Studio Build FIVE

Week Four in the Studio:

The start of this week was very cold. This has caused me to think very clearly about the things I want to do and work quickly when I’ve decided. Ten minutes of inactivity can mean my hands are too cold to hold a hammer and a paintbrush has no chance. So there is a cup of tea on the go almost continually. Today my biggest expense will have been boiling the kettle.

back wall with text, charcoal

back wall with text, charcoal

I first wrote out the text I wanted on the piece using charcoal and white conté. The words are from TS Eliot’s ‘Burnt Norton’, where he contemplates time and the loss engendered by presence, this is the closest I have got so far to the ghosts I’m exorcising in the work as a whole. The insistence of the birds drawing you into the garden resonates.

corner outlined lettering

corner outlined lettering

I managed to paint in the letters in black, white and grey, before working over them with the paint thinned down and tearing some of the collaged paper. Then I had to stop to allow the work to dry and the cold drove me home!

Wednesday visit from Axis Web and DMBC rates assessment, they check to see the space is being used for the purpose stated and confirm the rebate/exemption. Apparently councils vary in their interpretations.

I opened the fire door for the first time to look at the back of the unit and so I could collect some leaves.

looking right out the back

looking right out the back

looking left out the back

looking left out the back

The river is a few metres away.

I have an idea for a curtain of leaves towards one of the corners of the space, not enough to create a barrier but enough to provide a visual disturbance. I can’t decide between this and a scattering, in the air, of leaves throughout the space. To facilitate this I set out to stretch some fishing line, I have no idea if this will work, but the straighter it is the more it disappears.

stretching fishing line

stretching fishing line

I also collected some leaves and set them out to dry.

120 birch leaves

120 birch leaves

I’ll paint them with PVA when they’re dry to preserve the colour as much as possible.

After this I mixed some white emulsion down with PVA and water to paint out some areas of the drawing, I feel the text needs to disappear to a large extent, and the space needs to become whiter. I then worked back into some areas with Indian ink thus negating the work I’d done to lighten the space. It’s in that flux state now where it will either coalesce into a convincing whole or collapse into a horrible mess.

corner painted in

corner painted in

end of Wednesday

end of Wednesday

This week has been shortened as I am also preparing for the Doncaster Art Fair on Sunday, so this video shows the work at the end of Wednesday.


Studio Build FOUR

Week Three in the Studio.

Worked on stabilising the big table for the 10” saw. Bought fishing line and tried a leaf to see hoe it worked in the space. I’ll need to stretch the line out so it hangs straighter.

Collaged elements onto the big drawing using PVA diluted 50/50 with water. The idea is that the bubbles will be split and torn when the glue is dry and text has been applied over the top.

Decided I needed the extra panel filling in and a small door added, I’ve made it 60” so you have to stoop to get inside.

Construction involved breaking down the easel I made as I needed the wood and I can’t stretch paper here until the weather is better. Once completed and fitted I painted the new panel and door.

The large drawing looks like this as a whole

Whole drawing flattened

Whole drawing flattened

Studio Build THREE

Week Two in the new studio.

Monday 12th November, built a step and a 80mm platform to allow me to work up high, stretched forty metres of nylon cord across the space just off centre, to the right of the entrance. Tightened some of the hardboard with extra screws.

Wednesday14th November, started the drawing in the big space, outline first and then charcoal.

The charcoal sections treated differently for each one.

Also put the heating on in the little office to dry out the stretched paper. The electricity usage went from 283 KWh to 299 KWh and the board was still not fully stretched after that. That’s £3.20 worth of heat, it was like a sauna in there. It means I won’t be doing any drawing on stretched paper here.

Friday I worked with blackboard paint and white emulsion to build up the interior. I also made a light fitting for the space as it gets dark early.

whole drawing expanded

whole drawing expanded

The whole drawing, as near as I can replicate it, looks like this. In progress, there is a long way to go, collage elements next.

