This was a really interesting day. I started with a visit to the absolutely magnificent Brooklyn Library. Brooklyn is a very large area with several sub-libraries but this is their main library.

Brooklyn Library was initially initiated in the 1800’s as reading rooms and the current building was opened in 1941, designed by Raymond F. Almirall. The entrance and other areas were redeveloped in 2005 to create a new auditorium.

Following this visit, I went to the Dumbo area of Brooklyn, which is nearer the Brooklyn Bridge. I went to meet artist Joseph Buckley, who did a residency at The Tetley, Leeds after me last year in their studio. Joseph is originally from Leeds but has married a US citizen following his MFA at Yale, and is now based in New York.

We met at his solo show, Traitor Muscle, at Art in General, which features really powerful sculptures and poetry within an installation and poetry, which was an extension of the work in his solo show at The Tetley.

It was really interesting to talk to Joseph about his experiences of working as an artist in New York. He lives slightly out of the city but supplements his income as an artist well by assisting artists. He finds it a supportive environment with artist peers with room to grow and experiment. Joseph also kindly introduced me to their director Laurel Ptak who is also running a residency programme, so it was really interesting to hear about their experiences.

Joseph told me about a few local galleries. I particularly enjoyed the work at Smack Mellon, which featured really incredible wall drawings/ collages by Paula Wilson in the show; Spread Wild: Pleasures of the Yucca. Equally really strong in the second gallery space was an exhibition of drawings and sculptural ceramics by Luisa Caldwell; A Cat in God’s Garden. A wonderful light and spacious exhibition space too. I really like the look of their programme and I will be following them from now on.

Following this, I looked at a few apartment buildings from the 1930s in Brooklyn which were very spread apart so I only managed t0 cover a 2-3. I took the train down to Coney Island, which as a seaside town enthusiast was recommended that I could not miss. Unfortunately, it was off season and mid week and this meant that all the attractions were closed. However, you could see the majority of the fun park, buildings and rides and could get a feel for the place. Despite the very cold weather, there was a lady swimming, brave!

In New York entry to large municipal galleries can be very expensive, especially coming from the UK, so most offer free entry at some point in the month to increase access for those that cannot afford it. Brooklyn Museum offers free entry every Thursday evening, and there is also usually a free talk in their atrium on Thursday evenings also.

Brooklyn Museum is a large art museum that has several collection exhibitions as well as touring and time specific shows. During my visit, I got to see the exhibition which was on tour from Tate; Soul of a Nation – Art in the Age of Black Power, and Half the Picture: A Feminist Look at The Collection. Additionally seeing the textile based installations by Perfect Home II by Do Ho Suh, and the Dinner Party by Judy Chicago was incredible. These were both artworks I have looked at many times in books and online, and it was such a wonderful opportunity to see them in the flesh to see all their detail and experience them in physical space.

The day was ended by meeting with Kari Cholnoky and her partner Dante, who is also an artist. They are both based in Brooklyn, and also supplement their income working as assistants to artists. I met Kari last year at The Fountainhead Residency, as she was leaving just before I arrived and I attended her open studio. I was really taken with her incredibly expressive sculptural work which comprises many objects, prints and paints in a highly textured collage-like manner.

Joseph Buckley http://jbxviii.co.uk/

Kari Cholnoky http://www.karicholnoky.com/index.html





I’ve been following the fantastic residencies, workshops and programmes of Women’s Studio Workshop online for several years, and seem many artists I admire, including Emily Speed, undertake residencies with exciting results, so I really wanted to visit there while in New York.

Women’s Studio Workshop is based in Rosendale, in upstate New York. Without a car the only way to get there is by coach, about 2 hours from Port Authority Bus Terminal. It’s a really pleasant ride through many small towns, and I loved looking at the varying type of architecture which is so different to the UK.

The whole trip was very nostalgic as the last time I was at Port Authority Bus Terminal and in upstate New York was the summer of 2001 when I was an Arts and Crafts teacher at a Summer Camp in upstate New York. It was a great summer in the outdoors, exploring, visiting new places and the day reminded me of many happy memories.

