A day in the studio…

David Manley Avatar
(left) September, (right) October – work in progress from the series Weatherland, October 2022

It’s an odd thing – a studio in one’s home.  Inevitably all sorts of things get bound up into the creative process.  For a start there’s the mundane business of moving stuff around and of prioritising activities.  Both the everyday (pot washing, vacuuming and the like) and occasional (prepping for new work, archiving old work and all the equally mundane elements in painting, cleaning brushes, mixing paint and so on).  

(left) November, (right) December

And then there’s the stuff that goes through your head and how that plays out in the way you go about making, the decisions you take.  I’m especially conscious of it at present.  I’m facing up to resolving a group of twelve new pieces in one series (Weatherland) that are pretty well advanced whilst setting out on another group of seven (as yet untitled) that are beginning life as collaged elements.  This last activity is especially poignant today as I’ve just read about the sad likelihood of Kurt Schwitter’s Cumbrian Merzbarn being sold to developers in today’s paper.  My copy of his collected writings is in a very select group of books kept to hand in the studio rather than on our bookshelves and like so many others he has had a massive influence on my thinking about art generally.  I hope that there is still hope it can be saved.

part of the middle shelf…

The other recent event that I’m dwelling on is the afternoon of talks as part of Paint Edgy, an exhibition from CBP that I’m showing in at The Ropewalk in Barton Upon Humber.  Using the Pecha Kucha format there were some 12 or so presentations over a couple of hours or so. A lot of listening to thoughts on painting and several that tackled, albeit briefly, on the notion of edges.  For an old modernist like me the immediate thought is of course formal considerations of the object but for many of the participants (using figuration) it was of ideas regarding liminal places and spaces.  North East Lincolnshire very much lends itself to these kinds of reflection – far from major urban centres (Hull might dispute this, but the bridge adds psychological distance), on a rapidly collapsing coastline and with a equally damaged economy (not likely to improve anytime soon the way politics look as I write!).  It was a fascinating event, 45 CBP members exhibiting (and at least half of them present) plus six guests, several of them there too.  Thanks should go to the Ropewalk for hosting (Tim, Richard & Linda I know were present, apologies to others!) and to Judy Tucker with the unenviable task of keeping everyone to time.

a visitor pondering my On The Margin flanked by (right) Barbara Piersonhttps://www.contemporarybritishpainting.com/barbara-peirson/ (above), Susie Hamiltonhttps://www.contemporarybritishpainting.com/susie-hamilton/ (below) and (left) Marco Callihttps://www.contemporarybritishpainting.com/marco-cali/ (above), Enzo Marrahttps://www.contemporarybritishpainting.com/enzo-marra/ (below) at Paint Edgy.

And lastly in finance there’s a term ‘the tyranny of sunk costs’ – that sense that you’ve invested so much (in all ways) in something you can’t stop – and which quite often pops into my mind as I get increasingly desperate to make more work as old age and infirmity start creeping into my studio! 

When (Quote!), acrylic on placemat, September 2022

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