The Haunted House was an art installation that took place after the official opening of the Castlemilk Womanhouse in 1990. Organised by women in the Womanhouse, notably Rachael Harris and Julie Roberts, the Haunted House was a participatory project aimed at children. For weeks, women and children in Castlemilk worked on making gruesome sculptures, installations, and costumes. Installations in the Haunted House included a room of suspended severed limb; exploding gunge ‘blisters’ on the walls; a maze; a skull room; and a creepy bathroom.
I had a hippo’s skull, in the corner of the room, as well. We got an ice – dry ice – fog machine from somewhere and stuck it inside the hippo’s skull, and that was one of the things at the end when we got them sort of really scared and frightened. we’d bring them back in and say ‘well you have to say thank you to the hippo’ and get one of the brave boys to come up and stroke it to say thank you and then set off the dry ice machine and then open the door and get them all running out and then there was one final big scary thing before they all went screaming down the stairs… School parties, all sorts of groups, the locals started coming in the evening, getting their big brothers to bring them along. So it was all sexes, all ages. And it was on the second floor – the floor below the office on the top floor – quite high up – and we had queues all down the stairway, going right out to the road at the front, of people waiting to come in. And when they’d got the final scare, after the scare of the dry ice and the hippo, and then the final scare in the hall, and then Julie would open the door, and these girls just ran screaming down the entire staircase, screaming the whole way till they were out of the building, past all the people queueing, which got everybody else waiting to come in really keyed up, like Jesus, they really are frightening in there. It was great fun.
– Rachael Harris. Interview with Kate Davis and Alice Andrews, March 2014.
As part of the Haunted House, some local teenage boys were enlisted to make a soundtrack which would accompany the children and adults that visited the house – their only brief was that it should be as frightening and horrible as possible! (A copy of this soundtrack is on tape in the GWL archive, and can be listened to on request – at your own peril…)
The Haunted House only ran for a brief period, but proved to be one of the most popular events put on by Castlemilk Womanhouse.
All images by Rachael Harris and copyright Glasgow Women’s Library. Click on any of the images to see them full-size (if you dare!)
See the poster for the Haunted House here.