A Studio in North Yorkshire, UK.
by Caroline Allen | February 11, 2014
My studio is in Giggleswick, North Yorkshire, UK. I have access to a sunny ceramics studio as part of a one-year residency program facilitated by a lovely old school that was founded in the sixteenth century. I have been here for five months so far. I live in a small village surrounded by grand hills that are littered with limestone outcrops and drystone walls that sketch magnificent line-drawings onto the landscape. A hop in the car and I’m in the lakes and mountains of the Lake District—it’s very rural and spectacularly beautiful.
My studio is actually a classroom. I have twenty-four-hour access to the art department, where I teach ceramics to pupils, age eleven to eighteen, for twelve hours of the week. The best part about the studio is the space. I get to spread out over all of the tables, and this means I can work on a few different sculptures simultaneously. The school is very well equipped and has been incredibly generous in supporting my work. I have access to all the other departments here, including a library, printmaking and textiles department, wood department, and a wood technician. I really enjoy having ownership of the space and have been able to reorganize it to suit my working style. I’ve been doing short artist residencies all over the world for the last couple of years (including three months at the League Residency at Vyt), and am enjoying having a sense of my own space and being more settled for the time being.
The main drawback to working in a classroom is having to store my work safely from inquisitive, probing fingers! There is a lot of cleaning and maintenance to ensure upkeep of the often-cluttered room, which I share with about forty pupils (around ten per lesson). I have to invest a good deal of time in technician duties and preparing the space for my work in order to avoid contamination. I also find the constant interruptions a bit of a distraction to my thinking processes, although I generally do enjoy the company. I’ve never lived anywhere so isolated before and it has been a bit of a challenge to adapt. I also live at the school, and it can feel quite lonely. I miss casual interaction with other artists, having continuous informal critical dialogue about my work and keeping up to date with the current art scene. Being here has made me realize how essential communication is to my practice, the development of my work, and for maintaining energy, momentum, and motivation.
I’m in the studio about five or six days a week, starting from 8.30 a.m. until around 6 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. My days are broken up with lessons, and I really enjoy that disconnection from my own work. I love interacting with the pupils and really enjoy teaching ceramics.
My work is quite large (as big as the kiln will allow). I work conceptually, starting with an idea and then developing it through photography and drawing, which I then translate into objects. At the moment I am working on an installation, illustrating the book Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino.
Because I am a city girl at heart, I enjoy traveling to local cities to explore galleries and museums. I love the Tate Liverpool, but also the museums in Manchester and Leeds. For inspiration and invigoration I like to spend a few days in London. I love the chaotic energy, but I’m always glad to leave again afterwards. In London I really like the Marsden Woo Gallery (who represent many of my favorite artists), the Jerwood Gallery, Pace, and the BP Walk through British Art exhibition at the Tate Britain. I feel very lucky to live in Europe as it’s very cheap to travel, and I have been to some incredible art galleries, from Antwerp to Zagreb. It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to explore the breadth of European art, and with all of this on my doorstep, I am always constantly renewing my love of art.