Today in the Studio

Black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia) (Suzie Hybrid)

I love my local shops. They enable a lifestyle that’s as efficient as life can be given the vast number of people who need to be fed and clothed in central London. I’m waiting in for a component for a sculpture I’m building (said component could not be found in the UK) and then I’m off to say hello to all my local non-essential retailers. 
The picture on the left, however, expresses the reason I live in the city (the shopping is the sustenance; nature is the soul food) sunlight on the park trees, here silver birches, Betula pendula

Upper Regent Street looking particularly bike and foot friendly for visitors to all those open shops from 15 June
The formal (flower bed) and the informal (kerbside rain garden): both work in the city
A calming image from Charlotte Street. Its message? Declutter

Rolling pillows of cloud
I can't say they're not beautiful, but what I notice about them is that they are unusual.

I think we might use the word 'pinguid'. Saw a slightly pinguid bloke, wearing a beautifully handmade white shirt, ride his bike along Oxford Street. Steady as a rock, creating his own breeze as he went, losing weight in the most realistic way possible once you've put it on, increment by increment.

Some lovely civil engineering projects we need to know about hat tip to Londonist and the Institution of Civil Engineers London People’s Choice award. I won't do a spoiler and tell you who won. Have a read.

How does it look?

Hand-dyed polymeric and gold vermeil ring

Just so you know how we're coping in London

A great architect can build new while framing old

Open storage system for bedroom or dressing room

Let me warmly recommend these food angels
value for money and everything you need they even stock flour and baking ingredients
PS I don't even eat asparagus, but this display in a giant bathtub-like asparagus cooker is just such a lovely sight, especially in lockdown

Restaurants in lockdown, ever-conscious of their image, are taking care of their window displays notice the  rosemary in flower. Some are opening for takeaway service.

Fridge door monster

"The sign of a great city: a city you can walk in"* (and run and cycle in). NB: shot at 11.30 am - the shop opens at noon on Sundays
and it will be filled** with those who came on bikes or on foot every single day.

* I believe the first person who said this was Brent Toderian, one of the heroes of our time
** observing social distancing of course and, as with other retailers, only the Food Hall is open

These bloom a few meters from the blare, choking chemistry and cacophony of the Euston Road 

Blue skies!
Blue for health. Blue for the NHS. Building sites are catching up with work they've had to postpone. They are all now making London even more beautiful, even more productive, and even more visitable for when lockdown eases. Pollution levels are still low. The sites are all properly wetted down of course so that any dust (which is mostly large particle dust that doesn't float around much) can be swept up and disposed of.In the studio? We made some face masks

Have you tried eye smiling yet? You know, you are trekking along wearing your mask and you encounter a fellow human being wearing their mask. Glances are exchanged but you realise that what they need and you need is a smile. So you smile back. With your eyes. And they smile back. With their eyes.

Today's studio work happens to be about eyes. They're something that needs to be thought of early. If you've worked up a fabulous head or a fabulous mask (just the front of the face) and you then realise that what it wants is a gleam behind the eyes, or a particular gaze, you then have to unpick your work to achieve that. I'll show you later.

A climbing plant comes up for light. I can only guess what it is. Perhaps you know?

Requests welcome. Which central London / Oxford Street marvel would you like to see today, gentle reader? I have my camera ready.

Your blogger on her walks is enjoying not only the added sunshine but the beauty of the built environment released from its previous layer of traffic. I've left room for a bit of nature below which I will add later.

A local flower shop. Shut of course but they come in to care for the plants.

People's body language is changing (one for you behavioural scientists) as they experience the freedom of crossing the street without being aggressed by vehicles. It's a freedom cyclists and cargobike riders already know. The image shows the immaculate Oxford Street, tree-shaded and calm, as a man crosses to the Marks and Spencer Pantheon food hall. A food hall that gleams with the colours of fresh produce, it will be open throughout the coming Bank Holiday. More shops will open soon. Oxford Street is transforming into a street you want to brush your hair and polish your shoes to visit.

Can I share this with you?

The banana bread. Quite close-textured (I forgot to add the walnuts) but yummy. The walnuts themselves will soon become a whizzed up nut butter. Treat yourself. We don't allow of any failures in baking, just as we don't allow of any failures in art.

Spent some time on Tuesday afternoon during the measuring out of the ingredients for the Banana Bread
which the breadmaking machine was going to mix and bake just staring out of the window at the blueness of the sky.



