If you’re casually strolling down Piccadilly after doing some shopping on Regent Street, you might be surprised to come across a traditional rustic red farmhouse in the middle of the square, looking utterly out of place, as if it was plucked off a rural American farm and plopped down in the heart of London.
Indeed, the intriguingly titled “PsychoBarn” did come from the States, where it was originally exhibited on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The installation was created by the English artist Cornelia Parker based on the Bates Motel from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film Psycho (which itself is based on a 1920s painting by the American painter Edward Hopper).
While the installation looks like a real house from most angles, it’s actually just a scaled-down facade, with the supporting structure clearly seen from the back just like a film set. The installation plays on the juxtaposition of the familiar and illusory—the wholesome values of the rural farmlands contrasted with the sinister feel of Hitchcock’s horror film.
This surprising bit of Americana sticks out like a sore thumb amid the neoclassical architecture of Annenberg Courtyard in Piccadilly. Sometimes known as the “Courtyard Societies,” the area is also home to the Geological Society, Royal Astronomical Society, Royal Society of Chemistry, Royal Academy of Arts, and other such distinctly British institutions.