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Making a studio wherever you go

August 25, 2014

Last night was the third Studio Group I’ve been to with Islington Mill Art Academy

“Studio Group is a regular Art Academy activity, exploring new possibilities for how, when and where artwork is made, and questioning the traditional role of the artists studio in this process. Temporary group ‘studio’ sessions are sited in unorthodox settings, often in public space, and are followed by a discussion and sharing of the work that each person has made during the time.”

We’ve done one at the cinema, one under some railway arches and this last one was an extended late session at Islington Mill.


We wanted to pick a film that we wouldn’t usually watch and respond to it. We ended up watching a horror film, which was less crap than we imagined (but still not that great!)

I decided beforehand that I would collect leaflets from the cinema foyer and use them, plus watercolours/pen to respond to the film.
As it was dark I used the light from my phone for some parts, but it ended up much looser than my usual work.

Other people responded in different ways; drawing throughout the film without looking down, making a mind map, writing down lists of clichés and a text conversation exchanging a line from the film with a line from someone who was elsewhere.

Under the arches


This time we wandered over from the mill to the nearby railway arches. We all split up to do our own thing and then arranged to come back together later. I explored the arches, collecting items to work with and also photographed things I was drawn to. I became interested in discarded outer plastic from cables. The bold colours and curved forms stood out from the uneven browns and greens of the dirt and brick.

I returned to the main arch and settled by a wall, making a seat out of a pile of bricks. I found myself painting onto the objects I’d collected using primary colours and smooth lines, after looking back through my images of plastic casing. The lines were strong and fluid against the rough textures of the objects I’d collected. I also displayed some items I’d collected, emphasising them with blue ink, and I collected and pressed some ‘weeds’ to add to my collection for another project I’m working on.

At the mill


The gallery space was open from 4pm – 4am for the making session, hosted by the mill’s Creativity Exchange run by Michael Holland. The materials had been collected and donated from different artists from the mill, a real treasure trove!

I rummaged through the materials and decided to carry on with my colour/shape/collage experiments. After spotting some wool brought by Claire, I decided to try hanging the pieces from a beam. I was also reintroduced to knitting (thanks Claire!) And added a knitted piece to the hanging cube. I liked the way the light shone through it, and the combination of paper and yarn.

I was there for about 6 hours so after that I found myself just playing with materials, which ended with me making an eye cylinder where you look through the eye and see a slightly grotesque face made of plasters, reflected in a mirror. (No idea where that came from!!!) I made a couple of other collages and then played around with old risograph sheets, in a mono print kind of way. I worked into this with ink and bits of text.

I really enjoy the making sessions. I always end up producing something surprising that I wouldn’t have considered had I been in my own studio. There are elements that I’d like to develop, bits of ideas that can be crafted into other works and ways of working that I will adopt in my regular practice. There’s also the energy of others which really changes the way I work. I’d really love to collaborate in future sessions. 

Most of all I love the uncertainty and element of surprise. That’s something I need to work on in the rest of my life!

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