Benjamin Rice, photographic artist, believes that last Saturday was the first time that the whole of the street facing, front elevation of Bell House has been photographed straight on. This may seem unbelievable, but having been built in 1767, the Georgian house has spent much of its life in the pre-photography era. In more recent years, it was shrouded in vegetation, so a photograph from this angle has not been possible - until now. There are many archive images of the house from the back and from the side, such as the Country Life photo from 1962, dug out by the Bell House historian, Sharon O'Connor, but none showing the structure without horticultural interference.
Benjamin, saw that the clearance of the rhododendron has allowed Bell House to wake up, like Sleeping Beauty, and he offered to take a professional picture of the magnificent facade. For this project, he used a three-metre high tripod and a camera with a whizzy (and presumably a fiercely expensive) lens. It was a beautifully clear day, and Benjamin had worked out that the sun would be "kissing the front" at about midday. Some of the ground floor window frames have recently been renovated, the front door freshly painted, the shutters bolted back and finally the distracting 21st century modes of transport were removed, so by the time he was all set, the house was looking its majestic best.
Benjamin will be exhibiting at Bell House for the Dulwich Festival as part of the Artists Open House weekends - 12th/13th May and 19th/20th May 2018. He will be displaying a series of very large, but micro-detailed ‘photographic art’ capturing nature’s reclamation of aging dry-stone walls. His wife Pip, a basket weaver, will also be showing her work, some of which have been created from foraged plant material sourced from Bell House’s garden.