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Posts tagged “studio

Speculative Studio #2 – Sharon Hall Shipp

A fabricated version of the creative processes that propel the artist Sharon Hall Shipp


‘Hall Shipp combines the virtues of chance with the aesthetics of geometry to document our desire for establishing patterns – whether that be imagined, sub-conscious or directly. Hall Shipp’s process reveals how pattern making allows us to establish a connection with our environments’

Speculative Studios was an exhibition at BasementArtsProject that assumed the studio spaces of two artists, based on their exhibition pieces from COLONIZE, New York, in 2014.

Speculative Studio #1 – David Cotton

A fabricated version of the creative processes that propel the artist David Cotton


‘An interest in cartography informed with a desire for travel, Cotton’s work attaches the historical presumptions of mythology to the scientific advances of modern map making techniques. This reveals both the inaccuracies that exist within modern map design and cartography’s capacity for narrative, aesthetic and metaphor.’

Speculative Studios was an exhibition at BasementArtsProject that assumed the studio spaces of two artists, based on their exhibition pieces from COLONIZE, New York, in 2014.

Identity as Performance – Reflecting on Speculative Studios

After a period of inactivity – due in no small part to a bloody annoying leak in my living room – it is time to reflect on my most recent exhibition.

‘Speculative Studios’ occupied BasementArtsProject from the 10th – 20th June. It was the latest incarnation of my project ‘Speculative Studio Spaces‘, which takes an exhibition piece produced by another artist and attempts to re-imagine the process of arriving at the finished piece by fabricating the artists’ entire studio space. On this occasion I actually fabricated two speculative studio spaces based on two artists I came in contact with during COLONIZE in 2014.


The project uses the studio as a tool that can be exploited and manipulated in order to reveal something about the intent, desires and creative processes of an artist which, in turn, gifts the audience a sense of perception. It assigns the studio to the role of a portrait, revealing a facet of an artist’s identity that is usually veiled behind a space that is often regarded as private.

Yet, in its purely static and aesthetic state, ‘Speculative Studios’ also nurtured ideas leaning toward set design, and a set design often acts merely as an appendage to the action of a narrative. Put simply, my presence within the space is often a key entry point for an audience, as it clarifies the intent and focus of a project that could otherwise be marred by complexities. Therefore a degree of performance was added to this incarnation – the mere act of being present  allowed an audience to connect directly with my intentions.


Of course, it’s all very well me spouting off about some of the high end concepts Speculative Studio Spaces contains, but what it – and indeed all art – needs more than anything else is an audience. Speculative Studios at BasementArtsProject was modestly attended, and those who did attend were well immersed. Almost all attendees spent at least half an hour within the space attempting to uncover its layers and concepts. As I made the decision to include two artists, I was also cautious not to overload each studio space as I wanted a studio space and exhibition hybrid to exist. It was assumed that this would allow a more contemplative show for an audience as they look for clues towards creative processes as opposed to simply having creative processes thrust upon them. I wanted an audience to navigate their own way through the space, making their own connections derived from their own experiences, with my presence constantly driving home the notion of fiction in order to inform their contemplative actions.

I think other artists can readily identify with Speculative Studio Spaces, and that it’s certainly not as accessible as the other strand of my creative endeavours – Perfume as Practice. But it certainly creates complex and relevant conversations about what it means to be an artist, how your identity as an artist can be exploited and the fabrication of creative processes, assembled to resemble a studio can say something about how artists are perceived.


The next incarnation of Speculative Studio Spaces will in some part take the form of a stage play. Don’t know where, don’t know when.

The Return of Speculative Studio Spaces

In May I’ll be involved in no less than 4 exhibitions and events. A busy time indeed, but one I am very much looking forward to getting stuck into!

May also marks the return of one strand of my creative endeavours – Speculative Studio Spaces – which sees me construct a fabricated studio space based on the exhibition piece of another artist. When a highly personal space such as an artists studio is opened to investigation and interpretation, what does that say about the artist, the outward perception of the artist and how we regard creative processes?

I will be staging a Speculative Studio Space as part of a group exhibition in Huddersfield Media Centre. The studio I will be fabricating is that of the artist Jim Geddes (1932-2009) who I’m told was a rather prolific artist in his time. The process of creating this space is a slight departure from previous Speculative Studio Spaces, as this time I haven’t personally chosen the artist. It will be interesting to see how relinquishing control of part of the process effects the overall space.

Further Adventures in Candle Making

Studio time today saw me explore and experiment with candles, wax and how the common roles of candles can be re-contextualised.

As with the beginning of all my creative endeavors, the source of enquiry is creative processes and tour relationship between creative action and material.

A narrative ensues that initially casts candles within the roles of contemplation and reflection – the time it takes to arrive at or develop an idea. However, upon further scrutiny, it becomes clear that should these candles be lit, the surfaces that are needed to address an idea would be lost. This highlights the struggle between thought and execution.

