A London House Transformed: 575 Wandsworth Road
575 Wandsworth Road is an early 19th-century terraced house in London that has a captivating story of transformation into a breathtaking work of art. Owned by Khadambi Asalache (1935- 2006), a Kenyan-born poet, novelist, mathematic philosopher, and British civil servant, this remarkable house is a testament to his creativity and interest in cultural fusion.
In 1981, Asalache purchased the house and embarked on a project to improve the interiors. An adjoining commercial laundry had caused persistent dampness in the house’s basement dining room. Asalache addressed the issue by ingeniously covering the damp walls with wood. He hand-carved pine doors and floorboards, using wood reclaimed from skips, and transfigured the house’s walls, ceilings, and doors.
The stunning result is an amalgamation of Kenyan, Moorish, and Ottoman designs, adorned with painted decoration, and furnished with Asalache’s handmade fretwork furniture. In each room, he carefully arranged his collections of objects, including pressed-glass inkwells, pink and copper lusterware, postcards, and his personal typewriter. After the poet’s death in 2006, the National Trust acquired the property.
NT Curators Laura Hussey and Alice Strickland will illustrate the house for Royal Oak members. They will highlight Asalache’s collection and also talk about Asalache’s artistic inspiration and explain the significance of his masterpiece.
Laura Hussey, House & Gardens Manager, National Trust
Laura Hussey is the House and Gardens Manager at 575 Wandsworth Road – overseeing all operations, including community partnerships, programming, people management, visitor experience and conservation. She first joined the NT in 2013 as Acting House Steward at Osterley Park. She also worked at Sutton House in 2015-2016. She graduated from University of Exeter and did post-doctoral work at Oxford Brookes University.
Alice Strickland, Curator, National Trust
Dr. Alice Strickland is a curator for the National Trust. Her doctorate considered British women artists of the Second World War and she was awarded a Paul Mellon research grant for a publication on women artists of the First World War. Her contributions to publications include Laura Knight: A Celebration (Penlee Museum exhibition catalogue, 2021) and Learning from the Masters (Ashgate, 2013). Her book Laura Knight (2020) forms part of a series on Modern Women Artists published by Eiderdown Books.