Aurelie Freoua is an abstract-expressionist from France. Her intention is to catch the instant, extract the poetry and transcribe the indefinable and implicit emotions by giving them a visual dimension, a shape, a colour, a movement, a direction and by playing with contrasts and light. Her work aims at giving substance to the time going and defying limits of consciousness. This deep exploration is her way to approach the truth. [www.aureliefreoua.com]
1. What is your definition of studio space?
I think of a studio as a space where we can express our creativity without any distraction from the external world. The outside world is a source of inspiration where we can experience emotions but when we enter the studio space and close the door, it is time to reflect, focus and create art.
We start a journey where introspection and pure creation exist altogether. We listen to our thoughts and express them artistically through painting, sculpture and mixed media artworks. So, to summarise in one sentence: A studio is a space where we can deeply connect to our inner world, develop concepts, explore ideas and experiment.
2. Collaborative/communal studio spaces are on the rise in London. Do you believe this formula can work?
Of course! My current studio space is an inspiring environment for creativity with a diverse and supportive community of more than 60 artists. It is important for me to have my own space and private zone in order to concentrate well and paint, but I also enjoy the thrill of interaction and vision sharing with my fellow artists and studio holders. Working in the same building allows free-flowing discussions stimulating ideas and opening up our mind to new horizons. We have even organised shows and exhibitions with each other, which is really nice! It is also interesting to hear feedback on new artworks that I have just created. It has been really inspiring to visit all the studios and to discover the practice of everyone during the Open Studio once a year.
3. Do you believe London has an impact on your art?
Definitely yes. I moved to London almost 10 years ago and the impact on my art has been meaningful. I met amazing people and artists here who have played important roles in the evolution of my art practice. London is a dynamic and energetic city offering the chance to learn and grow. There is a lot going on all the time and you can visit great museums and art galleries whenever you wish. Inspiration is around the corner. When I think about this city, this quote from Samuel Johnson always comes to my mind “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”. Over the years, I’ve developed really interesting multidisciplinary collaborations with musicians, poets and dancers as well as some theatre design projects. London has also given me lots of opportunities to exhibit my work (group and solo shows) and to paint live in front of an audience as part of performances.
4. Would you consider moving outside of London?
That day has not come yet. Moving to London has already been a big move for me. Ideally, I would love to have a secondary studio somewhere in the countryside or seaside where I could escape from the city and refresh my mind for a few weeks. It would be a great source of inspiration to paint and create art surrounded by nature and beautiful landscapes. Everyone knows how inspiring the light of the South of France is. But I would also need to come back and feel the energy of London. Travelling to another location is always a nice option to have and changing environment would definitely have an impact on my work.
5. What do you think the future of studio space will look like?
That’s a great question. The future of studio space would include more workshops and facilities; I would imagine studio spaces as a sharing and socialising place where we can explore new techniques and experiment with new materials. I think there should be more events and artist talks organised in studio spaces highlighting a collaborative pattern. Ideally, art studios should be more protected and recognised as valuable for society so that developers can’t destroy them so easily. I’d also like to have more space in the future in order to create bigger artworks as I feel limited sometimes in my current studio. Whatever happens in the future, artists often manage to adapt to situations and to come up with solutions, as we experienced during the lockdown, when we had to quickly find ways to continue our practice.
6. Is there any way we can ensure artists remain in London?
Providing more affordable studios would be a way to ensure artists remain in London. It is not easy for artists to survive from their art in this city, so there should be more support. Another solution would be through residency opportunities and grants for the creative and cultural world. Organising more open studios and exhibitions would draw visitors into the space where artists create and would definitely help them to sell their work to the public and to get more commissions.
7. Is there any specific way you think artists can collaborate and communicate with developers in London to try to maintain the cultural community?
I really like this idea of collaborations with developers and I think there is a strong potential in it. It would be interesting for people to discover art in another way through projects with developers. The cultural community would feel renewed and developers in London would realise the importance of art and culture through those collaborations involving design, murals, aesthetics and architecture. One way could be to make sure that some development assigns a part of the building for artistic purposes. I think it’s all about organising events where everyone could communicate with each other and share relevant information. Connecting developers and artists would definitely be a sustainable way of moving forward and would give a new life to the spaces.