Jasper Fry first became intrigued with prop houses thanks to his wife Imogen who, as a prop buyer, visits them regularly.
Fascinated by the pictures she’d snap and send to him, Fry decided to take a look himself and spent months wandering through vast spaces filled with bizarre objects – everything from rooms stocked with china teapots and surgical lights to places that specialise in period furniture. These images are now on display at London’s Act One Cinema, in an exhibition entitled Prop Houses.
According to Fry, these treasure troves are mostly hidden across industrial estates off the North Circular, and are an ever-changing environment as objects are borrowed and then returned.
His images emphasise what bizarre places they are, with replica ancient busts perched below shelves of leather-bound books, and hanging wooden fish overlooking a room filled with odds and ends of furniture.
Images from The Lacquer Chest – a prop house that offers a huge range of vintage ephemera including recipe books, cutlery and apothecary bottles – show a traditional London townhouse stuffed to the gills with practically everything you can think of, while shots from Curious Science show the medical props, old and new, it’s known for.
“From medieval four-poster beds to American jukeboxes, replica Ming vases to 1960s cornflakes boxes, there isn’t much that can’t be found,” says Fry, who’s previously made work for Port magazine.
“To walk into each building sets the tone of the films for which they cater,” he adds. “So much more than simple display vessels, they reflect decades of research and care.”