Reminiscing aside, the WSW (as I will call it from now on) has an excellent location within Rosendale which is quiet, peaceful and within the centre of many walking trails. I walked from the bus stop (although they were kindly offered to collect and drive me) to their building through the wood there and back which was a delight after all the New York ‘city energy’ in me.

Erin Zona, their director met me and showed me around their amazing facilities and residency programme. In the last 12 months, they had completed an extension and refurbishment which has taken several years in total from start to finish. The making processes, and level of equipment are incredibly impressive – intaglio, relief, paper, bookmaking, screen printing, as well as digital and ceramic workshops. They also have beautiful new gallery spaces and project spaces to host exhibitions of artists in residence and those visiting for education and events.

On the day I visited education programmes were in full flow. Local high school students were working with resident artists in the printmaking and papermaking workshops. From a quick look, the work was at a very high level for teenagers. It is such a great experience for the local students interested in art to have close access to artists, individual techniques and such high-quality printmaking facilities. It must impact them immeasurably during their choices during school and after.

The WSW run a rolling programme for interns where they do a national call out to apply. All interns receive accommodation and a fee.

Erin and I discussed the ways in which they finance their residency programmes and the facilities themselves. They run a series of fundraising initiatives every year, and sales of artist books made at WSW are very important. Erin showed me their archive of artist books and talked about how they work hard for their artist books to be purchased in gallery collections.

Residency programmes run annually with opportunities always notified on their website. They currently run Artist Book residencies, Artist in Education residencies, Parent residencies and a variety of studio and printmaking residencies with a variety of level of funding. You can find more details of their residencies here – https://wsworkshop.org/

It was also useful to talk to Erin about the logistics of how they run their residency, as we are currently in the process of planning for our own international residency programme at Rogue Artist Studios and Project Space. We are at the initial stages but hope to be up and running within the next year or so.

Thanks to WSW for welcoming and letting me see their incredible community and facilities. It was a very inspiring day and gave me much to think about in terms of my own work and our residency programme as it begins.




I took the free ferry over to Staten Island to visit the Island and the examples of 1930’s architecture that were outlined on the Art Deco Society’s Registry Map. This is a good opportunity to see the Statue of Liberty, and the ferries are very regular there and back – you don’t have to wait at all.

I spent a long time walking the coastline of Staten Island, which is very large in itself, and is off and across the tip of Manhattan. Along the coast the areas are very different, varying from very industrial, with derelict buildings and wasteland, to hilly shopping areas, to very large mansion type houses at the top of the hill on the island.

The first building I went to see was the Electric Cinema which was about a 25 minute walk from the ferry port in what now seems quite an industrial area. The cinema is now empty, unused and looks very much like it is falling apart internally and externally.

A highlight of the architecture on Staten Island was an apartment block which was situated in one of the hillier areas of Staten Island. Just out of nowhere you come across this majestic building with elaborate swirls, pattern and detailing. The architecture near to it is quite conservative and plain, wooden style housing, so it seems quite out of place, up a hill.

On the same day I took the ferry back to the Manhattan port, and transferred to the Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty ferry, which costs $18 for both which is pretty good value. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit Liberty Island on that day too, as both islands close sharply at 5pm, but you get a pretty good view of Lady Liberty as the boat drops off on the way there to Ellis Island.

Ellis Island was the immigration point for oceanliners entering the US, where potential immigrants had their papers, health and history checked before they were allowed entry to New York. Between 1892 and 1954, over 12 million immigrants entered through this island.

The island still has the majority of the original buildings intact, thanks to a volunteer preservation and fundraising drive, which included a large hospital to treat immigrants with infectious diseases, many of which spread on the journey from their homeland.

The Ellis Island Immigration museum is located within the main immigration station where people were assessed. Much of the interior architecture such as fixings, tiling, windows and door frames are still intact with the narrative displays situated in the middle of each room. This gives you a feel on the institutional, somewhat cold entry to the new promised land.

