Don’t panic – I’m not about to join the burgeoning ranks of scribblers currently pontificating on hybrid working, remote working, flexible working, and all that jazz. For now, I’m focussing on something much more out of vogue, the art of actually going to work to do your work.
As of June 1st 2021, I became the latest tenant at Oaks Park Studios, Carshalton. After carrying out most of my creative practice over the past decade on the kitchen table, on my desk, and with my eight legged coworkers in the spider filled garden shed, this is big news for me, and I expected it to be tiny news for anyone else. I was wrong about that.
After sharing a photo of my new working space on Instagram and Twitter last week, I’ve had loads of encouragement from people. There’s something lovely about knowing people are interested in your work. As a freelancer I feel that particularly keenly, and I’m grateful to everyone who has been in touch.
So why – when we are still in the grip of a global pandemic, would I choose to invest in a workplace, (particularly one with such basic facilities – I’m assured winter time with no heating is fun) when seemingly all around me, people appear to be abandoning theirs? Four things heavily influenced my decision.
I’ll be working among a community of artists. This will be a new experience for me, and as someone who holds community at the heart of his practice, I am excited to see how these new exposures affect me and my work.
The studio can be reached on foot. Crossing farm tracks and parklands, it is approximately one and a half miles away from our home. A lot of my work is influenced by wandering and wondering through local nature, and being able to travel to and from work on foot will doubtless play into how my work develops.
For the first time in my artistic adventures, I have space to play. That canvas you can see on the easel in the above photo, measures 1m x 70cm. It felt huge at home, too big to work on in my little office, and it took up too much room in the kitchen. Now, as you can see, it looks tiny. Very simply, this bigger space gives me opportunities to take on bigger experiments. As an added bonus – I am creating space at home as I move my stuff into the new working space.
One of the challenges in doing this kind of work from home, is the constant need to be tidying things away. I can’t leave work ‘in place’ as that place is nearly always needed for us to cook, eat, and live in. I’m really curious to learn how my work evolves when I can work on it day in day out, leaving it in place for as long as is needed.
What now? In the words of David Hockney, it’s time to Shut Up And Paint. More to follow…