Label Rewrite

Rachel Whiteread, Place (Village), V&A Museum of Childhood


Original Text Excerpt:

“All the lights are on in this deserted, ghostly, town (village). The emptiness of these miniature homes evokes forgotten memories and echoes of past inhabitants. This densely displayed community of 150 mismatched dolls’ houses has an absence of people and worldly things, suggesting a powerful sense of isolation. It is always night-time in the village.”


When I first read this label, I was surprised at the interpretation of the collection of doll houses as “isolated” and “ghostly.” I had interpreted the town as asleep, crowded, and peaceful. After a little research, I learned that the artist had removed the people and added lights to the interiors of the houses to encourage families to invent their own stories together about what was going on inside the homes. I thought that a more open-ended label would better fit this work, and allow for people (both children and adults) to come to their own conclusions about the “town.”


My Label Rewrite:

Rachel Whiteread spent most of her life living and working in East London. Rachel is a sculptor who often makes casts. Rachel is one of the Young British Artists, a term used to refer to a group of artists who exhibited together mostly in the 1990s. She was the first woman to win the Turner Prize in 1993.

This is her own private collection of doll houses that she found at rummage sales or has been given by friends ever since she left college. Before she donated them to the museum, she kept them in a dark room where she liked to play with them. Rachel has removed all the people and added lights to the inside of the houses because she wanted both children and adults to imagine stories for themselves.

What stories do you imagine?