It is already hard now to recall those first feelings in the Studio. My workshop at home sounds a more artisanal thing than artist’s space although I no longer make functional items regularly. Here was a mix of amazement, anticipation, questioning, wariness, delight. What did I have here? Little, it seemed, apart from remnants of the previous occupant, a Product Designer, who left long red strings from the lighting gantries, a few origami light shades for mini bulbs and a useful workbench. The strings, now carefully kept for an odd continuity, needed an ultra tall ladder for removal, and all else has been swept way – good antidote for my fantasy of occupation, only to be for a miniscule moment in the life of this great place.
Looking around provided cues and clues – the floor, hard echoey concrete, has marvellous patterns of a kind that appeal to me: curves and lines, wet sand patterns in swirling waters.
The cover for the computer terminal is definitely my style. A huge board on a major wall, 6 or 7 m high, asks for an installation but hanging anything will involve the ladder men again, or even scaffolders. Lao’s wobbly red shelves, also kept, are empty. I start to keep my coffee cups with their clear white spots. Until I have materials everything is precious.
Outside are clues: posters on the wall of the Science Museum apply to me here. I am in ‘A World of Cracking Ideas’, maybe not the one Wallace and Grommit inhabit but who is to say? I am surrounded here by ‘cracking ideas’. All the exhibits, as I walk to and fro, getting lost in those early days, shout ‘ ideas, ideas’, mine in immediate response but centuries of ideas from others, the collectors, curators, the public, donors who have built the collections.
“Extraordinary Collections’ applies equally here, in spades, and I look forward to getting brief but important glimpses into the Stores with help from one or two Curators. A treat in store.
So here I am for 6 months, several weeks already gone, feeling I am in tune with the wall opposite saying ‘Fly me to the Moon’. Here I am, flown to the moon, with a whole new way of living, being metropolitan for the first time since being a student, being largely in one place, also novel in a freelance life, being surrounded with specialists whose scholarship I much admire and whose conversation I enjoy, varied teaching with a range of groups plus the visitors from whom I am already learning so much. Can I keep up, I wonder?