Urban Dialogues Submission and Creative Musings on the Matter of Studio Space – Plus Joanne Greenbaum and Thomas Berding interviews

June 27, 2013

Urban Dialogues

Just working on something to submit to “Urban Dialogues” Open Call.  At a networking meeting organised by the various organisations involved with “Urban Dialogues” one person revealed that he had come along because he liked the sound of the title”Urban Dialogues”;  He thought it sounded cool, interesting and hip. (Wow, that word places me in the sixties, I think!)  I know what he meant.  Having spent a lot of time in the more urban surroundings of Central London over the last couple of years, the word “Urban” has taken on a new visual meaning for me, as my eyes have taken in the sights and sounds of the city, and pushed geometric forms deep into my subconscious.  I am working on something very rooted in this urban experience, and I have decided to connect my creative writing with my creative imagery for my submission, well, at least one of them anyway.  I’ll post that work up when it is done.

In the meantime, I am working in the house.  Yes, pure domestic bliss.  It’s interesting that my relationship with my kitchen has been totally transformed since deciding to think of it as firstly a studio and then a kitchen, rather than the other way around.  Yes, in many ways I can see the value of a cut off place in which to retreat into the realm of visual creation, into a writing space insulated from the outside world, from activity, from distraction.  But I cannot deny, despite my previous moaning and groaning  regarding lack of a studio, that, with the right mind set, the proximity of my studio space, indeed, it’s very complete merging into my domestic realm, is not a hindrance, but rather a help.  The only hindrance is that of the perception (not held by all, but held by some) that it is somehow “less” or means I am less serious about my work…  The reality is I do not possess the time or money for an alternative space right now.  And, what I have works.  Problems can be solved…I have set up a drying space for my oils in the outhouse and while size is restricted, right now I want to push my painting forward in such a way that it is better to work a little smaller than my ideal.  I have enough room in the kitchen to teach four people, which is my preferred number of people to work with anyway.  There is the bind of getting stuff out and then having to put it away of course, but I have a lot of things, and often forget where they are, so the putting away often means I will have a little look around the cupboards and this sometimes means I find things I didn’t know I have.  This is not a bad thing!

There is something very good about having an integrated approach to my work.  To understand that is is not disconnected from anything else I do, think or say in life.  The mixing of domestic activity with my painting has born it’s own unexpected fruit for me.  Because of the need to work in a piecemeal fashion, I have developed a very organic and process based way of working which while it is not my only approach, has opened the door to some very interesting passageways of thinking, and given my painting a kind of inner core that I don’t think I would have found any other way.  There is something about having a painting which evolves over a long period of time, and which experiences it’s own very slow genesis, which simply is not possible any other way.  In the kitchen studio, work hangs on the wall for many minutes, days, and hours of reflection, among the other activities of life, and it doesn’t suffer for this, rather, there is more time to mull over and ponder, to think without any need to act.  If suddenly something needs to be done, then there is always a handy plate or bowl to put the paint in, and make a swift move into the work, while still attending to the dinner or whatever else is happening.  This is not a bad thing; it is very good indeed.

One day, I do hope for defined studio space.  But, to not be possessive about my working space is my lot, and always I am most grateful  for the materials I have and the time I manage to spend with my work.  If it doesn’t carry an impression of serious endeavour with it, then I feel one should ask what it is about the domestic environment which makes it somehow “less”.  Could this be to do with some perceptions regarding the value of the home environment? (And possibly, also the value/influence of women who work in this defined space?)  I may be getting a bit overly analytical here, (and I am reacting to some negative comments I have encountered about my lack of studio and the impression it may give), but is it fair to equate a lack of studio with a lack of serious endeavour?  Surely this is more to do with a lack of money/physical space than anything else?  Thankfully, space dissolves as a problem in the actual painting process, as I can make it exactly what I want it to be!   I have more of a space problem with respect to my copious notebooks, sketchbooks, pieces of paper, reference materials, second-hand art books, found objects, snippets of every and any kind…

Joanne Greenbaum by Jeremy Sigler Interview – A Quote from Joanne Greenbaum

“The most conceptual, theoretical, strategic thinker is also going on intuition on a certain level. Just because my work is loose and hand-drawn, it doesn’t necessarily translate into being intuitive. There are a lot of ideas about painting here. I think there is not great language out there for the purely visual, and art historians and others try to describe something that is so inherently preverbal. So that’s where the word intuition comes in. I think it’s the wrong word for a type of thinking that can be very deep but ultimately unexplainable.”

This lovely, relaxed and very natural interview between Joanne Greenbaum and Jeremy Sigler can be found here:


There’s a lot of wisdom here I think.

Interview with Thomas Berding

As there is here…Thoman Berding has identified several aspects of the way I have conducted/now conduct  my own work which are helpful to me;

Christopher Lowrance: Tell us about one useful thing you learned for yourself…

“All artists who do anything really interesting teeter on the edge of not knowing. To be a studio artist is to embrace that condition or at least acknowledge that as a fundamental position. The studio is a grand experiment and rarely a place to confirm or depict what is already known-but rather it is a place to speculate and propagate new awareness, albeit from a base of knowledge, insight, or what we inherit. The most important thing is to collect and notate things of interest (work, experiences, images, and color etc..) and use this as a jumping off point. Then, one must understand how these things work their way through the filter that is painting.”

I also find Thomas Berding’s comments about therapy and painting interesting.  Having spent last year using some of my work (not all) to explore my psyche, maybe sometimes in quite a cathartic way,  I am currently experiencing a shift in approach which Thomas Berding does identify very well in this interview I think.  I think that both the approaches together are important, but in terms of pushing my painting forward, Thomas Berding has certainly clarified and helped me to see what has started to happen of late:

Thomas Berding:  “While art is my passion and profession, it is never therapy. It can be problem solving and of course, problem creating. These days the studio is filled with more looking and decisive action, rather than being an extroverted search with brush in hand, an approach that characterized much of my earlier working years.” (my emphasis)

And look at his paintings!  How exciting they are and how you can see the fruits of his decisive action.  I can appreciate their presence even on screen.  This is strong and inspiring painting for me to see right now.   See some of Thomas Berding’s paintings and read the interview, which is very inspiring indeed:


I am sure there is some other facility here on WordPress to rave about this, but I will stick with this method for now, until I know otherwise!

How interesting to read both of these interviews…Very different in style but working so well with their own approach.

The interview by Christopher Lowrance relates to the following exhibition at The Painting Centre


Feeling this post needs a picture

Ahh, it just doesn’t feel right, all this writing with no image.

"pillar and moon" paul nash painting imaginative interpretation,jenny meehan jamartlondon.com lyrical and geometric abstraction modern contemporary british female painter,process led painting uk,

I’ve got this painting up on the wall right now, and it’s nudging me gently into doing some more painting!

I WAS planning a group of paintings based on gardens…But have decided I have too many weeds in my actual garden and therefore need to spend a lot of time with that…So suddenly the thought of painting gardens has gone out the window, and instead I am working on imaginative landscapes again, devoid of boundary walls…I don’t know.


One Response to “Urban Dialogues Submission and Creative Musings on the Matter of Studio Space – Plus Joanne Greenbaum and Thomas Berding interviews”

  1. jennymeehan Says:

    Please note that http://www.jennymeehan.co.uk no longer exists.
    Take a look at my website http://www.jamartlondon.com for more painting, drawing, digital imagery and other artworks by Jenny Meehan. You could also sign up as a follower on this WordPress.com Jenny Meehan Contemporary Artist’s Journal Blog and fill out the contact form at http://www.jamartlondon.com to receive my bi-annual newsletter.

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