Loved this on page 23 of The Telegraph today:
"My top tips for perfect sourdough bread.
1. Go to supermarket.
2. Buy loaf of sourdough bread.
   It's so quick and easy, and you never need to worry about not finding any flour. I'm surprised more people aren't doing it."

Michael Deacon, Letters from Lockdown


Nothing stirred

Next week: online chats with students missing their art lessons

Julia Stoschek's Chocolate Cake (courtesy of Artnet)

"Prominent German art collector Julia Stoschek is known for her focus on time-based work, and video art in particular. [She launched] her public collection in 2007. Her newest hobby? Baking."

The details of the built environment that are so easily missed

The details of the planted environment that are so easily missed

Blue skies over London
and Leiden. Here's how the Dutch and their cats are weathering lockdown:

Pleased to say the prototype sofa presently being developed in-house passed its crumb and stickiness test after the tarte aux abricots experience yesterday.

Lockdown certainly has a strange affect on the appetite sometimes. Yesterday, to accompany the 'tea test', I consumed large quantities of a travesty of long shelf-life fakedom called 'Tarte aux abricots' just because.

Wednesday's task stress testing my new sofa. I will be sitting on it, working on it, and enjoying a cup of tea on it. No pics as yet. Additional points for the ZOOM-20 multidesk shown below. You can work at it in the standing position, or pair it with a nice height-adjustable stool. If you're feeling really indolent after too many virtual meetings you can pair it with a comfortable chair of your choice.

Light: Here it is in relation to plants:

All Earth's places are special but some seem to be more special than others, either made that way or that way from the beginning. Some you notice, even if you don't know quite 'why' (and this doesn't matter a bit; it's the feeling that counts), and some you might notice if, during lockdown, you slow down a bit to savour each moment.

The picture left shows an 'introduced' special. Heavy iron railings on a refurb are relieved by the fact that the basement lights are angled at 45 degrees so that they reflect the street trees. 

Three pictures down, the newly planted young tree also marks something special. It stands near the corner of a London Square so that light comes to it from two directions. That is always special, either outdoors like this or indoors if you have a room with a corner window
again, light coming from two directions.

Announcing: the one and only ZOOM-20 multidesk

It rotates, it wheels, it allows you to Zoom, write or draw. It stores your kit, there's a perch for your coffee cup and it can act as a gentle momento mori

Reading day: Thomas Lovejoy in The Guardian speaking truth "We did it to ourselves" (warning: pic shows live animals in cages)

PS I've given up adding dates and days for now

A pic of some Marylebone attics (far left I hope they have nice views from up there). And to the right of the pic a most beautiful arts and crafts corner building of perpendicular aspect which the ground floor retailers have jointly vandalised with their unsympathetic fascias and choice of paint.

For your blogger, any sense of 'mindfulness' or even half-mindfulness at the moment seems absurd. Who wants to go around with a mind full of "fret fret, fret fret fret"? For me, it seems more sensible to get out for a walk or a bike ride (within the restrictions of lockdown of course) and get into the body. Lengthen the stride, deepen the breath, notice the things around you rather than the fret within. I've been varying the route I take to the local food shops and taking a couple of quick pics as I go. One day today for instance I might go for architecture, the next day nature in the city. The walking somehow creates a sympathetic physical space within that quietens the mind.

Late afternoon light but I hope you can see what is before you? A young tree, nursery grown and newly planted with the love of a parent or guardian (as indeed that is their role) by the plantsmen and gardeners. The tree? The tree of life? Listen, gentle reader, all trees are the tree of life. And I think we might also note that the structure of the tree is an upside down version of the structure of the lung tree.

Stonehenge and similar sites evolved from the earlier Woodhenges. The ancient joining methods mortise and tenon would have evolved there. Now we have ever more evolved methods of connecting and communicating: we are all part of using them or formulating them. We could also refer to this stream of evolution as problem-solving. You want the roof to stay on your hut and your hut to stay upright; your peers to read your report; the customer to buy your puddings or the head to stay on your sculpture? Problem solve; evolve; learn to join things successfully.

I love the idea of using ancient making methods. The thrill of workmen using the 3000-year-old pulley system to raise and lower loads; the sculptor using tenon (the peg) and mortise (the hole it fits into) to join an arm or leg to the main body. Here's where it all began in the UK and I am extremely indebted to English Heritage and their photographer Nick White for the image mortise and tenon used to secure the lintels of Stonehenge.
English Heritage

The London plane (Platanus x hispanica) its leaves are just starting to open as it absorbs the light giving us the chance to admire its sculptural qualities.

