“It’s about finding a balance and creating a model that perhaps gives a sustainable return, but not a mega return, because you have a value system that might be changing from sort of huge profits to medium profits and nurturing the community around you.”
Jane Clatworthy is a figurative artist based in Earlsfield, London. Her work is based primarily on the male form, exploring concepts of masculinity and vulnerability. It encourages questions and dialogue on the validity of the continuing stranglehold of the patriarchy on today’s culture. In particular, how the nude male body still remains behind almost impenetrable walls of censorship and taboo. [janeclatworthy.com]
What is your definition of studio space?
Well, I think because I’m a painter, the first requirement to me obviously has got to be good light. There’s got to have been some thought put into that. It has got to have plenty of wall space because most of us use the walls as our easels. And then of course, it’s a really great way to store paintings when they’re done. I paint with quite a lot of mediums so well ventilated. In my particular case, because I have naked bodies in my studio, it needs to be warm and heated and it needs to be private.
But it’s also important that the door can be open and I’m part of an artistic community because I think that, for me to be surrounded by other creatives is actually part of what I do. I mean, we all feed off one another and there’s a dynamic. We’re swapping information about the art world, what it is to be an artist, you know, it’s all of that sort of give and take of being in a like-minded community is important.
That’s my next question. Collaborative communal studio spaces. Do you believe that formula can work?
Not only do I believe it can work I think it’s actually quite critical. Because artists, in their very nature, are solitary people. We spend huge amounts of time in deep solitude often. It is nice to come out of that time and actually sit down and have a coffee or have lunch, or, you know, just go and be with a group of people that are on your wavelength. Like any business I suppose, we are actually technically all businesses and we will get to, to just, you know, work.
Do you believe that London has an impact on your art?
I think for me, yes. I always think that, being one of the main cities, London for me feels like the centre of the art world. Everything here is accessible, the galleries, the people, the culture. I think to be a successful artist, you have to go out, you have to network, you have to go to private views. You have to support your fellow artists and their shows. A lot more of that happens, somewhat intensively in London. It would be sad if lots of studio space was lost because obviously, artists from further afield can’t make it in and can’t be part of this huge constant conversation and the dialogue that you’re having with the buyers, gallerists, and with other artists. That conversation is important to everyone’s work.
Would you consider moving outside of the city?
Yes, at some point, but I think because I’m pretty new and at the start of my artistic career, believe it or not, I just couldn’t do what I do outside of London.
I suppose if I lived in one of the big cities like Manchester, Edinburgh, of course, I could, but there is something about being in London. It feeds the creativity. I think I’m trying to find a way as to why London and not one of the other big cities, I just think it really is essential in the art world down here. Everything happens here, it really does.
So then do you think it would impact your work if you were to move out?
Yes, I think it would. Certainly, I would have less ability to get the models that I need, with my work I focus on the male nude. So there’s just no shortage of accessible and fabulous life models down here. To move out, I think it would be a lot more difficult to find the reference and the bodies I need to do what I do.
What do you think the future of studio space will look like?
Hopefully more studios like the one I’m in is going to become available where developers, and this might tie into your last question, where developers instead of just thinking of the quickest way to make money, start thinking and building into their thought process what it is to create a community and what it is to enhance the culture of a city. So it’s a changing value system that’s required whereas before it was just you know, let’s just take an old shed slap paint on it and let’s get the maximum rental for desperate artists. The guys that developed a studio that I’m in actually said, ‘Okay, well, what makes the perfect studio?’
So if I think in a world now, where we might actually have a changing value system, where developers start thinking more in terms of the society and the culture rather than the quickest way to make money, and the guys that built the studio that I’m in actually did that.
They had an existing building, and there were studios and they’ve actually developed a whole new part of the buildings. Both parts of the building are for artists, but the new studios were really specially built with creating a Southwest London artistic hub. So my studio has got amazing LED lighting, I mean, it’s one of the few studios that doesn’t actually have natural light, but you don’t notice it because they invested a lot of money in putting in the most perfect light for painters and it’s centrally heated. The rental includes all of this and the studios are accessible 24/7, which is very important because we work at all times.
Now a lot of artists have day jobs and sometimes work through the night, so studios need to be accessible and then because of that, secure and safe. Oftentimes, I am here very late and sometimes I might be the only person in the building, but I always feel safe. They are perfectly maintained, they have cleaners that come in every night, we have kitchens that have all the equipment. We as artists are literally free just to think about our practice. You don’t have to worry about who’s cleaning the toilets or whether there’s washing up liquid, you know, it’s all part of the package. And I have to say, we’re all really happy with our studio space.
How do you believe we can ensure artists remain in London in the future?
Creating more of these spaces. I think young artists coming out of art school need to be part of an artistic community. There is a sort of bouncing off one another that feeds and fuels all of this spirit. So more spaces, and they’ve got to be affordable. There’s a fine line between making your studio too expensive for the young creators or something so savvy that creating in it becomes difficult.
So it’s about finding a balance and creating a model that perhaps gives a sustainable return, but not a mega return, because you have a value system that might be changing from sort of huge profits to medium profits and nurturing the community around you. I think it’s making more spaces available for artists to easily work and collaborate and be together is what I think needs to happen.
And you sort of answered my last question, but if you have any more to contribute to it? How do you think artists can collaborate and communicate with developers in London to try to maintain the cultural community?
I think there’s got to be a mindset change within the developer’s mind. They are the ones who are going to have to change, because let’s face it, young artists can’t. It is very difficult for artists, unless they get together to actually push up against the mega wealth of the developers, what really needs to change is this particular mindset. Perhaps, more conversations with developers and artists. Perhaps this is a forum for it, you know, with your website where developers might be encouraged to start the dialogue.
Definitely what you’re doing, I think, is a step in the right direction just like the developers of the studio that I’m in, who really thought beyond the profit and were community minded and wanted to nurture London’s culture.
Creating that space to have that dialogue is fantastic.