This years Florence Trust artists have their exhibition opening this week which marks the end of their year spent at St Saviours. The private view is the same night as my WW Gallery Patio Project opening which had left me in a tricky position of trying to be in two places at once, thankfully we’ve decided to have my opening from 6-7pm with the viewing party then going on mass to the Florence Trust. Following my brilliant time at the Florence Trust (it was my turn this time last year) I can highly recommend the summer show as a place to discover dynamic and engaging work in a stunning grade one listed building.
Its been 6 months since I finished my residency at the Florence Trust and this Friday sees the first opportunity for this years artists to show their work to the masses. I’ve met a number of FT 2012 artists and can’t wait to go back to see the place and catch up with artists old and new. If you’ve not been I highly recommend a visit to this stunning building in a leafy part of north London. I recently met this years Florence Trust Axis Bursary artist Hanae Utamura at the London Art fair where she described how she’s used her studio as a large evolving installation rendered in layers of paint and plastic. While Ben Woodeson will no doubt be challenging health and safety regs in a new and nerve inducing way. Not to be missed.
Its been two weeks since the Florence Trust exhibition finished which signaled the end of my year long residency at St Saviour’s. Since then I’ve found myself in and around the studio quite a bit which while empty of my belongings, still had a hold over my time. After such a full on and immersive year it was sad to hand my keys back but as I move on a new set of artists arrive to start their own journeys.
I came to the Florence Trust as an artist looking to experience full time practice, to create time away from the constraints of paid work to see what I could achieve over the course of a year. The appeal of doing this at a residency such as the FT was the support network of fellow artists as well as the studio manager and director, something to ease me in to a new way of working, which isn’t usually available in large closed off studio spaces. On a personal note I’m happy with the shift i’ve seen my practice take in the last year and I believe this really is down to having consistency of thought from day after day at the studio, along with a heap of messing around with paint. But my overriding memories of the FT are the people and the space, being there really made me aware that I am part of lineage of artists who have been using the studios over the past 20 years. But is one dependent on the other? While the space is truly inspiring, beautiful and impossible to hide from, its the group of 11 very different artists coming together who made the experience. As a group consisting of multiple nationalities and artistic backgrounds it was our shared journey through the year that brought people together. Ongoing independent practice may consume the individual but the openness of the studios and communal areas created a schedule for dialogue and banter at lunches, tea breaks and social activities. The changes of seasons and the setting in of winter, while tough was a great catalyst for togetherness and a competitive survival instinct, demonstrated perfectly with varying approaches to polyethylene roof building. The end of winter and the start of spring brought new optimism to the studios with the gardens and wildlife becoming a bigger part of everyday life, our winter film club and pub quizzes turned to BBQ’s and beers.
The Basel trip while very near to the end exhibition came as a perfect remedy from possible studio blues and as we all knew each other so well by then was a fun filled trip away with friends. Once back we had two weeks of prepping the space for the exhibition, taking down the 3 central studios opened up the space and highlighted the architecture of the building, perhaps making a strong exhibition even more of a challenge. Thankfully in my opinion and those of many visitors it was a great success for which thanks should go to Paul Bayley (FT Director) for his problem solving and vision for how 11 different artist’s work could sit and read so well together. With a years worth of life on display I wanted to spend as much time at the show as possible invigilating. Talking with visitors about my fellow artists work opened up more readings of their work and created some interesting dialogue. I was happy with the response to my work, we had a huge opening night with far too many people to squeeze chats in with and delighted that a few of my works have now taken their place in a private collection in Italy.
Its been an absolute pleasure to have been able to spend time alongside each of my fellow artists, to watch their working practices up close and share their excitement over future projects and opportunities. If you want to keep an eye on the FT 2011 Artists you can find out more about their work and links to personal websites here.
So whats next for me? Well firstly a bit of a break is in order. Whereas before this year it was a treat to get time in the studio, now it feels like one if I have a day away. With the realities of life once again at my door I will endeavor to seek a better live / (art) work balance to move forward with. The cost of London living makes everything feel like a compromise but if I take anything from this experience its just reinforced my desire to continue doing what i’m doing as much as I can. In the short term I’m going to be sans studio with my paintings and studio packed safely in storage, however I have got some ideas for a series of prints which I will be experimenting with in the meantime. There are also tentative plans on a building which maybe made into studios for myself and a few of the FT 2011 artists, it has the potential to be an amazing studio in another interesting period property, but until more discussions take place I’ll say no more.
I plan to get my curating/organizing head back on and push forward a few projects which have been on the back burner this year. One of those, a 3 person show with FT2011 artist Adam Watts and Peter Ainsworth is coming together nicely and we’re now seeking the right kind of space to exhibit in. I’d also love to do a solo show with the new work some day soon and imagine that the prints could fit nicely with the works on canvas. I’m excited to find time to take in more exhibitions in London having been out of the loop of late, I was blown away by Piccadilly Community Center Christoph Büchel’s immense installation at Hauser & Wirth last week and I still vividly remember his show at the Coppermill off Brick Lane in 2007. Through writing this and summing up it all suddenly feels very final, but far from it, the rigour and dialogue of the FT is something I will be looking to keep with me for the next stage.
Maya is one of my fellow FT artists and the recipient of the Axis studio bursary, she’ll be blogging on her experiences throughout the year, going on her activity so far, much more regularly than me. Its an interesting read and she really sums up the scale and magic of the building, so for an alternative view on life at St Saviours keep an eye out for her latest posts –