay overnight to experience the feeling of uncertainty, anxiety and living on the edge, literally.”

He added: “The last three years has been a roller coaster of a journey. It has expanded the way I see the world and the way I think about art.

“This is a social sculpture, it is also about people and their concerns, so it makes sense to unlock the door and to challenge ideas related to privacy, security and material ownership.

“I remember as a child people leaving their doors unlocked; nobody thought that their possession would be stolen; communities kept an eye on each other. So this is also about the loss of these relationships and the breakup of communities, who fear for their families and their accumulated possessions bought on their credit cards.”

Mr Cunningham’s house is one of those due for demolition.

Last week, investigations revealed a leaking water pipe was not the cause of the latest landslip.

Residents had obtained a consultant’s report which they initially claimed linked the instability of the cliff to leaks from a pipe which serves the McCain’s oven chip and frozen food factory on the outskirts of Scarborough.

But Yorkshire Water, responding to claims that water was coming from its pipe which serves McCain’s factory, said: “We’d like to reassure everyone concerned that our investigations show that our pipe is not to blame in any way for the recent land slippage.

“Our own checks have also confirmed the water coming from the cliff is not potable water, meaning that it hasn’t come from any of our drinking water supply pipes in the area.

“Available evidence would seem to suggest that the landslip was simply an act of nature. Certainly, this theory is supported by a larger, earlier study, conducted by the council, which concluded that this stretch of coastline is geologically active, leading to periodic landslips.”

McCain said the allegations had proved “unfounded” and said: “Solid evidence and expert opinion also make that clear.”

But the company added: “No one in Scarborough can have anything but sympathy for the plight of those living at Knipe Point.”

Mr Cunningham’s house is about 4ft from the edge.