So we're in!

It’s been a lengthy, drawn-out process (my god, has it been drawn out), but Damon and I have finally moved into the new studio.

One morning last week we’d both been silent for a couple of hours, quietly engrossed in our own work. For some reason I paused and drew breath, looked around me: and this juggernaut of dawning realisation hit me.

I almost had to pinch myself, but I was right where I've always wanted to be.

After over 2 years on a waiting list, and months of delicate moving operations and delays because of the Covid-19 Lockdown, then painting walls and floor (there are a LOT of walls and floor), and installing furniture, and getting the lights upgraded, the kiln wired in, and finding a place for all our materials, being confronted with a condensation problem (like ‘raining from the ceiling’ level of condensation. NOT good if you use a lot of paper) and then solving it…

…we both spent the morning just happily working away.

Enjoying the studio; using it, rather than building it.

It would have been easy to just carry on, head down, and miss the moment—miss that massive fucking thing—but sometimes you need to just pause, exhale, and see how far you’ve come. To let it sink in.

And this makes me vibrate with elation.

We're at the end of one big life journey, and very much at the start of another one. This new journey will carve out our future selves, and what we leave behind as a legacy long after we're gone.

3-way montage showing work in progress sculptures and studio equipment

In the studio, L-R: Armature Wire on wall; Damon's sculpting area with work in progress; WIP with scaled anatomy boards

"It reminds me a little of starting a new job. You come home completely knackered, because you’re absorbing all this new experience and information—like your head’s a massive sponge."

Back down on Earth, we’re still in the ‘change of routine’ stage at the moment; we’ve been eating random meals at random times, and both feel slightly scatty and absent-minded. But we’re slowly settling, and both of us are fortunately in a good place with our creative flow. So rather than this move upsetting the balance and making us both flounder, we’re both fired-up to crack on and get absorbed into our respective practices.

It reminds me a little of starting a new job. You spend the first week or two feeling like you're not doing much because you’re getting to know the ropes (and the people). But you still come home completely knackered, because you’re absorbing all this new experience and information—like your head’s a massive sponge.

And then after that, the world's your lobster*.

Damon and I are both taking advantage of the luxury of having S P A C E by working on multiple pieces at the same time, and in my case, much larger work than I’ve been able to make while squeezed into the conservatory at home.

I’m currently working on a watercolour that’s just over a metre tall by 60cm wide, which would have been nigh on impossible before. And I'll be building my own canvas stretchers, so I can control the level of quality and make custom sizes and shapes.

Photo montage of art studio set-up from start to finish

Studio set-up from start to finish. L-R: (Top row): 1. March 2020 - A very dark blank canvas; 2. Painted walls, floor and woodwork! (Middle row): 1. Batons fixed to the wall to hang, raise and lower canvases during work—so I don't have to kneel on the floor; 2. First painting on the new easel in the new studio. (Bottom Row): 1. Fixing panel on back of table to hang equipment from (and to stop me knocking stuff off the back); 2. June 2020 - All finished! You can see the kilns and furnace in the background (those 3 cylinders on the left), and I've got all my paints handily clipped up near my palette so I can see what needs replacing, as well as all my brushes and tools to hand.

The extra space is a breath of fresh air and, at the other end, moving all our tools and equipment, accumulated over decades, to the studio means we have space in our home back as well.

The Sculpture Lounge Studios complex is slowly coming back to life after a very quiet few months without any visitors, classes or courses running. And although group activities are yet to resume, at least the artists are able to work and have contact with our (slowly opening) galleries and clients so that we can get back to making work and making a living.

So now we're in and working, I look forward to being able to keep you posted on everything that happens from here. I hope you'll return for a look.

*Nicked from the beloved and sadly missed Terry Pratchett.

All images and text © 2020 Julia Brown


Art, In the Studio, Painting, Practice

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