June, 2024 (No)Exhibition

Over the last few years, I have been making my painting surfaces which I like to produce in batches. Which will dictate the number of paintings in a collection. The newest set, 10 boards at 12 inches square, was made in November 2023. I wanted to keep working with the Gansia watercolour paint which has been a recurring medium, but alter my technique in its application. And expand on some ideas of movement from the last years’ paintings.

To briefly explain/recap the previous collection of paintings was forest scenes. In the first run there often wasn’t a direct focal point, but rather an intention of direction implied by the layout of the trees*.

Shown below.

*Maybe not the best example as the single white tree may be viewed as the focal point, I mean more of an ambiguity in the path of direction, guiding you (the viewer) in a more subtle quiet way.

In the follow-up set, I found a new feeling of movement by changing the viewers’ standpoint by implying a ‘looking down’. This was achieved by angling the trees and increasing the angle at the sides of the scene. The viewer then becomes more ‘in’ the forest, moving through it, rather than the earlier more static view looking into the forest. I wrote a lot about this in earlier blog posts about this collection.

The composition of the trees (cut strips of painted masking tape) is a durational process taking upwards of 2+ hours. The final intention is for the viewer to be in a 3-dimensional space, moving through the trees with an intention of direction.

To create for myself while composing and the final viewer that sense of movement and the energy of exploring the forest I listened to various types of music, high-energy electronic music mostly for these paintings. I wanted to feel like the peak moment in a club, banging tunes as you sidestep between birch trees. The trees also had to have character, in a way they are the other dancers in the nightclub. I was trying to DJ myself into a frenzied composition.

It was this idea I wanted to take forward. If I were to now take the trees out from the composition and explore creating something with that same methodology of music driving the composition, what would that look like?

Early December 2023 I had completed the first 3 boards. They were painted in the same session, over many hours. Each board although similar in appearance had slight variations in techniques as I explored options for what direction I was looking for.

The intention was to create a moment perhaps. A music video of sorts. I would listen to particular music on headphones and paint making marks and choosing colour based on the music. This session may last many hours and the resulting painting is a collated time-lapse document of that journey.

So I wanted to explore this area of movement more. Create something with this dynamic quality, it should feel in motion. To achieve this I had to put myself mentally into a state of movement and allow the brush to move freely. Not allow myself to intentionally ‘paint’ a thing. Just take a journey, the endpoint or the arrival isn’t the concern. These initial 3 boards resulted in something I wanted to take forward with the remaining surfaces but they would have to wait for a big change was on the horizon…..

Just weeks before Christmas I received a bill as the studio is now eligible for Business rates. Now this threw me into a bit of a stress, I won’t bore you with the deets and the initial 6K+ bill was retracted and reduced then reissued, but in December I had to choose either close the studio with immediate effect or redesign the studio to bring in the extra money required. It was just the final straw, the escalation of costs across the board is just too much since 2020.

I decided to redesign and on Dember 18th 2023 I started rebuilding. Every desk, every wall, every object, had to be moved. 6 years of work to be dismantled, I can’t express how complicated that is. The plan was to finish the bulk of the building work over Christmas when most artists were away. I didn’t really see Christmas or New Year, lost in a maze of wood and screws. I missed my birthday, and now it’s the end of May.

It took me a bit to get over dismantling the place, or the fact it was enforced change it wasn’t by choice. So the best way I could find a resolution with the situation was to justify taking the place apart by making it better. Okay it’s forced change, but it’s also an opportunity. The original studio was designed for 9 people in 2017. By 2023 it had become 18 and the layout had been compromised. So could I redesign to bring in the extra finance, still offer useable space, and maintain the charm of why the studio was good in the first place, and make it all better?

