Part of our series Artists in Quarantine. We talk about the lives, interests and concerns of artists during the lockdown.
How are you today?
I’m feeling really positive today, the sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day.
Music, really depends on what kind of mood I’m in and how the work is going, but I’ve always got my headphones on in the studio!
Generally, I like listening to instrumental music when I’m working, it really helps me to concentrate and feel totally absorbed in what I’m doing. Recently I discovered the London based composer Angus MacRae and Berlin-based electronic composer Caterina Barbieri, both of whom make quite mesmerising music.
Where do you normally work?
I have always had a career in the arts sector alongside working on my own practice. Just before the lockdown, I started a new job as a Studio Manager at Eames Fine Art in Bermondsey. It’s wonderful to have a job dealing with prints, printmakers and people who are enthusiastic about printmaking! I enjoy being exposed to a lot of different artists’ work every day and learning about their processes of making.
I’ve rented various shared studio spaces in London, but recently set up a little print studio in my garage. I have a beautiful star-wheel etching press which I was lucky enough to buy from the artist Richard Bawden. The press is thought to date back to the late 18th century.
Why do you choose to work there?
It’s where I live! It makes a big difference not having to travel to a studio, allowing me to maximise time for making around my working week. I sometimes have a burst of energy or inspiration and can have a fruitful couple of hours on an evening whenever it strikes, and only have to go downstairs. Being in my own space means I can also be a bit makeshift (and messy) and nobody else will mind!
How long have you been working there?
It’s been a gradual process of getting my space up and running to where it is now, but about 3 years.
What has changed (or not at all!) because of the lockdown?
Slowing down the pace of modern life and thus my approach to making work. I do find being busy quite motivating (“just keep swimming!”) so not having the busy daily routine and whizzing about here and there all the time is a big change.
How does that impact your practice?
Slowing down has given me time to reflect on what I am doing and how I am doing it. I have a tendency to charge forward with new ideas, or work on multiple ideas at once, inadvertently dropping whatever I was working on before. This is usually due to the time frame which is available to me. I have gone through old sketchbooks and ideas which I never resolved or finished and picked them up again. It’s been an opportunity to acknowledge negative habits, refresh things and reconnect with ideas which have gotten shut in a drawer and neglected.
What have you learned/discovered during the lockdown?
I’ve actually taken up yoga for the first time ever. I have been doing a bit every day and the mental benefits, as well as physical ones, have been amazing. Working towards connecting the mind and body has also influenced my practice. It may sound strange but I’ve found that the inhaling and exhaling with movement has helped encourage ideas to flow and not get stuck…I’ve also been thinking about visual ways to represent energy flowing. Maybe it is just getting out of your own head and being in a relaxed state which isn’t always easy living in London!
We’ve also been exploring our local neighbourhood on daily walks, which has been nice to see what’s around you and observing the seasons change. We’ve also discovered a few local businesses which we should support more!
What do you miss the most as an artist?
Going to exhibitions, which is one of my favourite things to do. It’s energising seeing works of art in the flesh. Luckily I caught the Leon Spilliaert show at the RA in early March, which was very inspiring.
What do you miss the most as a fellow human being?
Hugs! And travelling further than my neighbourhood.
See Grace’s work in our shop.