Andrew Carnie works in a number of studios in and around Winchester. Below are three films documenting Andrew's working methodology. Videography and editing by Alex Carnie, documentary photographer. The attic space at home on City Road operates as a glorified office (where all that ever-increasing art-related bureaucracy takes place), a video editing space, and a place to undertake watercolors and other drawings. The Basingstoke space acts as a store for older work and a workshop for wood and metal and contains a large dark studio for setting up video projection work and the light-based sculptures he is now currently making. He refers to it as the Dark Factory. The Light Factory, set in a car park in Winchester is where he works on larger canvases-paintings and some times on moving light works, with torches magnets and whirring motors.
On Work Spaces, Table Hopping, Studio Hopping
I was talking to John Gillet, head of Fine Art at Winchester School of Art. We were having a conversation on lock down, the effects of coronavirus and talking of access to studios, which co-incidentally, has all been fine for me. I have a glorified office space at home in the eaves where I can work on small-scale paintings and video editing and undertake the countless administrative duties that a contemporary practice entails. Since both my other spaces I use are isolated and I am the only one that uses them, access to them during the pandemic has all been easy once we were able to travel any distance.
For some reason, John and I started talking about tables as spaces of production; as integral to studios. I think I brought them up in the conversation as they are in a sense my favourite ‘spaces’ to work, they are ‘islands’ of creativity. I think I mentioned that I had five in my office and John said “snap’ he had five too. So all equal.
However, for me that was five in my attic studio, it did not count the tables I use downstairs in the house, the kitchen table; the conservatory table, and the table I am working at now in the back room. These are the ones I use when the attic space becomes too hot, like on a day like today when the weather is sunny and the temperature is going to touch 30 outside and hotter inside, in the upper part of the house.
I also have tables at the Basingstoke studio; an old corrugated barn. This studio is what I call the Dark Factory where video projections come to life. where I have one, no two in the ‘projection’ space, four in the office-store-workshop space, no six; there are also the two I have tools set out on, I nearly forgot, oh then there is also the trestles I take outside on occasions to lay a board upon, making a further table space in the sun, to undertake ‘dirty work’ where the dust created can escape into the environment and not onto the stored pieces of work or the sensitive projection equipment. I am more careful now. Historically, I have been known to shape wood using a jigsaw for hours alongside a set up in the studio including the large format Sinar F1 camera I had for photographing specimens on light boxes.
Then there is the Andover car park studio space and it’s tables. A space I am hoping to shortly start exhibiting work in too, as the Coronavirus will mean I need to find alternatives to galleries. So many spaces have closed or are dealing with backlogs of exhibitions. Studios are I feel increasingly going to be showing spaces; places that will feature in Arts Council grant applications as the destinations for final ‘outcomes’ of project work. So in this studio space there are another three tables; a set of watercolours are on one, electronics on another and a further glass top table with catalogues and things to ponder on below, (but a free space for anything that comes to mind to work upon).
Tables are where you can set ideas out, islands for creativity, set above and outside the world we normally inhabit. The studio is one place removed to work in but the table is another level up as a creative place. They provide flat areas to bring things together, to be in, to think on. They can be a clean slate for work, or an organised slate ready to work upon. For example, one of the tables in the market office is already laid out with three or four watercolour palettes; trays of smaller tubes of more expensive pigments; nice rectangles of Hahnemuehle Leonardo 600 gram paper; sets of implements to work the surface arrayed like surgical tools. Other tables are further platforms ready with monitors for computer editing in the attic, or as at Basingstoke, set out to shape wood with drills, bandsaws, sanders, or metal for that matter.
Tables are the happy worlds, where we sit to take on the world; to write, to draw out of ourselves the matters we want to convey. These are platforms to spread one’s ideas upon, to spill ideas over, to become ‘lost worlds’, isolated and safe from the surrounding world. I think here too, of the mesa, the plateau that features in 1912 science fiction novel “The Lost World” by writer Arthur Conan Doyle. Mesa is a Spanish word that means table. These are the imaginary worlds that allow us to survive, to create something outside the real world, to play with reality, to make new realities.
Movement in the whole studio is with the legs, moving around from the table laid out with oils and turpentine, to the canvas on the easel. To move back to see the effect of adding this or that colour. To move forward to squint at a photographic reference. At the “table-studio”, the bottom half of our bodies become immobilised and we work with a ready connection to our brains and draw out ideas to the paper. The table-studio is a space I can work on at any time; the whole studio feels different and is a space I particularly like to work in at a night. When the world has switched off, gone dark, and the sphere of operation is just there, enclosed in an arc of light. I think here of the painter Georges de La Tour, catching his sitters in the studio in a pool of candlelight. This is the totality of the world at that moment. This is the spinning planet in an unfathomably large universe. In this small, lit space we can feel safe and make sense of it all.
In the winter, I evacuate both the Worthy Lane car park space and barn as it gets far too cold and damp to work in either. The thin corrugated walls of the barn don’t hold the heat and the concrete floor seemingly draws the cold from ones feet at an enormous speed. Somehow, the car park space gets very damp: there is probably no damp course in the building. The car park was the site of the old Winchester Cattle Market, and my building was the old Victorian market office and conveniences. Cold is a perennial problem for artists in the UK, as they can rarely afford anything that is not very basic. I think it is a great hindrance to work sometimes, but artists are always migrating, moving studios. As in London where gentrification forces them to move on to cheaper domains.
Change and movement, the new is always good, as long as you can sit at a table and reflect.