I moved just over six months ago. Working in my new location has been exciting and new, a little bit like being on an extended holiday. But working in the studio has just felt cold, literally and not right. Why?
It's a major thing to move, we all know that and moving the studio is no exception. Moving into a space that was bare plaster and bare concrete floor, though full of potential, was not the worked out and beautiful space that I had left behind. I like to work in an ordered space, the Stowe Castle studio gave me an office space and a separate working room with a large painting wall... The Studio, Hilden was still full of boxes and furniture and though I'd painted the working wall, it's still must be slightly new and damp and nothing will stay stuck to it for long. There were boxes of my books everywhere, furniture in there intended for other spaces, a bare grey concrete floor.
One of my favourite art books is by Joe Fig and is called “Inside the Painter's Studio.” Where people do creative work fascinates me. Francis Bacon's studio was famously messy, so much so that when he died the floor had years and years worth of old newspapers, paint, paper plates, food and who knows what on it. In it's entirety it has been moved around as a hallowed exhibition piece, it's fascinating and people want to see it. Barbara Hepwoth's studio in St Ives, part of the house she lived and died in, is now like a site of pilgrimage, her tools laid out ready to work as if she has just popped out for a moment.
In the book the Artist's Way, Julia Cameron talks often about the sacred space in which we work, the rituals artists often need at the start the working day and the way the studio is approached each morning. In Buckingham I had these things in place, but here, though work is being produced my space was almost warring against my work and my joy.
There comes a moment when you realise this, something that switches on the idea that something must be done! For me it was being away from the space, out of the country and realising that I was not excited to be going back to it. The seemly monumental list of things that needed to be done before it could be sorted and the sharing of that with the one person (Pete) who could really help. So in the last two days of half term suddenly there was energy and activity and action, rooms were painted and furniture removed from the space and carpet laid in the spaces around the studio so that the approach to it was not just bare grey concrete and bare plaster walls. A bathroom went back in and an office space was created away from the studio space; no computer on my painting table. The tin of grey floor paint I had bought because it was £20 cheaper than a colour, unopened, was returned and a fresh joyful colour bought in its place.
This week I haven't been painting pictures but painting the floor and walls of my studio, it has felt like nesting! And gradually I can see a working space emerging that I can not wait to work in. The fresh green of the floor makes the room sparkle with light, finally I can put my books away on the book shelf because I'm not waiting to move them to sort the floor, the floor is sorted! Suddenly it feels like my space. While the floor has been wet (it needs two coats and has had to be done in two halves) I have found myself staring longingly through the window, excited to be in there. The aesthetic is right! All the drawing and collecting of ideas that I have done over that last few months hopefully now have a space in which to be hatched....