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Welcome to My Studio

posted Nov 16, 2013, 12:34 PM by Anna-Lena Dubé Fuller   [ updated Feb 2, 2015, 3:15 AM ]

Where do I start a blog? So I am going to take advice from a dear friend, and basically the only blogger I know, David Minogue. He said that the best start is just to write a few lines every day, no matter on what, but just to write. Therefore I am going to aim for brevity, fingers crossed eh?

                I may as well start at a beginning, so welcome to my studio. The garden shed was my father’s domain and this is not the time to go into the complicated nature of my relationship with my late father, but I have always loved and wanted it. The garden is a quarter acre stretched out in a narrow band between a glasshouse on one side and un-developed private property (I.e. a field) to the other, and the shed was a hand-built brick construction all the way down the far end, as far from the house as possible. This distance from the house, the lack of insulation, and over time the deterioration of the window frames leading to rot and insect infestation all counted against it being a practical studio.

Let me paint a picture; the famous Irish weather alternately freezes or forcibly enters through the numerous cracks, the unpainted grey cement is hidden on one side by the interior remains of an old hardwood wardrobe. Ivy creeps in over the corner of the wardrobe where it meets a set of three salvaged presses mounted high on the back wall. All this is packed tightly with all the rotted boxes, jars and plant pots of screws, nails, hinges, nuts, bolts and sundry other bits of rusted metal, dads old photographic equipment, large mirrors, useless tools, ancient audio devices and other parts of the life he left after the divorce. When I went travelling around the world in 2005-6 I packed up twenty-something years of my life and layered all that on top: action figures, VHS tapes, postcards and memorabilia that seemed oh so precious, and four years of art-college: notebooks, carving tools, oil paints, a plaster face mould, giant glass jars, and finally my heavy wooden king size bed frame. On the right, under the main window is an old kitchen chip-board press with a decent counter space that became damp from the rotted window frames and swelled to accommodate an extended family of woodlice. The windows themselves were merely short glass pieces in the same slotted style found in glasshouses, a pane already missing. The view spans the bare cement back wall, an abandoned vegetable patch (with foundations for an extension all that remained of my aborted attempt to make it into a studio several years previously), up to the house in the distance. The spiders begrudge the few last feet by the door where the lawnmower can just about fit.

In 2012 I challenged myself to finally get off my arse and make this shed into a useable studio. I was frustrated with my lack of progress in my own artwork, I had been comfortable with my sewing skills, I had finished my masters and had run out of excuses. Although I would have loved to have joined a studio system I could not afford to leave Rush and rent a studio as well, the shed/studio was my best chance. To add quick context at this point I had started working for Tesco, less than full time (one of the many under-employed in the Irish recession, thankful for a job but unfulfilled) in November 2011. So I did.

I gave away and threw out boxes of stuff, cleaned, cleaned and cleaned. Then I saved my pennies and got a carpenter in to replace all the windows and doors, which I painted in Dr Who Tardis Blue (that should be the official name of oxford blue). So I welcome you to my studio, still freezing in winter, possibly haunted but I have room for shelves, tools and me. And the lawnmower.

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