This is what I thought on visiting a communal art studio space in Digbeth, Birmingham. Today, a fellow University of Wolverhampton student and I went to visit an artist-in-residence student in her studio there.
Having been an art student for nearly 5 years now, I take for granted that I have a little space, firstly in Shrewsbury and then in Wolverhampton, where I can work and put things on the wall. I don’t actually use my space much as I have always been the sort of artist who carries their studio around with them: in the car, on trains, in cafes and at home. But it is the one stable element that I can use as a base. When I graduate in June, unless I decide to embark on an MA, I will lose that precious space.
One option, post graduation, is to take up residence (aka rent) a space in a studio such as the one in Digbeth (others I know of include Temple Street in Wolverhampton and Participate Contemporary Artspace in Shrewsbury). Doing this means you get a space to work and be based. You can meet regularly with other artists who also have spaces, and generally mix and live in a community of fellow arty types.
The downside, however, is the cold. The studio I visited in Digbeth today was cold. It was bitterly cold.
However, once I had got used to the cold, I became aware of how much interesting and amazing ‘stuff’ was around me: wood, ceramics, sculpture, coffee cups, amps from the 1960s, lamp shades, bits of found object, paint splatters, crafted objects, laptops, words, drawings and paintings. It was like an Aladdin’s Cave of art stuff. I could quite imagine it being a very creative and fun place to work.
So I aspire one day (perhaps after an MA) to, perhaps part time at least, hang out in an artist studio in an abandoned warehouse / supermarket. I would, however, need a cat (or dog) for company. And a bean bag. And a sofa. And lots of velvet cushions. It was good enough for Andy, so it is good enough for me.