The museum itself tells in great detail the experience of an immigrant entering Ellis Island, and the different stages of this process in a very informative and thorough way, with visuals, audio, original artefacts, text and films.

The museum successfully depicts the experience of the hopeful immigrants to the ‘Island of Hope and Tears’, as it was so known then. Everyone would arrive exhausted and often malnourished from a very long passage on an ocean liner leaving family and the familiar homeland.

Each and every person would be inspected in all aspects of their being from health to criminal history. Sometimes people would be detained on the island for months due to lingering illnesses or an extended trial to decide whether they should be allowed entry to the country.

Although those detained were lonely and living with uncertainty, the conditions were said to be good as they were fed well three times a day, and kept clothed and warm. When it was time to leave Ellis Island and enter New York, there were numerous organisations for different nationalities and religions, that helped people make their way in the brave new world, with clothing support, financial aid and advisory groups.

A small proportion of people very denied entry and had to return on the very long journey on ocean liners to their homeland.  From the documentation on occupations, Ellis Island was the route for working and lower middle classes to the USA, upper middle classes it seems were not subjected to these checks and scrutiny.

A very interesting exhibition was the promotional material that was used to advertise moving to the USA in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and how this change in circumstances would impact on your life. A large proportion of immigrants came from Ireland and mainland Europe, which were economically struggling at the time.

I spent around 4 hours within the museum and the island, also looking at the 1930s Ferry Terminal, and there was still very much more to look at in relation to the experience of those immigrating to the USA. There are multiple rooms and archives within which you can trace routes, ocean liners, and genealogy. Unfortunately, the museum closes sharp at 5pm and you must embrak the last ship at 5.15pm back to downtown Manhattan. Defintely one to return and they also have great online resources.




Straight after the Empire State, I had a full on day visiting 1930s skyscrapers in downtown Manhattan. Next up was the New Yorker Hotel, which fitted as did many in this wedding cake tiered style of design, with larger building space at the bottom, getting narrower and narrower as the building reaches upwards.

The 43 storey New Yorker Hotel was designed in 1929 by Morris Henry Sugarman, opening in 1930. The Hotel has some exquisite outdoor details, as are the elevator doors in the lobby and the elevator entrance, and some, again tiered light fittings. There was a really interesting exhibition on the lower floor with ephemera such as invitations, menus, photographs and promotional material from the hotel over the years which was really useful for me to see the hotel in its peak years.

Nearby, I visited the Rockefeller Center, which is an incredible, spectacular complex of buildings with extravagant foyers, interiors and relief facades with art deco details in colours. There were originally 14 ‘art deco’ office buildings built in the 1930s, and further buildings were constructed in the 1960s and 1970s. The original buildings sit around a sunken square, where they have the ice rink in the winter, and a very large Christmas tree (it was a pumpkin display when I was there!). There is also a very impressive underground pedestrian area and shopping area.

The most impactful façade relief is 30 Rockefeller Plaza, which shows the Christian biblical verse from Isaiah 33:6, ‘Wisdom and Knowledge shall be the stability of they times’, that has the relief mural of the man striking lighting. The man represents Wisdom, which is also the works title, and was created by Lee Lawrie, a well known architectural sculptor in the US. Wisdom is considered to be the creative power of the universe over humankind. There are two works by Lawrie on either side of this; Sound and Light.

All around the original complex are elaborate façade details on doorways, exits and entrance. The building complex was commissioned by John D Rockefeller Jnr, and he commissioned architectural groups  Corbett, Harrison & MacMurray; Hood, Godley & Fouilhoux; and Reinhard & Hofmeister, to design the buildings. Unusually, the architects all worked as ‘associated architects’ so none of the buildings can be attributed to one architect, however I wonder if you research further into the history of the design this could be identified more. It is a very complex ‘symposium’ of buildings with multi-layered history of design and intention, and it is an area I would like to return to, to research about more which would take a bit more time than available on this trip.

