As I gingerly pick my way through the paint tubes, palette knives, plastic sheeting and brushes scattered over the carpet, and make it to the sofa – which is covered in sketches, I throw up my hands and do an internal scream of frustration. I can’t go on like this!
I’ve been operating my art, my magazine, my coaching, and my digital consultancy from the front room of my apartment for years now, to the point where it no longer feels like a home I can relax and reflect in. Sure, it’s pleasant to work on a canvas with a movie on late into the night and then flop into bed, but my paintings and materials are just everywhere, and it’s starting to clutter my mind as well as my house.
So last week I renewed my desperate search for studio space. The key requirements were that it had to be close enough to visit regularly and easily, and it had to be affordable.
I’d looked eagerly in the past without much luck. Any Surrey studio space was either snapped up or too annoying to get to. Wimbledon Art Studios looked great, and I was willing to commute, but even a small, shared space was over my budget. I was ready to give up.
And then I came across a listing on a directory website which made me sit up and wonder. A local storage facility was offering units to small businesses who needed affordable space. Would they be open to an artist studio too? Would a storage unit even work? I booked an appointment for the very next day…
Of course, many artists require and prize strong natural light, and a storage unit definitely doesn’t provide that. But for an abstract artist like me, this wasn’t a deal breaker. All I would need were strong strip lights I could put on the wall with magnets, which I could move around as required. I also had strong, battery operated studio lights I could bring over.
I discussed the price (plus the price of the mandatory insurance policy) with the manager, and was delighted to discover it was half the price of the small shared space I’d seen in Wimbledon. I thought about the chaos waiting for me back home and signed up.
I put up the lights, put down a soft, colourful rug I love, and decided where I would work, and where my table would go. I spent some time just sitting, taking in the atmosphere. All I could hear was the occasional wave of metallic creaking and shuddering, which was strangely soothing, and the echo of distant voices elsewhere in the building. It felt… right.
And here it is, ready to go. After the bank holiday tomorrow, I will spend my first working day in this space. I’ve wanted to give my art and myself a dedicated space like this for so long, and it’s finally real. Here’s to new beginnings…