It all started with a spontaneous rave in someone’s front room. Five years ago, DJ Arthur Smith, aka Artwork, ran a competition on Twitter, offering the chance to win a house party with him on the decks. ‘We turned up at the winner’s terraced house on a Tuesday with smoke machines, lasers, lights, a bar,’ he explains. ‘We played ’til 2am when the neighbours complained and shut us down.’ Smith loved the idea so much he re-created it in nightclubs from Pikes in Ibiza to XOYO in London, building a reputation for creating warm, welcoming house parties – albeit in slightly larger venues. In 2018, he decided to make it official, and set up Art’s House Festival.
It’s no normal festival. ‘Art’s House is more a house party in a field than it is a festival,’ says Smith. Rather than a packed schedule of different artists fighting for attention, Art’s House only has two acts playing: Artwork himself, of course, and DJ Harvey as the sole guest appearance. There’s no set times around their performances, either. ‘Everyone’s dancing to the same music, which gives it a unique vibe. Everyone’s on the same page.’
This year, Smith is going way beyond what he created in 2018. For starters, he’s building two full-sized terraced houses on-site to act as backdrops to the party, complete with fully furnished kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms, as a nod to that original rave. There’ll also be a sound system from Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage, plus appearances from Sink The Pink, the LGBTQ+ dance collective. All the food and drink vendors are handpicked by Smith, and there’ll be a stall from streetwear supremo Jonny Banger, founder of Wavey Garms and Sports Banger, and Smith’s friend.
‘It’s great just being out in a park in summer in London,’ says Smith. ‘Only having one stage lets us build the party from start to finish. Last year it started with Harvey playing an incredible chilled edit of Dark Side Of The Moon, and we ended with the lights flashing and everyone going bananas. The place really comes alive.’
Tickets from £35, 10 August, Three Mills Island, E3 3DU, artshousefestival.co.uk