Also within the Rockefeller complex, the Radio City Music Hall also has taken the elaborate detailed facades of 1930s buildings for decoration. After visiting, I have seen images of the stage of the building and it looks incredible. The tours were unavailable on the day I viewed the exterior and foyer, but again I would love to return and spend more time there.

I also took a look at the Fuller Building, designed in 1929, by Walker and Gillette and unusually, brick and terracotta Chanin Building, designed by Sloan and Robertson.

I was most excited to visit the Chrysler Building, as I had never visited its interior before, which is incredible. Similar to the Empire State Building, the interior is incredibly elaborate with expensive materials. Designed in by architect William Van Alen for the Chrysler Corporation in 1930. The triangular shaped lobby is quite something. The walls are lined with African Red Granite, and unusual lighting and fittings are dotted around the intimate, atmospheric foyer. A ceiling mural, titled Transport and Human Endeavour by Edward Turnbull, is painted in the shape of a Y and celebrates the aviation and the machine age.

Nearby is the Waldorf Astoria, which I had looked at many photographs online before and was designed by Schultze and Weaver in 1929. Unfortunately, the building is very much in a shell type state at the moment as it is currently undergoing refurbishment. I didn’t know this in advance, but it was also interesting to see what windows that have been unwashed on a building in New York look like for a year or so – very dirty!

There was so much to take in this day. It was exhausting but exhilarating and I’d now like to spend some time reading more about all of the buildings I have seen in person.


I visited New York and Miami over the last two weeks, and made the very most of every moment whilst I was there, so I am writing these blog posts on reflection. This is also helping me process everything I saw and experienced and consider how I could use this information moving forward.

I had six full days in New York which was a good amount of time to cover my aims for the research, but I planned very carefully in advance arranging meetings, scheduling visits and travel timings between locations so that I could make the most of each day. Each day I was out by 8 am and usually not back by 10ish to maximise opening hours!

The first day I rose very early due to time differences (New York is 5 hours behind UK) and was at the Empire State Building by 8 am. I’d recommend going at this time – there are no queues but some British tourists!

The first day I had planned to visit Manhattan 1930s buildings. Using the Art Deco Society of New York Online Directory (I’d recommend this) I traced routes in advance to see the ‘power’ buildings constructed in what we now call the ‘art deco’ period to make this most efficient route and to not miss anything.

I have visited the Empire State Building before, about 15 years ago but not for research purposes. They have now built a new entrance around the other side of the building for a quicker and more spacious entry. Therefore the iconic entrance foyer is not viewed until you have gone up the building and on your exit. The tickets are not cheap but there are two exhibitions included in the cost, and the whole experience is run slickly similarly to embarking a Disneyland ride.

The Empire State Building was designed by Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, and completed in 1931. The building was commissioned by Empire State Inc, a business venture that involved businesses and former New York Governor Al Smith. When completed it was taller than the Chrysler Building and 40 Wall Street, and was the worlds tallest building until the construction of the World Trade Center in 1970. ‘Empire State’ was a nickname for New York, I’m not sure if this is still a common name, but talks about the idea of New York as being the centre of everything.

It is obviously one of the most popular ‘art deco’ buildings in New York, mentioned hundreds of times in film, tv and popular culture, and a heavily visited tourist destination.

The exhibition half way up explains the construction, design, symbolism and life of the Empire State through photography and information boards. The lift up and walkways within the buildings are incredibly ornate and decorative, even and especially by today’s standards. On the main viewing platform, you can take in views of the city of skyscrapers, and the Empire State’s neighbours; the Chrysler, General Electric Building, One World Trade Center. It’s an epic view, filled of upward ambition, hope for attainment, crammed into what is a relatively small area.

The true delight for me was accessing the lobby on departure. The well-known mural shows the magnificent Empire State radiating light across the sky with the map of nearby states below. Every aspect of the installation is considered from the marble floors, walls, ceilings and doorways, it is one of the most elaborate, proudly outwardly powerful spaces I have ever been in.