Museums in People’s Homes Catalogue

Museums in People's Homes

Foreword by Peter Reed
'Other People's Homes' by Rob Knifeton
Featuring stories from the collections of Clare Bentley-Smith, John Boulton, Victoria Boyden, Gill Crawshaw, John Daniel, Tracey Dixon, Kathleen Henwood, Laura Hilton-Smith, Alan H, Ian, Jane Kettle, Christine Osborne, Alison Pidgeon, and Ralph Thoresby, written by Joshua Sofaer.

68pp full colour
Photography by Lizzie Coombs
Publication design by Tim Jukes Design

First published by Compass Live Art Ltd., 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9196000-0-0

Museums in People's Homes by Joshua Sofaer, 2021/2023. Cabinet designed and built with Plaey. Commissioned by Compass Festival.


Some people are collectors, others are not. Some people have the urge to rummage, root out, chase variations and multiples. Others can be satisfied with just one.

I am standing on the doorstep of a terraced house in Beeston. The man standing next to me is a collector, I am not. It is June 2019 and we are waiting to enter the home of another collector who contacted us in response to our public call.

Over the next two years we would stand together on many more doorsteps all over Leeds. It became apparent very early on that no matter the personality, be they recluse or evangelist, we wouldn’t emerge from the house for an hour or two. Such is the power of the relationship between collector and collection, they savoured every last second, and so did we.

At Compass Festival, one of our main aims is to make and show live and interactive art projects in the spaces where people live, work and play. We are committed to taking the very best and most unusual contemporary artists’ work out from the gallery or the museum so that it might more easily and meaningfully collide with, reflect, and beg questions of contemporary life. In the past we have done this in bus stations, libraries, markets and the city streets to make the experience of art less rarefied, more relevant and immediate. It seemed a logical next step to cross the threshold and go into the houses of the people of Leeds. The man standing next to me on those doorsteps was the artist Joshua Sofaer and the work he wanted to make with us was Museums in People’s Homes.

Each collection that we visited and accessioned has been distilled into a single object borrowed, augmented or created from scratch by Sofaer, using a sparing palette of materials that speak to worth, value and materiality itself. Housed within a mobile Wunderkammer, moving house to house with the artist as receptionist, curator and guide, a body shaped recess sits at the heart of the cabinet leaving space for the artist to embody the collectors we have met, and to tell the stories of their collections.

We visited far more collectors than could be included in this final selection of 14 and we are extremely grateful to each and every person that responded to our call and shared with us something about their collection and their lives. It is a privilege to have been invited inside from so many doorsteps, to take tea, hear stories, and to share reflections on the experiences of a life collecting. The process encapsulated so much of what we hope Compass Festival can be: hospitality, communality and the celebration of the creativity and imagination of the people who live and work in the city that we call our home.

Peter Reed
Co-Director, Compass Festival February 2021