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.