I am so excited (and busy) preparing everything for next weekend (27-28 of September/2014) Open Studio, as part of the Bedfordshire Art Trail. It will be the first time that I open my “world” to the public, for them to browse around and see how my art is created. I have been investing in new picture rails for hanging some of the paintings, furniture, and I have spent the whole weekend assembling furniture, installing the rails, and reorganizing books, materials: a Cleaning fury! It is also very timely, since it is one year since we have this studio. We wanted to have a space for art, and after having checked many possibilities (including a garage conversion and the many building regulations) we opted for Booth Gardens Studios, a great company that install the studio in three days, with minimum fuss or environmental impact, great service and instant results.
I spent most of last year’s summer (2013) preparing for that. I was on sick leave due to stress, so the garden was a good way to get back on my feet, and cleaning the space for the studio, became a fantastic therapy to “de-clutter” my own mental space. We chose an area of the garden which once was populated by a lovely meadow and a small green house, but due to unforeseen circumstances it became a bit of “dump”: the weeds had invaded what it was a lovely circle of stone, the green house was home for many spiders (and other creatures) nesting in the old pots, and all sort of detritus was deposited there. When we were clearing to make room for the studio which involved weeding and revealing walls and slates covered under an English jungle (I never thought weeds to be so savage!); clearing spaces, opening the path obstructed by overgrown branches; rehabilitating the garden shed (a lick of paint and tidy up), and most interestingly, discovering gardening. This has been one of the best things in my life, and also it has fed my love for botanical drawings: you can see the results in the ongoing series of “Our Garden of Everyday”
And there it came the day when the studio was going to be installed… in less than three days, the dynamic team of Booth Garden Studios, built the studio, using per-fabricated materials, almost like lego. Here there are the pictures:
GardenBoothStudios – Construction of the Studio
And then the “empty” space became a place (a potential for creativity and freedom). Our friend Harriet Short, has written extensively about place and space, and this can be a good example to explain the difference. Yes, there was the available space in the garden, but only when you give meaning to the space, when you dwell on it, then it becomes a place. I moved all the art books and materials: paintings, canvasses, brushes, pencils, colours, pastels, oils, watercolours, inks, pads, etc., to the new studio; I brought some music and the old internet radio, a small sofa and my precious collection of sketchbooks that I have developed since 1999, when I first travel abroad on my own. If there is a fire at home, I will only rescue the sketchbooks! They not only contain drawings, but they are the whole memory of my life: images, emotional and physical landscapes, cuttings, poetry, emails, few pictures, songs, notes, etc. During years I used the hard cover sketchbooks bought in Amsterdam (I’m not sure if the paper is acid free, but they are holding fine all these years). I added some other DIY sketchbooks (after the lovely workshop by Ann Rippin in our writing retreat in Hawkwood) and any other sketchbook found around. Once the studio was ready, my friends came with lovely presents: Sue wrote a poem about the space and gave me a little rhyme pray; Dawn brought music and voice and angelic sounds; Ann is constantly regaling me with souvenirs, exquisite pieces of fabric and postcards; and I have enjoyed the visits of my adorable angels: Sam, Alison, my bro Eduardo, and many more!
During the last twelve months, the studio has become a creative heaven, a womb for art, a temple of meditation and good vibe: and it is not only about the (many) paintings that I have been able to create, but also, the spiritual journey and well being of the place. It is so important to have this place! It’s like Virginia Woolf’s A room of one own, a place to be, to dwell, which in Spanish is called “morar” (which rhymes with enamorar, “being in love”)… and all of that is part of what this Studio means to me.
So opening the studio is to welcome a new wave of friends and good wishes, and enhancing the creative power of the place. It is about spirituality and dwelling, and becoming. It is all part of this life project of “living beautifully”: “thinking beautifully”, being nice, kind and having a beautiful approach to everything I do, but also, questioning, evolving and growing through art and beauty…