This last video has the emulsion sections added with the light on. There is still a long way to go before I begin to add the interactive elements.


Studio Build TWO

Studio 071118

A full day at the studio. A full day means arriving at 11:00 and leaving at 15:50, I am retired after all.

First off I stretched the paper in the foreground, I’ll be interest to see how this dries given the lack of heating and fabulous ventilation. The time is an hour ahead on this photo, I couldn’t be arsed to change the time when the clocks went back. I moved on to constructing the panels for part one of the installation.

I cut all the wood first, twenty eight short lengths and then moved onto assembling the panels. I got the timing down to fifteen minutes a panel when my portable drill finally charged up. Before that I was putting the screws in by hand, each panel has eight 100mm bullets and fourteen 25mm bullets. The photographs illustrate the very simple production line approach.

An aside for today about the electricity. The supplier is e-on and their standard tariff is around 15.75 pence per KWh. The meter read 277 when I took possession and read 283 after today’s work. The advantage of having only one socket to power everything from.

The video is here so you can hear the noise the rain makes on the corrugated roof.

Friday 9th November. Arrive at 10:45 am with a view to completing as much of the structure as I can. Obviously someone has been in on Thursday as the lights come on when I enter the building. As it’s Axisweb’s rental I have to accept access by them and the landlord without prior notice. This could be either and maybe I won’t see the visitor I’m expecting today.

I made eight frames today to add to the six from Wednesday, each frame uses 4×2.4m C16 CLS 3×2 (48x75mm) at £3.10 each length and one sheet of whiteface hardboard at £7.75, so £20.16 per frame plus screws. Eight 100mm bullets costs about £1.70 and sixteen 25mm bullets are 23 pence. So £22.09 x 14 is £309.20 for the whole assembly. You could say £310.00 including the electricity.

I’ve got one spare frame to test the surfaces for the internal finish and I’m still toying with having a door. There are also a few spots that will need extra screws to lie flatter. You can also see how dark it is, 15:30 in November.

Here ends week one of the new studio!

Studio 091118

Studio Build ONE

This is the new studio I got through Axisweb. A 2,800 sq. ft. light industrial unit for £30 per month. Obviously it’s not only my studio but I am the only one in it at the moment. The space is the biggest I’ve had access to for a good while and has come at a good time for me.

I have been working towards building an environment, with interactive elements, since 2005 when I completed my MA. I was always stymied by the need to earn a living leading to a lack of space and time. Now that I’m retired I have the time but didn’t have the space and couldn’t afford a commercial rent so I applied for an Arts Council grant under their Develop Your Creative Practice strand. I was unsuccessful in the application but then the Axisweb studio came up and I thought why not do it anyway.

The project can be seen here where there a series of developmental animations of 3d models. I will write more about the space itself in a different post, this series will plot the physical and practical process involved in building it and its more open companion piece.

As a reference point for the studio space artist groups in Doncaster are offering spaces through the council that measure 4.5 x 2.5 metres, that’s slightly bigger than half the blue tarpaulin in the close up picture, for £15 per month.

Spaces like this have limits you accept and work around. This space is essentially a fifteen metre square with a 5x4mtr corner office. The corner office has motion sensor triggered lighting and two wall heaters that have timers attached. It has four double wall sockets and is carpeted. None of this useful for me at all. The rest of the space has no lighting and one double socket next to the electrical consumer unit. There is no heating either. The space is well lit by six large skylights, clear corrugated plastic by the look of it, and is usable during daylight hours. I have had to invest in extension leads and adopt a very considered practice – never leaving anything plugged in that’s not being used, taking time to put away equipment between uses as I move the sockets near enough to the work – to be able to build. The other downside to AxisWeb spaces is that you have a 21 day notice period from either side, so if the landlord rents the space you have to leave quickly.

I took the keys on October 26th , and moved the equipment in on Tuesday 30th. Materials were delivered on Monday 5th November and I built the bench in the picture below that afternoon (yesterday as I write). Stay tuned for more as time passes.