One of my favorite studios was in a former Bally shoe factory in Norwich. The self contained room was a former white collar space complete with a deep pile cream carpet. It used to cause much amusement with visiting artists and curators. It was entirely comfortable and appropriate for the work i was producing at the time. The downside was its context which was distracting; I would spend hours walking the various halls and offices, documenting and thinking about what the equipment would have looked and sounded like, the content of the work conversations and the divisions of labour. Floor markings and signage were intriguing relics of what once had been a thriving industry.
Notice to quit was issued about 4 years ago and the building cleared of all creative inhabitants. Recently the building was reduced to rubble with a newspaper article showing the people, machines and the divisions of labour i had long pondered about. The site is now getting ready for the construction of a supermarket. Now that’s an idea worthy of consideration, artists taking over former supermarkets, just think of the scale.
Reflecting on my visit to Polly Cruse’s studio, my own work space is about as far from the domestic as i can get it. I don’t have a kettle – I can’t begin the entertain the idea of making tea when there. Its too domestic and inevitably involves bringing a small amount of milk from home, usually in a once used disposable water bottle which is something, without being too melodramatic, I dread. When I host studio visits, bottles of water are provided and advice notices issued to visitors to bring hot drinks if desired. A short walk to a local cafe also offers an opportunity to have a dialogue about the work, away from it, after the studio visit is concluded.
In addition to the avoidance of the domestic as far as possible I also leave connectivity behind also. I stopped taking my laptop to the studio, it was too heavy to carry and the temptation to read and draft emails too great. I have no internet connection there so browsing for research purposes is also avoided. I have read about authors who have dedicated computers for writing novels on. These machines have no internet facility and so the work process can be a focused and hopefully productive.
An office space at home provides me with a clear space where the digital work takes place and emails are read and sent. Back and forth I carry work, sometimes the portfolio’s lay on the office floor where they are left only to be picked up a few days later and taken back to the studio. Even though it may seem pointless endeavor its an activity I can’t seem to get out of the habit of doing.