Friday, May 27, 2011

My Studios: Part II

Not actually my studio in Reading, England, but
pretty close to the one I talk about
Reading, England

When I returned to England and completed my MA, I realized that I didn’t want to go back to painting in a a converted bedroom, so I obtained a studio in the town where I lived, about 40 miles west of London. It was in another small industrial space, near the River Kennet. Like many buildings in Reading, it was constructed from solid red Victorian brick, and it had windows running the length of each room. I was on the second floor, in a long room about 25 feet long, with whitewashed stone walls and half-moon windows on two sides. 
I rented this space from about October 1994 to July 1995, when I moved to London. I moved in all the canvases and materials that had been shipped back from Spain, and spent the winter and spring continuing with the large, Anselm Kiefer-like impasto semi-abstract landscapes that I had begun during the MA. The space was unheated, but the weather is never that cold in England, so even on the coldest days I could manage a few hours in there by wrapping up warm and painting in fingerless gloves. The weird thing about the place was that across the corridor, a room identical in shape to mine was used as a gym by these big, beastular guys who walked and talked like cockney mobsters in recent films of that ilk. That’s not quite a joke: curious about why they worked out so much in the middle of a weekday, I asked them once what they did for a living, and they only cackled and said: ‘A bit of this, a bit of that. Import and export, that sort of thing.’ I had a couple of joking conversations with them, in which we talked about swapping spaces for a while, so that they could try and paint and I could try and bench press 500 pounds with just one hand.
It was good to have a space outside my home, but I was very much on my own, and I missed the communality of the studio in Barcelona. I regained that to some extent in my next studio, when I moved to London.

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