"What would we not give to peer over the shoulder of Giorgione or Vermeer - or Francis Bacon? In an age that has lost its natural sense of the numinous, we half believe that we could be the witness of a form of magic. And it is not only the enactment of that magic that so compels us; the place in which it is performed may be charged with a presence that compounds the spell. To enter the studio of Giacometti was to walk, like Alice, through the Looking-Glass, into a realm that seemed to change the scale of your own body; to find your way across the floor of Kitaj’s studio that is strewn with open books like paving stones in a Japanese garden is to step into the silent discourse of centuries between artist and artist; and to be invited into Brancusi’s lair at 11 Impasse Ronsin was to cross the threshold into a space that was itself a work of art in which sculptures of polished brass, white plaster and rough-hewn wood had been disposed in groups under the calm white light from high windows – a temple of trophies through which you moved as in a trance. In each case a way of working had moulded from within its own aura."
From The Artist at Work by Colin St John Wilson
These photographs are from a project about the artist's studio on which I've been working intermittently over the last year. I am lucky enough to have access to an artist's studio right here at home, where my husband works and produces his paintings and drawings. It is a fascinating place and offers different photographic opportunities virtually ever time I cross the threshold. The constant state of flux creates interesting and unusual juxtapositions of images as new work replaces work in progress or a finished piece. At times portraits seem to communicate with one another, at times willfully turning away, sometimes caught in a shaft of light, at other times expressions hidden in the shadows.
I usually do my photographing there when the space is empty as I don't like to intrude. The studio is usually regarded as a place of sanctuary, a personal space which is not be invaded. In addition, I make it a rule never to disturb anything - I tend to prefer photographing what I come across rather than staging my pictures - and for me the serendipity of finding a ready-made still life is one of the great pleasures of photography.
The images in this selection are all to do with the gaze - the painter's gaze of course, but also the gazes exchanged between the subjects of the paintings and their gaze as they look out at the viewer, as well as the viewer's gaze at both the paintings and the photographs. Gaze upon gaze upon gaze.....
To be continued........
All paintings copyright Mike Newton