My practice encompasses installation, object making and live art as well as projects and teaching.  In June 2015 I moved to Enköping (“Sweden’s nearest town”) where I have my studio and also work as cultural pedagog for the council.  Whenever I can I continue as assistant to Scandinavia’s only plume-maker with fantastic creations for theaters and private clients!

Your comments and feedback are welcome and appreciated – thank you

#stuartmayesstudio on Instagram




At 9.30 this morning I am going to meet three artists at the studio – hopefully they are interested in sharing the other large space. A fourth artist who is also interested in being part of the studio group is away until later in the week.


Klas and I spent Thursday at the studio and made good headway getting things in order – at least to point where we can start to move things over the old studio. The place was covered in a thick layer of ‘builder’s dust’, then there were the heaps of rubble, piles of torn-down electric cables, odd bits of old plasterboard (some of which we have salvaged), general scrap and a ‘wood effect’ plastic concertina door that needed dealing with. It seems that as soon as permission to make new windows was denied the builders simply packed up their tools and left.


In the process of cleaning we chatted about how we want the studios to be: a dynamic and inspiring workplace for those of us there on a regular basis, but also a place where there can be ‘open workshops’, courses, temporary exhibitions, and guest artists – all making use of a ‘project room’. Two adult education organisations have expressed an interest in taking on a studio/room and although this is an attractive offer we came to the conclusion that it might be better for us if they hire/book the project room at a ‘day rate’. This would enable us to make best use of the space and maintain the ‘artistic identity’ of the studios. We are also very clear that we are starting a process and that things will shift and develop organically as we get going.


It felt very good to be in the space – the rooms are well proportioned and the natural light is very welcome after a year in a studio without windows. The dated and somewhat peculiar colour scheme is far from what I would choose however it is not something that we are going to do anything about for the foreseeable future. If we get a long-term contract it would be worth the investment of both time and money. For now it is definitely a case of ‘make do and mend’. In our current studio Klas and I each adopted one of the two adjoining spaces, the new studio suggests new ways of thinking about space and we have decided to divide the room that we will share into separate ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ areas – both of which we will share. As we both work with materials/projects that range from the terminally dusty to the almost clinically pristine this arrangement should work well for us.

Not only is there daylight in the new studio but there is also heating (and even a bit of basic ventilation). This means that the working environment is not only more pleasant for us but also more favourable to our materials. It is possible to have paper and fabric there without the worry of them getting mouldy or otherwise damaged. So all the stuff that I dared not have the old studio (finished pieces and raw material) can be moved out of my apartment and I will have a proper bedroom for the first time since moving to Sweden (in 2011)! For this and many other reasons it feels as though I am embarking on something that is very ‘grown-up’.


With the group show in London and the two-person show here not far off I am keen to get in and get on!


The new studio is going ahead! Klas signed the paperwork and now we are just waiting on getting the keys*. It is fantastic and is going to make a huge difference in my life – I cannot describe how much I am look forward to having somewhere decent to work. Just the thought of it makes me more determined to find ways to make my practice financially viable in and of itself. It might well be time to prioritise all those various funding avenues still available here in Sweden.

What I really need to be getting on with is preparing for the two upcoming shows.

One large hollow polystyrene ball (500mm diameter) ordered so that I can see how it looks glittered and work out how to hang it. It will be good to know how much it weighs when it’s covered in glitter … and how much glitter it takes to cover it!

Two more Hermés style scarves found in a local charity shop today. I need to pull together pictures of the pieces that I am interesting showing so that Klas and I can start to plan the show. The Hermés piece would be great in the garden!

My annual proofreading of the Supermarket art fair catalogue entries and magazine texts is almost completed. The task has been far easier this year as Alice, the project manager, has acted as editor so the majority of my work has been making simple corrections to English language and grammar – I have deleted what surely amounts to a sea of commas, Swedes seem to want one after at least every third word, whether, it requires one, or not. My reward for doing this unpaid work is getting a place on the fair’s Professional Networking Participants’ programme. I did this last year too and it was a great experience. I look forward to meeting with both existing and new colleagues over the four days of the fair.


*We are in now in discussion with a rather wonderful Swedish organisation that promotes and supports smaller reading/learning groups. They are interested in taking over the head-lease of the building, this would enable us to hire just our studios and if we run workshops or regular artist’s meetings we might even get a subsidy!


The possibility of a new studio is simultaneously good and shifting. The landlord and leasing agent (a local housing association) are keen for us to take over the lower ground floor rooms of an old school gymnastics hall – which with five or six artists would be very feasible. We are waiting to hear back from their management committee with further details – the rent, terms and conditions, time-scales, and so on. In the meantime a conversation between one of the artists and a local music promoter has revealed that there are several bands desperately looking for rehearsal rooms. The music promoter is now interested in renting space in the building. This is fine, except that the housing association has already told us that they only want one name on the contract and that they are not interested in letting to multiple parties.

If the music promoter takes on the whole building we could sublet from them (which massively reduces the amount of administration us artists would have to do – saving much time, energy, and money). However they are most interested in lower ground floor rooms, as they have previously been used as rehearsal spaces and the acoustics are known to be good. This would leave us artists with the terrifyingly large single room on the entry level – the former gymnastic hall itself. While this room would suit a group of sculptors or a group of painters it’s openness and six meter high ceiling is not good for artists working in different and incompatible materials – oil paint and woodwork are not good bedfellows with their respective slow to dry surfaces and inevitable dust.