I ran the numbers a million ways to find a balance in my design. First, I didn’t want anyone to be forced to go by reducing numbers so maintaining the 18 spaces was a priority, and in this post-COVID world access to arts space is even more difficult so the studio must be maintained. Then it was a question of how to split the room to create workable spaces without it becoming a battery farm. Not everyone in the room was winning in this reconstruction. For a start, everyone would be paying more. And although most were going to get a larger space in the rebuild, some had to downgrade.

All the walls were completed around March. It took another 2 months to backtrack over everyone’s spaces and make desks, painting racks, and whatever modifications they needed. At time of writing this over the first few days of June I would say constructions are finished, but still have a final rubbish removal to clear the last of the leftovers. Not quite fully functional.

Leftovers is something I’m pretty pleased about in the whole affair. Essentially I planned to rebuild the studio by using the original studio right down to reusing screws. At the start, I told myself it would be grand and there were probably enough supplies right here to do the whole job. That wasn’t the case. In the end the original studio stock covered about half the build. Fortunately, I got a good deal from a farmer on enough wood to complete the build. I made an effort to build the artists’ new booth with the component sheets from their original booth to maintain character and filter in new sheets in a half-and-half fashion. The general point being there has been very little waste as everything was reused or rehomed.

Now the dust has settled somewhat, I can assess if it all worked…

Everyone stayed. The design had to be a minimum of 18, in the end, I created 20 spaces, bringing another 2 artists into the studio. Most of the original 18 artists have upgraded to a larger space than they had originally. All the spaces are the same size now, which wasn’t the case before. I feel more comfortable now everyone has the same space without the individual compromises of the original design.

To try to offset the fact not everyone was upgrading, and everyone would love a bigger space, I created a project space. A large empty booth for artists’ larger projects, or just when extra space would be helpful. This booth also has a door direct out to the atrium creating an exhibition space within but enclosed from the main studio. This is pretty experimental I’m keen to see how this works out.

The main shared workshop area had to be maintained in the redesign, which would include space for the workbench and tools. A printing press area. The kitchen area. And the photography wall. The photography wall is the only thing that wasn’t deconstructed in the build.

It is much better now, it is different, and it will take a while to nest down, but the rebuild has been a success I feel. I wont be able to tell till we get some actual summer but I think the design is helping with air flow and temperature better. Light distribution was a huge concern pre-build. I could generally visualize but couldn’t know until it was built how the wall spacing and where the windows were and heights and obstructions would it all be too close and enclosed.


I don’t like putting up images, why don’t you visit? I only explained this whole rebuild thing to try and convay how much work goes into making the studio exist. The hardness of that job has increased exponentially since the pandemic. ‘Increase’ would be a laughable understatement in regard to the financial aspects of running a studio. To be frank, I don’t see how artists can exist in Glasgow anymore, that’s a reality. So again, support artists. Visit studios. Go to exhibitions.

By April 2024 I had a desk again and resumed this collection of 10 paintings. I initially struggled to make a start as it had been so long since the first 3 which were essentially experiments. I didn’t feel in the same place, but there wasn’t a problem once I started painting.

I titled the collection ‘Flit’ because that represented both the way they were painted and the emotion they were meant to convey. You can see the collection here – Flit (2024)

I’m not currently planning on having my usual studio (No)Exhibition.

With this new studio layout we might have something of a reboot. I hope the new project space leads to more exhibitions from the artists here which could turn into a regular thing. I would like that, but for the immediate now I’m just making this collection simply online here and by appointment at the studio.

The paintings are best seen in person no doubt to appreciate the colours of the gansai watercolour paint. And visual aspects of the surface resin. You are welcome to come round. I’m just not making a formal exhibition out of it at this time. If anything their current display is of much more realness than any contrived exhibition would be. That being a tight grid format above my workbench where I completed the pictures. Hung out of practicality while I worked on the individual stages of each board. The last stage being a final coat of super black paint on the sides and hung completed.

Completing the studio build was a big task. I’m somewhat spent so I am concentrating on the repair of myself.

The studio is going forward.

Hey, why not read the next blog post…..

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