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On Studio Spaces

Why your studio space should be both embraced and confronted.

Upon my recent move to Sheffield, I have acquired new dwellings and, for the first time, a dedicated and personal studio space. No longer am I attempting to squeeze artistic practice in between bedroom furniture and household appliances; I have a space which exists for art and art alone.

Initial steps towards any kind of mark making have been tentative, yet bewilderingly so.  A studio space offers no danger. It will not retract at the thought of paint stains:  It will not scrape out your eyes should a charcoal crayon fall to the floor: It will not weep uncontrollably should it find itself in a mess. Yet I suppose human nature dictates that there is a certain satisfaction in having everything just-so.


It won’t be like this for long. Over the next few days I intend to bombard it with egg yolks, linseed oil, tea bags, vinegar and salted water as I re-embark upon the process of creating paint. Paint which will contain within it associations and experiences derived from food. Needless to say, the eerie sense of cleanliness it currently possesses will be wiped out of memory almost instantaneously.  Yet I think there is something to be said about the very notion of a studio space, or at least, how it dictates the art we produce.

Experience has thought me that, generally speaking, a smaller studio space equates to smaller scale work and less scope for the exploration of materials and concepts. But this is not necessarily a bad thing and possibly not even true. Consider this – an experiment whereby a painter who has spent several years becoming acquainted with a large warehouse of a studio is suddenly forced into using an attic as a studio. Space is no longer a luxury, and creative output will have to adapt to the environment.  Canvases will reduce in size and brushstrokes will be harnessed, yet such a meteoric and forced changed to the approach of painting will unquestionably open up new possibilities and directions. Particularly for a painter struggling with instigating a new direction, a change of studio could be a great source of influence.

This sort of change should be embraced and of course, it does not only apply to painting. I’d happily bugger off to a converted airport for a month to see what kind of monumental instillation could emerge, just as I would trundle off to an unused prison cell to see if any small scale and domestically charged delights could develop.

I guess what I’m saying is claiming ownership of a studio is dangerous as it can blinker creativity. Not being afraid to abandon the comfort of your own studio is healthy as it can lead you to directions that would otherwise be overlooked and could be of great value. Wow, I actually summed that up more concisely than I imagined. Not that you needed to know that. In fact, these last three sentences have all but undone my lovely concise work. Shame.

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