The Nomadic Studio—Art, Life and the Colonisation of Meanwhile Space
—an enquiry into the role of the artist studio within processes of re–development in cities today that portrays the spirit of an artists’ commune working in temporary urban sites.
Operating as case study, this photographic perspective encompasses a set of vignettes, reflections, facts and fantasies extracted from the lifeworld of a transitional artist led community and its 18 months in creative habitation of a complex of defunct council premises in Bermondsey, South London.
Capturing the nature of such transient spatial interactions, The Nomadic Studio explores and highlights a vital cultural tradition of experimentation and freedom within the increasingly precarious urban zone and the extent to which these temporary artist–run spaces — despite their importance within contemporary culture and the city — are often forgotten.
The Nomadic Studio combines documentary and narrative photographic approaches and portraiture with subjective and staged forms of image making and moves between layers of reality, fact and fiction. The constructed nature especially of the artist portraits reflects an inherent self–awareness and acknowledges a compromised position, the impossibility of revealing a coherent truth in the face of the complexities of these processes. The straightforward idea of the archive is subverted. And yet, looking at them, the artists depicted seem to become all the more real through their performance.
The image sections are accompanied by an index featuring a variety of meta-information – ranging from critical texts to press releases to emails – which provide a dense subtext and offers multiple ways to read the book, including a register of related plates.
A series of texts including interviews with artists Mike Nelson and Fran Cottell, Acme Studios’ Jonathan Harvey and CGP’s Ron Henocq, as well as a visualisation of ‘243 years of loosely connected events’ put the publication in a wider and historical context of processes and practices of bringing contemporary culture into being.
The publication forms a rare document of a temporary artist–led project and is by proxy standing in for other projects and spaces that are not sufficiently represented and therefor fall into oblivion. It is a monument to the fleeting.
The Nomadic Studio is based on the life and work of artists in a not-for-profit gallery and studio space – The Woodmill – in South East London and builds upon the communal satisfaction of creative freedom, the spirit of the individuals involved and the ways in which they inhabited this historically rich site. It was initiated by a group of artists and Southwark Council’s Regeneration department, with support from ACAVA, and occupied a series of ex–council buildings, including a 40,000 sqft office block, an industrial hangar space built in 1901, as well as a set of residential flats inhabited by 20 of the 100 studio artists, for a brief but frenzied 18 months. The buildings in which it was housed are now demolished and replaced by high-end apartments.
The book features work, texts and appearances by Thorbjørn Andersen, Steve Bishop, Ben Burgis, Tamsin Casswell, Adam Christensen, Fran Cottell, Blue Curry, Annie Davey, Claudia Djabbari, Philip Ewe, Mark Fell, Alastair Frazer, Richard Hards, Rowena Harris, Jonathan Harvey, Annie Hémond Hotte, Ron Henocq, Joey Holder, Toby Huddlestone, Emily Hussey, Stuart Middleton, Jasiek Mischke, Mike Nelson, Thom O’Nions, Naomi Pearce, Ksenia Pedan, Richard Sides, Adam Thompson and many others.
Published by: Edition Taube, Stuttgart. ISBN 978-3-9814518-2-5
Supported by: Arts Council England – Grants for the Arts and DAAD German Academic Exchange Service
Colour and abstraction – with Charles, Chris, Claes, Cornelia, David, Douglas, Jimmy, John, Jutta, Mark, Martin, Mike, Paul, Vivianne and William
(studio J. Mischke)
Jasiek Mischke with ‘Euphemistic Motherfucker’
Painter / Annie Hémond Hotte
View from a studio
(George Tingle Estate)
Detail of Claudia Djabbari’s ‘Model’
To make work I. Steve Bishop with ‘Difference between mating parts’
For structural purposes
(Grange Garden construction site)
Artist and Curator / Stuart Middleton, Naomi Pearce
Time and space
Thom O’Nions reading… The Visible And The Invisible by Maurice Merleau–Ponty
To make work II. Thorbjørn Andersen with ‘Geometric projection / no. II’
Ben Burgis, Ksenia Pedan
‘Untitled. Reclaimed framed glass and Wisa board, found office lights’ in: Elena Bajo, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Relational / Proportional
(studio C. Djabbari)
Site / Sight
To make work III. Claudia Djabbari sanding T3 for ‘Volkswagen’
Scene II / Ksenia Pedan
(studio B. Burgis K. Pedan)
Marks / Nick McQueen
Experiments / Angharad Williams, Richard Sides
Work and materials, image and mirror, light, synth, pinapple
(studio A. Williams R. Sides)
Between concrete and steel, courgettes / Emily Hussey
Musing / Ksenia Pedan
Scenery / Philip Ewe, Geraldine (George Tingle House, flat 78)
This England / Richard Hards
(George Tingle House, flat 78)
Champers, straight faces / Emily Hussey, Tamsin Casswell
Emily’s mirror ball
(Dickens Club, Neckinger Depot)
Somewhere. Malcom Gauldie with Ben Parry & Jacques Chauchat’s ‘Balai Mechanic’
Alastair Frazer Public Art: Dr Salter’s Daydream (Diane Gorvin), Bermondsey Wall
Alastair Frazer Public Art: Blue fountain at Café Gallery Projects, Southwark Park
Signs on tarmac
Blue Curry with Archibald and a Keith Haring inspired Banksy dog, framed behind acrylic
Practise and work / Faye Peacock
(Bede Learning Disability Project, Bede Centre, Southwark Park, Bermondsey)
Clearing out the wood workshop / Ben Burgis
Incident / Adam Christensen
Packing up, moving on / Adam Thompson
Burning the remains I / Ben Burgis, Naomi Pearce
Wardrobe / Adam Christensen
(former Neckinger Depot, Neckinger and Grange Walk)