I’VE FINALLY got there with my interior re-design, spending most of the day getting my shelves up in their new position and filling them with books. They really look good; an artwork, of sorts, in their own right. I’m now ready for the joiner to start on constructing my new slimline plan chest/working surface.
The pen and ink sketch is another from one of my 1978 sketchbooks, from the period immediately after I left art college when I lived in the flat. I’m not so keen on artful clutter these days, although even in my new studio I have a green Lyles Golden Syrup tin full of pens on my desk right next to the computer. I’m pretty sure that this the smaller of the two in my drawing.
Also in the drawing: the blue Thermos flask which I took on my travels around Britain in 1979-80 when I produced my sketchbook for Collins publishers. Between that and the coconut is a mug that Mr MacAdam, the pottery and general studies tutor at Batley School of Art, made for me in c. 1969, to demonstrate the processes involved. Sadly that hasn’t lasted as long as the treacle tin. The Muffin the Mule tin half hidden in the background once contained Huntley and Palmers mini iced biscuits (each coin-sized biscuit had a tuft of hard icing on it). The fruit bowl (in walnut?) was hand-turned by my mum at Mr Bailey’s evening class in Horbury in the early 1969s.
I still have the screwdriver. One of my dad’s which to my horror, I bent one day when I’d borrowed it. My dad was very particular about tools! But a bent screwdriver is so useful. I’ve probably used in more than anything else in the toolbox during the past 30 odd years.
By disposing of my old oak plan chest (represented by the cardboard rectangle, bottom right) and going for a new slimline version (white card) I should end up with the studio that I'm after.
THE FAR END of the studio was too dim . . . this end is too bright . . . but I reckon the other wall at this end will be just right.
After all my efforts moving the furniture yesterday, I soon realise this morning that my desk is now in the wrong place because the winter sun is streaming across my computer screen. Yes, I can pull down the blind but what a shame to shut out the view of the garden and Coxley Valley beyond; I’d be much better facing the other wall where I’d only catch the early morning sun. I’m rarely at my desk at six in the morning.
But I don’t want to swap the bookshelves and the desk around as sunlight would soon fade the dust-jackets. No, I could really do with a slimmed down plan chest behind me as I sit at my desk.
I’ve got wonderful 3D programs like Sketchup on my computer but when it comes to re-planning my studio I feel the need to make a simple cardboard plan (above), abandoning metric for the more familiar (to me) option of one inch equals one foot. Ikea have recently introduced ‘Alex’, a six-drawer unit that fits A2 sized paper. Discussing it with Simon the joiner, we decide that putting three of those on a six-inch plinth, with a worktop running along above, will give me the storage that I need for artwork and paper, plus a working space for folding and guillotining the booklets that I still produce in-house.
Tilly proved a restless model when I called at the bookshop this afternoon. Tilly is usually a restless model and she also has a habit of disappearing altogether into her 'den' beneath the desk.
AS I TYPE this the rain is lashing against the studio window and the trees in the wood have been stripped of leaves. It’s been a good day to stay indoors and reorganise my studio. Yesterday evening it occurred to me that if I swapped around my old oak plan chest and my desk, I’d have a better view from the window and, for much of the day better light.
The plan chest is so substantial that it had never before occurred to me that it was movable. Yes, it was quite a job to remove and stack the ten drawers packed with artwork, but I’d slid them back in place by eleven.
The L-shaped arrangement of my desks together at the window end gives me more room to spread around my reference books and sketches when I’m working while around the plan chest at the darker end of the studio, I can build some much-needed shelves for my steadily overflowing books.
But these old books aren’t mine; I drew these in Rickaro’s where they’re celebrating 10 years since the bookshop opened. Local writer Ian MacMillan and cartoonist Tony Husband were the special guests. However Tilly, the bookshop Welsh border collie was not invited!
My studio revamp is in honour of a computer upgrade. Telling the salesman in a busy store that I’m keen to have a machine that can handle graphics, I show him the sketches I’ve been making while I waited in their recently introduced queuing system.
“I thought that I’d have a chance to draw the staff as they gather by a computer to talk to customers but you’re never still!”
“Welcome to our world!”