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ARTIST STUDIO with Alice Dansey Wright

28 Jan 2021

Artist Alice Dansey Wright tells about Artist Studio, a project that has emerged whilst working with young people and adults attending our Taking Part sessions during the the current ongoing pandemic. We hear about the ideas and inspirations behind the project and a glimpse into her own artist studio… …

I have been leading the Artist Studio project at Platform since September 2020. Following lockdown and the ongoing restrictions and impact of Covid-19 I wanted to design a project that explored ‘working from home’ and the concept of an artist’s studio when many of us don’t have access to one. I also wanted to share my research and development with the groups that I engage with at Platform, to have a open creative process and to benefit from exchanges and interactions with the groups. I’m an artist who has never had a studio, and increasingly with the restrictions of Covid and responsibilities of childcare, the way I make work has become a juggling act.

Artist’s studios seem to have a particular (and contradictory) status in our collective imaginations. They can be a place for a ‘creative genius’ to work, to be seen as both glamorous and impoverished, indulgent and grand, entitled, communal and solitary. They can be the result of patronage or a goal to aspire towards for art students. There is also this theme of the studio reflecting the artist - being an extension or embodiment of them (see Mondrian’s ‘giant abstract painting studio’ here) - specially and carefully crafted interiors, made to be looked at. Many famous artist’s studios are recreated, piece by piece, as though the artist has just left the room - to give us an insight into their process, the ‘working out’ behind the masterpieces.

I’m most compelled by the idea of the carefully crafted interior, truly ‘a room of one’s own’ as per the famous Virginia Woolf text. I imagine an ideal space, in a warm clime (with a stunning view), materials collected and arranged per my exact preferences. My brushes, paints and papers would be interspersed with beautiful collected textiles and prints, artisanal pottery and trinkets. I’d have a stack of vintage magazines, a real library, a beautifully curated archive of previous work. Of course they’d also be a small kitchen with a 1950s Italian vibe, coffee brewing in a stove-top Bialetti, a bowl of ripe peaches etc etc…

My vision is both inspired by studio images of mid-century big names like Matisse, Picasso, Hepworth, Miro, Delaunay, Kahlo… and the works that they created. My vision is very specific, and I think it has become more vivid since having my children (twins) two years ago. Being a parent to two very young children, plus extra restrictions on childcare (and well, everything), makes having time and space to oneself more special and appealing than ever. What would be your ideal artist studio?

These ideas were the starting point and so far I have been shared with the NU GEN group for 11-16 year olds and the Saturday Art Club (4-11yrs), with a little dip into the Art Factory (adults). Communications have been conducted through Zoom, Instagram and a newsletter. I’m trying to establish interesting ways to share and interact as the project continues.

I’m very inspired by working with the younger audiences at Platform - something that started quite a while before lockdown. DIY, cut & paste, paint straight out of the tube, modelling clay, and play feature in my work a lot. So far we have explored trompe l’oeil & illusions, fakery and backdrops, model building & ‘dream’ spaces, making your own tools, and miniatures. Going forward, I want to explore ‘what makes an artist?’ and ’What do artists wear?’ as well as examining some of the items we might find in a studio more closely, such as maquettes, sketchbooks and palettes amongst many more. Broadly, I want to play with the idea of the artist studio and perhaps subvert it’s grandeur, encouraging the idea that we can create a special place for ourselves and make great things, even if it’s from the corner of our kitchen tables. I plan to meet other artists and designers for (online) ‘studio coffees’, to attempt to understand more about how they are adjusting to the current circumstances and reimagining their practices. Ultimately I hope that the project results in something tangible that collects the ideas explored and work created together- a publication perhaps, or some form of exhibition. Personally too, my ambition for the project is that is helps me work through a time of great change and that it goes some way to revealing, for me - what happens next.

For information about how to take part in the ARTIST STUDIO project please email info@platform-online.co.uk

Visual Arts

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