Agnes Martin wrote that the artist’s studio should be a sanctuary for inspiration, a space devoid of busyness or clutter, where one is to be disturbed – “only if the house is burning”.
Now, I’d have to admit that mine is more along the lines of the Francis Bacon studio but it is interesting to read someone else’s impression (especially a teenager’s view) so today, I have an excerpt from an old essay by my niece Ella Gregory…
I was eleven years old when I first saw my uncle’s workshop. My mum and I dropped by for a quick cup of tea, since we were in the area. He answered the front door in his worn overalls, his forehead glistening from the heat and his stubble, flecked with colour. His rough hands were stained blue and his eyes twinkled when he smiled. He led us through the dark hallway to a sun-filled kitchen, out into the garden and down to the studio.
The door creaked open and he ushered us in, mum and I, as the light from the door streamed in. At first, the only thing I saw was a big table covered in newspaper, stained in blues, reds and greens. On the walls he had paintings, some finished, most unfinished. I saw sketches, plans, ideas drawn onto the newspapers.
I saw eyes, sad eyes, looking at me. I saw piles of waste and rubbish, all strewn in the corner, waiting to be made into something spectacular. Something he made. Something he will make. I saw paint bottles, full, empty, splatters of paint dried up. I saw colours I have never seen before.
I saw a man, looking at me with loss and guilt in his eyes. A woman’s lost eyes. I saw beauty and sadness. I saw sculptures that people will never see – paintings that will not be put in galleries, beautiful leftovers that were not rubbish. I saw a face that I recognised and others that I didn’t. I saw my uncle like I had never seen him before. His paint brush elegantly stroking a man’s face to life, with such ease. I saw magic.
So now, I did consider adding a photograph of the inside of the studio but then thought the better of it. Ella’s description sounded much more interesting than the messy reality.
I included a couple of my older paintings instead. Maybe these were the ones she saw there – I was working towards a group exhibition in the Irish College in Leuven at that time. This was an exhibition curated by Jackie Ryan to celebrate the Irish Presidency of the EU in 2013.
But the image at the top of the page, the paint spatters (or were they splatters?) Well, sometimes what appears on the studio floor can be just as interesting to me as what I have on the wall. What do you think?