I’ve taken up a temporary working space in a large public gallery, currently closed due to Covid19. I’ve done this before; using temporary space, outside of my small, cluttered home studio. The benefits are enormous. The limited time booked in the space(2 weeks currently) & the unfamiliarity are both a challenge & a welcome disturbance to usual ways of working. I feel free to experiment & a lack of preciousness, resulting in new projects which are a surprise to myself.
In my experience studio complexes which offer short-term sub-lets help create a healthy dynamism in the building: it can avoid unused studio spaces, for instance when resident artists have an extended absence. It also helps finance the studios. Pre-Covid19, public art galleries, which could offer temporary working spaces to artists, encouraged engagement between the visitors & artists. Now this is only possible where the public can view artists through large windows onto the street. There’s no dialogue or meeting
This has been such a useful experience for both my own artistic development & that of the other socially distanced artists, in this temporary gallery space. Through chatting across the gallery floor, or talking outside the Phoenix gallery building, we all acknowledge the breadth that this gives to our own practices. Getting away from a familiar, cluttered space & meeting others from outside our usual artistic groups is so beneficial. I’ve appreciated the professional gallery space, re-appropriated to working creative space, seeing the general public walking by & looking in from the street. The usual emotional aspects of studio practice, including feeling euphoria & fear, are altered in a temporary environment. Other artists will re-use the space after me & this continuum of creative practice in the closed public gallery is a good adaptation to the current restricting covid19 social distancing rules.
Having cleared the 5mX5m floor space, I’ve made room for the 9m wire mesh roll to dictate what happens next. It’s a combination of careful balancing & weighing the inherent tension within the wire mesh coil & unfurling it into the space. attempting to cover as much of the floor as it will allow. It develops into a game between myself & the material: unwinding, then snapping shut, uncurling into unanticipated shapes, before curling up again. My intention is not to impose a given shape onto the sculpture, or to use any more than the original materials available; 3 nails across the walls, the floor, the walls. I allow the wire mesh to settle with gravity & use its own spring tension
Reflecting on how this gallery space has affected my practice after a week. I’ve seen other artists from studio spaces within Phoenix, but due to social distancing, we’ve had no collaborative chats in the studio space. This has reinforced the feeling of clear, empty space for me. I’ve de-cluttered my working area of debris between projects & new aspects of the gallery walls & light have become evident. After a week, I’m now considering the rental cost & how much I’ve achieved
The light and airy feeling of the empty gallery space is conducive to creating temporary sculptures. I document the multiple versions I make with quick photos. The transience & processes of making the sculptures are the art for me, rather than a finished object that will endure. I’m also considering the former use of these gallery areas, where hundreds of visitors have passed through & lingered. Some visited as a social event with friends, some visited specifically to experience the art shows, some came in as quick respite from bad weather. There was also an open cafe in the building.
Now, due to Covid19 restrictions, none of this can happen
Engaging with the unfamiliar space. Creating in the unfamiliar space. Noticing the different lighting system & the shadows it creates. Noticing the different traffic sounds from my home studio. Hearing strangers chatting in other studio spaces. Variety of people passing by on the street. Creating new working clutter.