I am trying not to think too much about it. But a couple of hours at the current studio earlier today reminded me how urgent it is to find somewhere more hospitable to work. The plastic greenhouse that I have put up makes is possible to keep warm however spending to long in there does lead to a rather strange feeling in the head – so it’s on with the coat, hat, gloves, and scarf for a bracing walk around the rest of the studio, but not the kitchen as the electrics have gone and it’s dark in there!


On the other hand it was very good to be there and to play with materials and ideas for the June show*. This afternoon I realised that materials that I had thought would be prefect for a new series of works were not at all right for it – they demand to be something else entirely. The material in question is a growing collection of women’s silk squares bearing Hermés-esque type prints (those ones with equestrian and leather bridle imagery). I had been thinking to make ‘flags’ – each one using four or six scarves. What quickly became apparent from laying out various designs was that the scarves work well as individual pieces, and they work well all together, however four or six just looks busy and wrong. Hanging the scarves around the inside of the greenhouse created a peculiar, though not unpleasant, atmosphere – somewhere between aspirational Wendy-house and Liberace’s hunting lodge. It was good fun and might well be the start of something else!

The idea of the flags is still very strong – I can see their design if not their exact material in my mind. On the way home from the studio I stopped in at a charity shop and bought an old cotton sheet, from the hand-woven lace detail I would guess that it is most likely from the 1940s or possibly older. Perhaps the flags, with their simple graphic references to heraldic shields, might work as monochromes made from noticeably aged and worn white sheets.




Belated birthday greetings blog – now you are eleven, hurrah hurrah hurrah!


*A very enjoyable Skype meeting with the curator of May’s London group show resolved most everything I am now clear about what I will be exhibiting and that I have time and space to make it in London in the two weeks before the opening.



Tomorrow Klas and I have another look at a potential new studio. I really want, and need, to find somewhere to settle and get on with making. Without such a place it is all to easy for me to fritter away the days when I am not working elsewhere – I truly admire artists who are able to produce work at their kitchen table or in the bedroom, and sometimes I even doubt that I am an artist as I am unable to do likewise. However I am old enough to recognise that I am the kind of person who needs specific places for specific tasks. I get annoyed with myself for being tempted to believe that artists can (almost ‘should’) produce work no matter the conditions. I need a degree of calm and order for me to be able to work – it is as simple, or as complex, as that. Here’s hoping that the space is as appealing on the second viewing!

Speaking of distractions and working practices – I am about to turn down some paid work in order to prioritise my own ‘unpaid’ work. This is not something that I find easy to do. It is important that I take myself and my own work seriously – not the first time I have said that but it is worth repeating. Nor is it a revelation that for my own practice to develop and succeed it requires nurturing. New Year is an appropriate time to try and establish new patterns and routines!

Getting my hopes and dreams out of my head and into the physical world is equally exciting and daunting. Perhaps now that I feel/am more established here in Enköping I can take that vital step. I feel very naive about the art world and have always been frightened to ask for help and advice, frightened of (more) rejection. Calling it an ethical-political decision I never approached commercial galleries as a young artist, and at the same time I failed to build an alternative support structure or network. So I have always depended on part-time and casual work to finance my practice, the reality is that the demands of that kind of work – regular time commitments and/or having to be available – are becoming increasingly challenging. I am delighted that I have a half-time contract (for the coming six months) with the arts department however not being free to pick and choose when I work is surprisingly frustrating. I might have created my own millstone with the ‘Creative Saturday’ workshops that both the council and the participants want me to run every week. I do not really understand why it is so complicated to get someone else to run the sessions when I am away or have other commitments.

[Saturday morning continuation ….]

It was good, in several ways, to make Thursday evening’s round of gallery openings in Stockholm. Firstly it was nice to catch-up with people who I do not see so regularly – even a quick ‘hello’ is enough to remind me how important it is to keep in touch with the wider world, and it’s lovely to know that people remember me. Secondly it was inspiring to see such a range of objects, ideas, ambitions, and ways be being an artist. After the Christmas holiday project with asylum seekers here in Enköping it made me smile to see a large papier-mâché sculpture at possibly the most academic of the commercial galleries. We worked with papier-mâché and it got me thinking about its viability as a more accessible and environmentally friendly alternative to other malleable materials (it is based on renewable, recycled and bi-products of the paper industry, and it does not need firing in a kiln for example). The size/scale of sculptural pieces also gave me food for thought. While I am excited about the possibility of working big, I can see that making work that is more modest in size might increase its saleability – at least while I remain an unknown artist. And there is no reason why a number of smaller pieces could not be used in an installation. Obviously there are advantages in terms of both time and materials in working on a small scale.

So with my head full of thoughts about making seeing the potential for a good studio on the lower ground floor of an old school gym was very exciting. The whole building is owned by the council’s sister property company who had hoped to turn it in to flats, however it’s listed status prevents its facade being altered by additional windows, and therefore severely limits its residential potential. After looking around Klas and I discussed how other parts of the building would make a great spaces for the council’s plans to develop creative arts education and vocational training in the crafts. We just need to find the ‘right’ way to sell the idea to our unnecessarily cautious council!

Returning to thoughts about my own practice and feeling settled here in Enköping – it seems to be the right time to be a little more active in my approaches to both work and materials. Many years ago my dear friend Sheila commented that it took her about three years to get going every time she moved home and/or studio (it was a period when she moved quite regularly and often). This year will be my third in Enköping and I am aware that I have a sense of (all pervasive) confidence that I have not had for some time.

I think that 2018 is going to be a good year!