When I finally gave up my studio space in Hackney, after almost 20 years of happy habitation, I knew that it would be greatly missed. For the first ten of those years, my small bolt hole in Victor House became much more than just a place where I went to work. I ate there, read there, wrote there and even slept there sometimes, bundling myself up in as many layers as I could find in a vain attempt to keep the cold at bay. The lack of insulation is one thing that I knew I wouldn’t miss.
When I met my wife and life began to take shape, my studio stopped being my home from home and became a more focused place. With a few notable exceptions, I think that’s when my artwork really began.
Our first child arrived in 2012, and time became a much more precious commodity, so my brief interludes at Victor House were few and far between. I tried bringing my baby daughter to the studio so that I could work while she slept, but the majority of my working practices at the time were noisy and smelly and not really conducive to childcare.
Then we moved further East – away from Hackney – and bought a house. Our monthly bills went up, and I realised that I couldn’t put it off any longer. The studio was cleared of 19 years of accumulated artefacts and detritus, and the next chapter began.
For the last 3 years I’ve been working in the spare bedroom on the top floor of our house, with the messy business of carpentry and sanding carried out in the garden when weather permits. It’s a pretty good set up, but it’s a very small space and the walls are closing in.
I’ve had a productive year, and my new paintings are stacked up ever-more precariously around my six-foot square garret. Painting anything substantial requires some careful juggling of work surfaces and the idea of producing a series of big paintings, as I used to do in my old studio, is not currently an option.
But all that may soon be about to change.
After a lot of thought and many weeks of design and planning (and with huge thanks to Rob Hopps of The Hopps Partnership in Wanstead), plans have finally been submitted for a new studio space, conveniently located at the end of our garden. If our plans are approved (and we can find the cash to make it happen), then our new building will be part studio, part workshop, part office – with a yoga space thrown in for good measure (and for marital harmony).
Exciting times (and big, big paintings) ahead.
One of the things that I’ve missed most since giving up my studio space, is the opportunity to open the studio doors and welcome the world in. Our open weekends at Victor House were always enjoyable and were a great way to meet fellow artists, collectors and art lovers in general.
In less than two weeks, for the first time since I left Hackney, I’ll be holding an open house weekend, to try and emulate that open studio spirit, but from the comfort of my own home. I have an awful lot to do, but a deadline always focuses the mind and I’m looking forward to having a lot of new work framed and hung for our big weekend.
I really hope you can join us – details are below and can be found here. If I can sell enough paintings, maybe next year there will be a bit more space to explore…
Thanks for reading.
Open House Weekend
26 Clavering Road, London E12 5EX
Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th December, 1-5 pm.