Where art meets history

Vintage House

In a quiet cul-de-sac lined with trees near Richard’s Park on Cookson Road adjacent to the Holy Ghost monastery, survives the home of Richard Cookson, built in the 1900s. He was a British civil servant after whom the street and the area is named. His was one of the first homes to be built in a part of old Bangalore that was filled with undulating granite hills, lakes, farms and vineyards.

Today, the house stands as a testament to a bygone era, with its typical colonial architecture characterised by sturdy limestone walls and high ceilings, rooms that run endlessly into each other and above all, extensive servants’ quarters and stables in the charming backyard. Legend has it that the house was built next to a lake with Cookson taking care to retain the steps that led to it when he built his house.

The Husseins who bought the house from Richard Cookson, himself had originally migrated from Pakistan generations ago. Passionate about retaining the old charm of the place, they have converted the servants’ quarters and stables into a granny cottage, which is used as a Heritage Art Quarter housing a couple of self-contained quaint studios and gallery space. The large garden is filled with rambling bushes, trailing vines and old trees of every description. Paved pathways lead to pretty little corners and flower covered arches. Artists, who rent the space, set up their easels and paint to the sound of birds and bees and the rustle of leaves.

Shirley Matthew is a Bangalore-based artist who has converted the old drivers’ room into her studio and worked here for some time now. “An artist cannot hope for a better location. The view and the atmosphere are both inspiring and soothing. One can actually feel the benign presence of spirits from the past in a comforting sort of way keeping a friendly eye on the place,” she laughs.

The granny cottage/studio has rooms all in a row like a train and is still referred to by the names of its earlier occupants like Kamala’s room, Theresa’s room and Erikamma’s room. Old hand painted ceiling tiles set off a charming fresco reproduction of Michael Angelo’s Creation of Adam, that further adds to the charm of the place. The walls are covered with art done by different artists and across the courtyard. The old cookhouse has also been converted into an art studio with the pantry in the main house serving as a
convenient attached kitchen.

 The idea of using the space to promote art is something that greatly appealed to the present owners of the house who feel that keeping the valuable space unused leads to deterioration of an old building.

Since  changing the character of the house and its grounds was not an option, they felt that artists who wanted  studio and gallery space would put this lovely old property to best use while preserving its charm and character in the best possible way.

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