Part of a work I started earlier needs completing so I've assigned it for today. It's always more exciting to start something new but at the same time I know that in going back to something old I will 'discover' something new. Check back later.

Sunday in the Studio
The studio today is the sky !  Has anyone ever seen a sky so blue in London? And as if that weren't enough, the sight of red London buses, each one sparkling clean inside and out, keeping to their timetables. Oh, London.

The Zoom desk 61 cm (2 feet) high so that
the camera is at eye level when you're seated
However you use Zoom or an equivalent and I think rather a lot of us do, including mildly afflicted  technophobes like your blogger
a protocol is starting to emerge:

  • try to be on time to your Zoom meeting
  • try to reduce the time you need to log on
  • express gratitude for time spent being helped by your more experienced Zoom colleagues

As with most things designed for small spaces, my Zoom desk is intended to serve several purposes. Tuck the laptop into one of the side apertures and the top becomes a writing or drawing desk.There is storage underneath for the instruments of both and room for an A2 sketch pad. The top part also rotates so that you can pan the camera. And there's a perch for your coffee cup. Orders to . . .

Thursday in the Studio
Trying to find art materials online in this case a particular ink can be frustrating. The just in time 'out of stock' message is just as prevalent as on the ground, plus even art materials have been subject to lockdown pressures. Just have to keep trying and remembering to note down any brand names because it makes searches easier. 

In the meantime I managed to attend a Zoom art meetup with the artist Franceska McCullough. We talked about the work of Edgar Degas. Franceska is running these meetups regularly so take a look.

Wednesday in the Studio
Much coffee is needed to get me up this morning (insert your own emoji here). I slept badly. Ah, but thanks to White Cube's Instagram account (below) I now know I share the same taste in coffeepots as Tracey Emin. The Bodum 8-cup. While I think of it, here's a comment from yesterday about selling the products of one's labour. Ask yourself

"Would I buy from myself"

Tough but completely nails it. 

Tuesday in the Studio

Amid the darkness, this is what I try to keep my eyes on

Monday in the Studio

Curvaceous geometry
An attic conversion is an attic conversion, isn't it? Until you see this one from near Antwerp. It's from my favourite design site Dezeen. The architect Johan Van Staeyen has taken the curve and completely aced it as "relaxed geometry".

Curved lines do generate a more relaxed feeling than straight lines . . . The yin and yang sign, the infinity-sign, the treble clef are good examples of symbols with curved lines.
Gorgeous, isn't it?

Into lockdown's fourth week. Good luck everyone. Here's Tracey Emin's view, courtesy of White Cube. For myself, I'm just being lazy. Today I am 'building in' function: making sure tools and materials are together by type and within reach for whatever I am making. Later I will show you some cuddly geometry, the work of some Belgian architects. You need to get your feed set up ⇱

Sunday in the Studio

Ideas come from the world around us. They then transform, in their own time, to become the material of art.

Friday in the Studio

The topic of the day? WFH floors. If you read the Doron Langberg piece from Artnet in Tuesday's entry below you will have seen that he covers the studio area of his Brooklyn apartment with heavy white plastic sheeting before he takes the cap off a single paint tube. Quite right. It's a perfect way to work and not get paint all over the apartment. The apartment is not the 'work' the work sits on the easel. I have also worked like this at Tate Modern* but it's not ideal for someone who is as clumsy footed as I am.

I go with the industrial lino option: a sitting room floor that has been covered in rubber studded flooring from the beginning. I just don't like carpet. I especially don't like having to clean carpet. So I always tend to go for function first.

Look at that beautiful surface. Cover it with newspaper if a lot of paint is involved or you're working with paint spray.

* at an excellent sculpture course with Sean Doyle

Thursday in the Studio

I'm starting to teach fine art and design part-time. I love it. But with no students coming in because of COVID-19, I am just amazed how fast the Studio space morphs into well, take a look

So, a wonderful chance here to tidy up. Note the floor covering; I discuss WFH floor covering above.

Wednesday in the Studio


Pigeon seeks a haircut - or perhaps a blowdry

Tuesday in the Studio
As April advances, no country has yet declared an end to lockdown. We are staying at home.