An Invitation to a Speculative Studio Spaces Talk and Guide

After the inevitable massive push that comes with the instillation and promotion of an exhibition, the beginning of October has seen a period of reflection: An assessment of the patterns that are emerging by virtue of my own intuition with every speculative studio space I have installed. I have concluded that these patterns, whilst inevitable, could have a negative impact of future speculative studio space exhibitions if not quelled. It is the authenticity of a speculative studio space that shapes its success, after all.

So with this, and with an upcoming open studio event looming in my mind, I see it fit to externalise these thoughts and provide insight into my Speculative Studio Spaces project to an audience. The aim is to provide an informative guide to the nature of my project, including notions of how creative choices can be relinquished from the artist, and how this process can encourage instructive thinking about identity, ownership and authorship.

So, I present to you a Speculative Studio Spaces Talk and Guide this coming Thursday at Access Space! I will be on-hand to talk through the concept, process and instillation of a Speculative Studio Space, the implications of a Speculative Studio Space and future Speculative Studio Space projects. I will also be on-hand to answer any questions.


You can find more details on this facebook event page:

I hope to see you there as it should be a fun and interesting evening. Plus there will be a bar, which is always nice! Plus, with Perfume as Practice – a project developing alongside Speculative Studio Space, taking precedence from now until spring 2016, it is safe to say that this will be the last Speculative Studio Spaces event for a little while.

Notes on a Speculative Studio

Last Friday saw the opening of my current Speculative Studio Spaces exhibition at Access Space, Sheffield, and features an instillation of a fabricated studio space of the Halifax-based artist Jo Brown.

The exhibition takes one of Jo’s exhibition pieces and attempts to construct a studio space that considers how the artist arrived at the idea. The result is a speculative studio space that simultaneously acts as a portrait of the artist and reveals notions around how identity is perceived based on public perception and what happens then creative choices are seized from the artist and given to informed interpretation and critical subjection.

The instillation reads like set design, with each object positioned in a way simultaneously considered and spontaneous. It’s all too easy to make the whole thing look contrived, though, and early in the instillation process I found myself positioning objects in a way akin to curating. This approach needed to be abandoned if the piece is able to hold any authenticity and, over the course of the instillation process, I found a more intuitive way to place objects, allowing a comfortable sense of naturalness to occur – as if the artist is fully embedded within the space:


I have tried to withhold my own intuition and come to informed conclusions as to how Jo would exist within the space – taking into account both her speculative creative output and how artists adapt to the spaces they find themselves in. And yet, for all the attempted removal of my own hand, there is evidence of introspective elements. I suppose it’s no surprise that a few patterns have emerged with each studio space I have constructed. Chiefly around the positioning of the artworks themselves.

Are these patterns all part and parcel of the process? Do I conclude that there is something innate about creative processes, even if the work you are doing is attempting to re-imagine creative processes? Or do these patterns represent flaws in the project as a whole? I’d probably plump for the former, especially when I consider that overall, the project is well received and understood. However, it’s something to think about when developing the project further.

You can see ‘Speculative Studio Spaces’ at Access Space, Sheffield, from 22 September to 15 October 2015. It’s open Tuesday to Friday, 11am to 5pm. I am also planning to run an event that futher explans the projec. Watch this space!

Shaping a Speculative Studio Space

The Speculative Studio Space that I am installing at Access Space is really beginning to take shape! I am reluctant to say to much about it as yet because it will probably be best seen (and explained!) during the exhibition opening this Friday. Though you can expect to find a studio space designed around a love of travel, raw and bold use of colour, the notion of contextualising a landscape and paintings with a quiet but potent political grounding.

So, with the opening evening being this Friday from 5.30-8pm, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at what to expect:

Intrigued? Then why not pop down to Access Space on Friday to see it for yourself? Confused? Well fear not, I will be on hand on Friday to chat about my work. Couldn’t care less? Well why not pop down anyway – there will be refreshments available!

Graduates and Tailored Studios

Consumed by the practice of painting, thoughts, seemingly unrelated, can not only emerge, but crystallise. So it came as no surprise a couple of days ago when, equipped with a fully loaded paint brush about to attempt the rendering of an apple in only 2 brushstrokes, a question appeared before me – Was going to University worthwhile?

My work for my 2007 University exhibition was created as a direct result of being disillusioned by University.
My work for my 2007 University exhibition was created as a direct result of being disillusioned by University.

It’s a subject not without documented debate – The contrasts of learning through academia against learning through intuition and life experiences. One school of thought suggests that developing artistic practice – something intuitive and which can be used as a tool for which to comment on the failure of academic systems – simply can’t be developed meaningfully within an institution. Another school of thought suggests that a university offers a platform for which to develop practice within a suited environment – and as such encourages collaboration, knowledge exchange, and all the apparatus you need in order to apply your skills to the wider world.

