Dorich House: The Home, Studio & Gallery of Dora Gordine
Dorich House is pretty special. As the home, studio and gallery of sculptor; Dora Gordine, it’s also important because it was built to her exact design specifications.
Architectural drawing of Dorich House by Henry Ivor Cole, August 1935
Who was Dora Gordine?
Fiesty, fearless and talented were three words I was left with after been introduced to Dora Gordine at the home she designed for herself.
Self Portrait/Purple Head 1930-32
In 1938 she was hailed as having all the potential to be the greatest woman sculptor in the world. Her modernist, figurative sculptures were popular across Europe until the 1960s and she has work in the Tate‘s Collection. Yet, I’m ashamed to say that – despite studying Art History – I’d never come across her.
Born into a middle-class Latvian Jewish family, she grew up in Estonia, moved to Paris in 1924 and then in 1930 left Europe for Singapore.
This move to South East Asia cemented her reputation as a leading figure in Modernism but also hugely influenced both her architecture choices and the appearance of her sculptural figures.
By 1936 she had settled in Kingston with her aristocratic husband Richard Hare. Marrying Richard opened up a new world and social circle for Dora, bringing new public and private commissions as well as his own taste as a Professor of Russian Literature.
Richard’s sudden death in 1966 led to Dora retreating from public life, though she still continued to work for pleasure. She lived as a relative recluse in Dorich House until her death in 1991, aged 96.
Dorich House: Dora’s Dream Home
Being the daughter of an architect compounded Dora’s appreciation of the play of light, space and volume. In her lifetime she designed four homes and this was the last, intended to perfectly suit her needs.
A full time professional artist, Dora required a studio space with fantastic natural light and the space to create her work.
Situated on the ground floor, she installed a pulley system to transport her finished sculptures to the display space above;
On the middle floors are rooms bathed in natural light; the white cube gallery space to show her works at their best.
“I often say if people want to know me they should look at my sculpture. Words are not my medium at all” – Dora Gordine
Javanese Dancer 1927-28
As well as a space for creativity and productivity, Dorich House was a private home for Dora and her husband Richard. The name Dorich, made by combining their first names.
It follows then that these rooms were less grand, but rather domestic and private. You can feel this in the scale and the decor.
However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t some wonderful flourishes. My favourite being these insane – sliding! – circular doors.
There was another hideaway for the couple too. The roof overlooking Richmond Park.
“A marvellous restorative after a hard days work. we sleep here on hot summer nights” – Dora Gordine
Dorich House is one of the rare surviving studio homes of a woman artist in the country. Most famous of these is probably Barbara Hepworth’s studio and museum in St Ives. Dorich, however, is unique for being designed by Dora herself.
Dorich House is open Thursday-Sunday 11am-5pm, with guided tours on Friday and Saturday 11.30am. Entrance costs £5. Find out how to get there and read about their upcoming events here.
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