“As much as London offers a lot of opportunities for exhibiting and acquiring new contacts, which is very important at the early stages of establishing yourself and building your name, once you feel confident and you have enough recognition, it’s good to make a move.”
Andrzej Szymczyk is a sculptor from Krakow. His sculptures are founded in hyper-realism in both human and animal forms. He carefully studies and analyzes the anatomy of every subject to recreate the subtlest tensions of musculature and movement. This allows him to articulate his vision with high levels of accuracy and gives him the deep understanding of physical characteristics to be able to create something new rather than simply replicate existing reality. [www.andrewsculpture.com]
What is your definition of studio space?
Um, I guess it’s a place where I work and create my art. I guess there is a definition, but I never thought of it? For me, it is the most important place, it’s my world. This is more than a home, because this is where I express myself through art and just how I live. Especially for sculptors, it’s a very important place because we carry a lot of stuff with us. Tools, materials, all that stuff is there; I think it’s way more stuff than a painter or a graphic designer or other mediums. With my practice, I’m required to do all sorts of things like wood work, metal work, ceramic, and for all of those things, you need to have a set of tools and materials and it becomes like a workshop that it is it’s own world. Everything’s here. So it’s very, very important.
Collaborative/communal spaces studio spaces are on the rise within London. Do you believe this formula can work?
I believe this formula can work, but not for me. Certainly not for me. I used to work on a commercial project where there were a lot of artists and art technicians working in one space, but they were working towards one goal and one project, so like a collective. In that sense, yeah, that works.
I think you have on your mind, this individual artist is working on their individual project, but within a communal space, I think that is a great idea and that can work as well. I just don’t see myself in that space.
Do you believe that London has an impact on your art?
Yes, I know that for sure!
Would you consider moving outside of London?
Yes, definitely. One of the main reasons is the financial aspect. The space here is getting increasingly expensive. As much as London offers a lot of opportunities for exhibiting and acquiring new contacts which is very important at the early stages of establishing yourself and building your name. Once you feel confident, you have enough recognition, It’s good to make a move.
From my own perspective, I noticed that although there’s so much going on so many things, and so many opportunities, I’m not taking advantage of it, because I’m always choosing to spend a little bit more time on my work than going and networking. So, from my perspective, it just doesn’t make sense to pay those high London prices for a relatively small space, whereas I could enjoy, you know, more space and peace elsewhere that is more economical.
Do you think it would impact your work if you were to move out of the city?
I hope the impact will be positive as I’ll be doing more and I’ll have more focus on my work and there’ll be less distractions. So yes, I hope at the least there will be improvement.
What do you think the future of studio space will look like?
It would probably be very complex. A very complex studio with boundaries like living units, people working there and a whole community which is all concentrated around art. That’s my vision, which I’m working towards, but it’s a long way to go.
How do you believe we can ensure artists stay in the city?
By subsidising the art exhibitions such as the exhibition I currently have a studio with; it’s this great institution because they are nonprofit organisation and they specifically focus on providing affordable spaces for young artists. It was great for me to acquire a studio and build up my practice where somebody like me, a sculptor, to have a space where you have freedom of you know doing your thing, which can very often be noisy, dusty, smelly stuff which might be hostile to others surrounding you. I struggled with finding a space in the past, and it was always something you know, there was always a problem. Neighbours would complain and finally, I found a space that is simple, and I can do what I want and have freedom. So, it’s difficult, you know, for people like sculptors to find a good space. But to answer your question I think providing space that is subsidised by the government could help.
How do you think the artists can collaborate and communicate with the developers in London to try to maintain that cultural community?
That’s a difficult question. I don’t waste my time submitting my work to competitions and exhibitions because I’d rather spend the time actually creating more work and doing more fun stuff. I don’t believe these profit oriented organisations such as development companies would begin supporting art, unless it makes them money, yes, and this is what they do, and I know, which is quite a good way of collaborating with artists.
It’s hard because developers take advantage of this natural process in which artists tend to take some rural or unoccupied spaces or spaces in areas that have rundown and they go there because it’s cheap. So they build up and it becomes popular and suddenly the gentrification, you know the prices rise because it becomes more attractive. They use that to attract the buyers by promoting the new apartments with an artistic community and sometimes they give a boutique ground floor space to the artists for art projects to attract more buyers. Once the slots are filled up they, I don’t want to say get rid of the artists, but the contract somehow terminates. It’s like what is happening in Hackney. Maybe instead of pushing artists out, they can make clean spaces at the bottom for artists to practice and exhibit their art and stay.