With regards to known experiences of attending university in order to complete a fine art (or similar) degree, a tangible pattern can be traced: The first year provides a basis for which a discipline can be explored, that discipline begins to be developed in the second year, but becomes stilted by the confines of an institutionalised, formal, and objective marking scheme: Seeing the need for creative practice to fall within restrictive boundaries. By the third year, the student is disillusioned: Either producing work that blindly adherers to marking schemes for the sake of a good grade, or producing work in direct conflict to the marking scheme at the sacrifice of a good grade but with integrity. I know of ten accounts of graduates that can identify with this pattern and, whilst ten accounts is by no means comprehensive, it provides a little insight into the shortcomings of attending university.

So, given the urgency a 17 year old feels with regards to attending a University from their respective college, is their faith in academia misguided? Well, yes and no. Let me explain.

Whilst there may be advantages to gaining knowledge through artistic endeavour at university, I believe a problem arises: Not with what is being taught, but the fact that you are left unequipped with any knowledge concerning how to apply what has been taught to a wider context. Nothing is said of how to establish professional contacts, how to get your work seen away from the university environment, how to sustain the interest of contacts and there is little guidance with regard to professional development strategies.

Yet in the interests of balance, and because of the fact that, on reflection, I am satisfied enough with my university experiences, I do not wish to simply sully the good work done by universities. Instead, I will simply accept the fact that they can’t do everything. It is up to the graduate to forge a meaningful career out of the knowledge gained. But the feeling of disillusionment and confusion in the first months away from university can daunt, overwhelm and even allow you to lose faith in your abilities and knowledge entirely.

So, how do we combat this feeling? Well, by providing some kind of interim platform, not constricted by an academic establishment, that provides a basis for which graduates can develop their practice and initiate their emergence onto a wider arts scene. And, as an individual with first-hand experience of the trials of attempting to emerge into the arts scene, I would have found such a platform meaningful and worthwhile.  Somewhere that is connected to the wider community, that and yet retains of degree of familiarity. Somewhere that provides a knowledge exchange, a place to initiate scholarly and empirical enquiry through practice, somewhere that encourages career development through critique, collaboration and sharing knowledge. A hybrid, if you will, of the disciplines of academic study and the business of making a name for yourself.

How would such a platform manifest itself? Well, I’m still connecting the dots on that question. But an artist studio, tailored to graduates with a programme of cooperative events, critiques and workshops, sounds like a suitable starting point. Indeed, leading an artist’s studio is something I’ve always wanted to do. And tailoring it to the needs of the graduate provides a niche that will allow certain upcoming artists, who want a place to apply the knowledge they have gained at university, to thrive.

My Open Studio Adventure

In the midst of the excitement of reaching our Kickstarter funding (An embarrassingly big ‘thank you’ to everyone to contributed and who helped spread the word, incidentally) I have shamefully neglected to describe and assess the recent open studio event I participated in at my studio at KIAC. So here goes.

I have only been involved in one other open studio event prior to this. It was at University a few years ago. It consisted mainly of drinking tea and waiting for someone – anyone – to show up. Inevitably, no-one did, and I left the event with the assumption that all Open Studio events would be like this.

However, last weeks’ open studio, thankfully, was different. Whilst naturally it still involved drinking tea, at least this time I had people to share a cup of tea with. Whilst the amount of people visiting my studio was by no means vast, all involved certainly responded and identified with my work and my concepts. And the simple act of talking to a stranger about my work helped consolidate my ideas and conceptual principles.

Indeed, something I learnt as the event progressed, is that talking, in this context, is a powerful tool: It is used to generate and sustain intrigue, to sell both yourself and your work and to establish connections with others, which in turn may lead to something grander. In a studio environment, it is harder for the work to speak for itself: Work isn’t visually isolated, with accompanying text and an underlying theme. It is up to you to fill in these gaps in order to pull the work from it’s physical trappings, thus allowing it to be contemplated and identified with, if you wish to succeed in an open studio event.


My Studio. Certainly looking more like a hive of activity these days.

However, my experience was by no means perfect, and I think that’s partly down to me. My studio could have been tarted up somewhat in order to make it look more appealing to the visitors. I vaguely attempted to arrange works of art in an orderly fashion, but many visitors simply glanced at my studio and proceeded to walk on by without any additional thought. I think I could have made it look more appealing and more engaging in order to achieve a more positive initial response from visitors.

I also wished to sell jars of my own paint at the event. This did not happen and was a bit of a missed opportunity. I could blame the fact that the empty jars I needed in order to store the paint were only delivered to me on the same day as the event itself, but really it’s my own fault. I knew when the Open Studio was going to be, and I simply didn’t order the jars quickly enough. As I say, this was a bit of a missed opportunity, and one that should have been seized in order to generate more interest in my work.

Anyway, lets not finish on a downer, it was still a worthwhile and enjoyable experience. And the negative elements of the experience are small enough to learn from, without having to label the whole event an all-encompassing, abject, vomit-inducing failure. And that’s always good.