In a quest to keep warm this winter at the Florence Trust, my fellow artists and I have constructed individual plastic roofs above our studio spaces. It started off slowly, but now all but one artist is under plastic. While it could be argued that they result in the lose of ambience and scale of the building, it is incredibly cold, the coldest cold I have experienced. Now with a roof I’m no longer needing to wear head to toe thermals, 4 pairs of trousers and numerous t-shirts, jumpers and coats. It actually makes a pleasant working environment, a warm bubble in an otherwise ice cold, but beautiful grade 1 listed building.
It’s been said amongst my fellow artists that each roof shows a bit of its owners personally, that’s certainly complimentary for the good ones, Justin Eagle, Alan Magee and Makihara have built striking and considered structures. While reading too much into my roof could describe someone a bit slap dash and heavily creased..
Anyway, the said roofs didn’t go unnoticed at the Open studio in January which resulted in some lovely photos from visitor Rachael Marshall, a selection of which can be seen below.
For further images of the Florence Trust’s very own shanty town take a look at Rachael’s Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/52516199@N02/sets/72157625973029271/
My current working practice comes from collecting images from the man made landscape, these forms have been set along the bank of the Thames and while I’m fascinated by their shapes and construction I also have a close affinity with the river itself. As a form of research I have been going on long walks along stretches of the river to take photos but also to learn more about the lay of the city and its flux. The architecture, history and potential for redevelopment is clear to see wherever your standing. Much to the west of Vauxhall has already been turned into new river side apartments, Butler’s Wharf and the central stretch of the southbank has kept its old facade but seen Starbucks and the chains take over at street level. While areas on the approach to Deptford Creek are showing signs of decay but the developers are not far away. Whatever is happening around the river bank, the one constant is the river itself, it continues to have an air of tranquility and open space, the perfect place to explore and clear your head.
I’ve started to document my walks on Googlemaps –
So the winter open (studios) came and went at the Florence Trust, it was an interesting experience and very different to previous open studios that I’ve been part of. Unlike other open studios it’s not optional, everyone takes part so the whole church is opened up to the public to explore, which also means all the junk and debris that’s been collected over the previous 5 months has to be stowed away. Since I have been working at a small scale at the FT my studio space has been very ordered with a few piece on the go worked on flat at the desk, and completed works on the wall. It didn’t take much to sort through but I decided to give the walls a lick of paint and hang the canvases straight and level.
A couple of days before the opening I received a tip off from fellow resident artist Alan Magee about a molding wooden tripod devise (see photos in previous post) stored round the back of the church. It just so happens thats its almost the splitting image of the subject of my paintings, with a bit of exertion and lots of mud and mold on my jeans I managed to drag it into my studio space for further inspection. It seems to be a sculptors stand with an adjustable height rotating top, after a closer look I made out the name of the previous owner, or at least the person who claimed it. It was in the care of someone who had been at the FT at least 10 years ago and for all I know could have been rotting away ever since. While it is extremely similar to my paintings I couldn’t resist using it as a floor piece for the open studio, I guess it may have suggested that the subject of the paintings could have been more of a domestic scale than they are in truth but its this kind of ambiguity within the image that I’ve been pushing myself.
The open studio was also the first time I’ve showed a couple of new pieces i’ve been working on which will be unleashed to the world in a couple of weeks time, so for all those that couldn’t make it I’m afraid I’ll have to leave it at that for now. Except to say it’s given me an opportunity to work in a different way to how I have previously and the results are superb. As part of it had to do a video interview at the studio yesterday which will compliment these pieces and give a little tour of my studio and new works. After my initial worry about looking silly or not being able to “perform” for the camera I’m pleased to say it went far better than I expected and hopefully with some magic editing and airbrushing its be a nice polished piece of film. (I did ask if we could motion capture my movements and get a voiceover artist to read from a script but unfortunately the budget wasn’t there)
As with any exhibition opening there was far too many people to speak to, some faces i’ve not seen for ages as well as interesting chats with some new ones. The feedback was very good and it’s been an excuse to stop what we’ve all been working away at and really look over it and take stock of our progress. Since the open studio I have slowly got back into my routine and made some adjustments to my studio, I’ve moved my desk, brought in a carpet and suddenly it feels very homely so much so that I’ve had a week of long days and evenings making myself comfy and ready to make some more work.
Part of this preparation was making some new canvases from the many old ones I seem to take from studio to studio. I’ve chosen a few sizes which have come out well recently, perhaps these will become a standard for me? 10 x 8″, 10 x 14″ & 20 1/2 x 14 1/2″. Many of my new paintings are on a fantastic smooth polyester which is primed 6 times in the factory so it barely has any tooth (grain) however its massively expensive which has meant i’ve only been using it on smaller canvases. I used to work on cotton priming it with acrylic which won’t take the resin ground as well as the polyester probably as its too coarse and absorbent. For Christmas I brought myself some rabbit skin glue, oil primer and thixotropic alkyd to attempt to get a smoother and thicker surface which would solve my dilemma with the large canvases. A job that I would have previously found tiresome, actually became very relaxing despite the extra effort – applying two coats of rabbit skin glue followed by two of either oil or alkyd, so much so that it became a bit of a production line. Its always nice to have canvases ready and waiting, although perhaps I went a bit too far as I now have over 20 waiting in 4 different sizes but at least I won’t have an excuse not to get started. If these small tests work then hopefully I will be able to work at a large scale with confidence if I decide to do so again in the future.
When I started the residency I decided that I wanted to produce a large coherent body of work from the year, something which I wasn’t able to do in my previous studio working a full time job. Each painting seemed to differ from the last and they didn’t sit as well together, where as now I can view all my paintings together and consider them as a series. I think that I’m on track and the more I produce the more fussy and selective I can be with whats come before. As we’re at the half way point its a good time to cement the ideas which have worked and also test out some new things, I’m also considering making some sculptural pieces as a companion piece to the paintings perhaps inspired by the rotting sculptors stand?