Decorate Your House or Garden Competition - Surreal Theme  

Balsall Heath has an interesting history of surrealism, with English surrealist Conroy Maddox living in the area during the late 1940s and early 1950s (when he was known as the leader of the ‘Bohemians of Balsall Heath’). The Surreal House competition, with large cash prizes - £300 First Prize / £150 Second Prize / £75 Third Prize - was open to anyone in Balsall Heath and had one rule: decorate your house or garden in a ‘surreal’ way for one week in August. The competition was judged by Dr Stephen Forcer, a specialist in Surrealism from Birmingham University. 

First Prize: The Surrealist Garden

'This entry stood out as the sort of construction that Maddox and other Surrealists might actually have made themselves, re-using a variety of objects to refer to Surrealist symbols and history, and drawing attention to itself even while it raises the question 'What on earth is going on here?' It looks - and is - bizarre, but the entry really coheres with itself without trying too hard, and there is a great deal going on in it. We also liked the air of Paganism that it brought to a suburban house.'

Joint Second Prize: The Maddox House (The Surrealist Leg), and the Dali House (clock, ants, lobster)

'Two brilliantly playful and well executed entries, based on artwork by Maddox and Dali respectively. Both houses had people doing double-takes and stopping to stare, and it was impossible to separate the two. Maddox would surely have approved of the sense of fun, unexpectedness and unreal scale that they bring to each house.'

Dr Stephen Forcer. 

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