This is artist Fred Tomaselli's at-home set up (courtesy of White Cube)

My Workspace

Fred Tomaselli

I’m here trying to make drawings, trying to work with the news of the day, and doing the best I can in a portable situation. It’s small but I managed to get a printer here, and set up a table where I can cut and paste and paint. […] It’s not such a bad place to be, I’ve got a nice backyard I can go out into when the weather is warm [...] I’m just going to make art and try to stay positive.

Sally Crawford Art and Design: Artists are having to make do with organising a corner of their sitting room, or kitchen, or wherever they can find enough room to set up an easel and work from home. 

I've done it. As soon as I found out the asking price for studio space in London plus the length of time I'd spend getting to and from that studio space I decided that part of my small sitting room the light is perfectly adequate was going to have to serve. No high temperature work is possible but I haven't found it difficult to use day workshops if I need a kiln or to do some metal casting.

Have a look at Doron Langberg's studio space (courtesy of Artnet)


The art world may be working remotely, but it certainly does not stop. During this unprecedented time, we're checking in with art world professionals, collectors, and artists to see how they are working from home. 

Artnet recently caught up with the painter Doron Langberg, whose solo show at Yossi Milo gallery last year, “Likeness,” was a highlight of the fall exhibition calendar. Born in Israel and now based in Manhattan, Doron’s sensuous canvases delight in painterly touch and explode with color. Often featuring multiple figures, his paintings are deeply intimate and a celebration of queer sexuality—and have made him one of the most talked-about young painters in New York. You may have seen his work on display at New York’s Armory show, and he’s currently working towards a solo show at M+B gallery in Los Angeles this fall.

Where's your new "office"?

My husband and I live in a one bedroom, so he’s on one side of our dining slash living area and I’m on the other. Half of our dining table is my drawing studio and the corner where we keep our kitchen appliances is my painting studio, which I just set up today.

How has your work changed now that you are doing it from home?

I usually work from observation, where a friend would come to the studio or I would go to their place and make a small painting, which I then use as source material for my larger works. Since social distancing is not ideal for painting from life, I started making small drawings from older photographic source material I had. Actually, this was my process over ten years ago when I started working with sexual subject matter. It’s been amazing to connect again with the “core” of my practice and I already have a few ideas for larger works based on these drawings. I even snuck out to studio the other day and started one!

What are you reading, both online and off?

One thing I’m not reading is the news. I feel so inundated with information right now, in order to not go crazy and concentrate on my work I have to shut a lot of it out. Off my computer and phone I’m reading See Under-Love by Israeli author David Grossman. I’m only a third way in, but right now he’s writing about Bruno Schulz—a Jewish artist and writer who was killed by the Nazis—who happened to be from the same town in Poland as my dad!

Have you taken up any new hobbies?

Does Zooming count? I’m in the process of organizing an art auction to benefit Food Bank for NYC, which has me glued to my computer much more than usual.

What is the first place you want to travel to once this is over?

MY STUDIO! I’m having serious studio withdrawal. Very jealous of all the artists that have home studio set ups right now who can continue working as usual.

If you are feeling stuck while self-isolating, what’s your best method for getting un-stuck?

I’m pretty much a homebody as it is, so I rarely feel “stuck” at home. But I have been pretty anxious these days about what the art world will be like on the other end of this, and for my husband who is a doctor. To keep all these thoughts in check I’ve been going on jogs which help clear my head and calm me down. 
“Likeness” installation view. Courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery.

Doron Langberg, Kyle, Robert, and James (2019). Courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery.
What was the last TV show, movie, or YouTube video you watched?

I’ve been watching The Crown, which is perfectly boring. I love mindless, silly shows that help me fall asleep. I recently gave up on Gossip Girl because the drama between Serena and Blair was just too much for me. 

If you could have one famous work of art with you, what would it be?

Wow, just one?! I’d love a war-time Morandi flower still life right now—a symbol of isolation and introspection during dire circumstances. Although there are suggestions he was a Fascist sympathizer—Mussolini even owned one of this pieces I think! 

What are you most looking forward to doing once social distancing has been lifted?
Hugging my friends!

Have you visited any good virtual exhibitions recently?

I haven’t. I feel like Instagram fulfills this aspect of my art-viewing needs. But I’m thrilled artists and galleries are finding ways to get work out there and make some money during this crisis! 

Sally Crawford Art and Design: We're interested in what other people active in art and design are doing to keep up production during COVID-19. Get in touch in the comments or via sallycrawfordartanddesign[at] if you'd like to share.

No comments:

Post a comment