Spotlight on an artist’s studio

Throw Pots Not People is a fortnightly column about life, creativity and the world we live in, written by Taranaki artist Marita Green.

Last week I was asked, via Instagram, if I had any ‘gems of suggestions’ for setting up a pottery studio.

The query came from a US potter who included a pic of her carefully sketched studio plan.  It had been prompted by a snapshot of my own recently-cleaned studio (being such a rare occurrence I thought I’d document the event for future posterity with a photo).

It’s so clean!

The short answer, I replied to her bemusedly, was that no I didn’t have any worthy advice, given that my own space was such an ill-planned and cobbled-together affair. And that’s beside the fact that it’s usually in a total state of chaos and general mess (cleaning/organising time is non-productive time).

But it got me thinking about artists’ workspaces, doubly so with the Taranaki Arts Trail approaching, when lots of us will be opening our personal making-spaces to the general public.

And this is how it gets messy again…

Over the years, my ‘studio’ has been any place I could find to make stuff in.  Mostly it hasn’t been a dedicated space like I have now. Its been the kitchen table, the lounge floor, a corner of the garage.

I have competed for space with our young family in our first 90m2 home (where I made my first exhibition). And I clearly remember knitting lace socks while on a RNZAF Hercules flight to Christchurch – I was a junior naval officer, dressed in grey overalls, combat boots, earplugs (OSH due to the noise), perched on a webbing seat. What I would do now to have a photo of THAT for posterity.

Finding a suitable place to make things in has definitely influenced the sorts of things I’ve made (no wheel-throwing of clay in a military cargo plane), but it’s never stopped me from actually making.

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Just put this little lady together.

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This little doll is one of the things I made before I had a proper studio.

Conversely, I’ve had quite a few people lament over the years that their lack of a formal, organised space to use for their creative practise (ie a studio) prevented them from making work. I agree that for a professional artist a studio is a necessity, but not having one doesn’t have to stop art from being made. 

I’m sure that there will be more than one stunning studio open in Taranaki next month, but equally so, there will be many ad-hoc spaces like my own; modestly carved out of suburban routines, staunchly providing artists of all sorts a place to make their magic.

As for the luxury of a pre-planned, ergonomically designed, purpose-built artist haven, I told my Californian friend that the only thing I really had any confidence in recommending was…good light.

  • The Taranaki Arts Trail runs from June 9 to 11. For more information you can visit the website.

Throw Pots Not People is a fortnightly column about life, creativity and the world we live in, written by Taranaki artist Marita Green. You can follow Marita on Instagram.