I live in the northern neighbourhood of Dezeen whose head quarters is a former doctor’s surgery in Stoke Newington, which is a stone’s throw away from a renovated mews that is now the Waddington Studios, where artists sit behind pre-rusted Corten steel panels and double-height windows.
Peter York wrote about the middle class home tour in the Sunday Times Home last weekend which ends with the soulless glass box-living that makes our eyes glaze over. I sort of feel the same way about the soulless artist studio. I don’t want to see another weathered steel clad artist’s studio angled on a hillside or a converted munitions warehouse where architects say the concept was to retain the character of the building – although I love Edmund de Waal so much I can forgive that last example.
I like smaller studios that bear the soul of the maker. Geoffrey Preston is the country’s leading stuccoist. I loved my visit to his whitewashed workshop in Exeter and his latest studio is housed in a charming farm building that lies outside Exeter, surrounded by the rolling green hills of the Perridge estate. Inside is a chalky sea of work in progress from small stucco flower reliefs to a wildly exuberant Rococo ceiling to gasp at.
Tennant & Tennant gild in a studio in the bare-faced beauty of the Scottish borders, Margo Selby hand weaves in Whitstable, Bridie Hall has a small Bloomsbury studio above the Pentreath & Hall shop.
To top it all Cox London (above) has its workshop in a most unlikely spot which proves that the best studios are not necessarily about the exterior or architecture but what goes on inside. In a unit of an industrial estate you’ll find a metal foundry, newly fired moulds, benches laden with decorative plasterwork, tins of wax polish and pots of brushes for gilding. It is a place pulsing with creativity where a team of craftsmen who sculpt, forge, shape and finish the beautiful and sculptural lighting and furniture designed by Christopher and Nicola Cox.