From the moment I get to the studios, my days are relatively unpredictable. I knock back my espresso and begin my role as headmistress, mediator, coordinator and even professional matchmaker! I run a very different kind of artist studio that is akin to being a social experiment with happiness at its core. Because it is so sociable, I tend to spend long hours there and don’t much feel the need to go out after work. I make sure I get my runs in at the weekends and never use the lift out of principle.
“It’s like living in a glossy magazine, every time you open a door, you enter another universe”
I love my lunchtimes at the studios. Being in an old Victorian school building, it made sense to bring back the lunch hour. At 1pm, our receptionist walks around both buildings ringing an old bell and people come out of their studios to share a hearty meal together. With 175 artists and artisans under one roof, lunchtimes are the highlight of everyone’s day. I look forward to introducing some games of tag in our playground this summer, just to shake things up a little.
It’s hard not to find myself humbled by the creatives in our studios. It’s like living in a glossy magazine, every time you open a door, you enter another universe. It’s been three years since I started this project, little did I realise then that we are like embodied patterns, who we are, the objects we surround ourselves with and what we make are all part of the same consistent narrative. Living this project, as I have, has hugely expanded my horizons.
I make the time to get to know each and every artist in our studios. I’m a good listener and often find ways of resolving people’s issues by being purely practical. I get to know them so well that I can anticipate the problems before they appear. I know all of our artists by name and their studio pets’ names too.
Our studios are tucked away in quiet residential Maida Hill. Where’s that, you may ask? We’re in between sleepy Maida Vale and hip Queen’s Park. We had to plaster a ten-metre “Kindred Studios” sign up the brickwork to start receiving our mail. It’s a super-friendly creative neighbourhood; our first open studios event attracted 2,500 visitors, eager to keep us here. It was a surprising turnout, we never even advertised the event.
Because we are so big, it’s shocking to say but there’s never a need to go out of the building. The restaurant is downstairs and people buzz around the studios. There’s yoga and figure drawing once a week and in summer we’ll have our community garden and campfire nights to enjoy.
On a personal level, London is often what you make of it, it beats to your own rhythm but you need to set the pace or it’ll whip you up in a frenzy. I love its energy but I worry about its increasing loss of community as we become increasingly atomized. My project is but a small effort to reverse some of the damage.
Photography © Enzo Barracco