my studio in the arthouse, Guardia Sanframondi, 2013
Finding the space to be creative was always my priority in life: from an early age I’d carry an old plastic bread bag around with pencils and paper and books in, so that I could set up my hobby work wherever I went.
my workspace, Glasgow School of Art, 1995
In art school I adored, and thrived, having a studio- a place where I could finally splash paint around, let it drip onto the floor, experiment with all manner of oils and inks and natural materials. It felt like an extension of my imagination, my emotional and psychological space, having an area to leave my projects out, to come back to them the next day. This developed a strong need in me for a constant ‘making-working-being space’, that I could be free to be myself most fully in.
UP gallery, Calder High-rises, Edinburgh, 2007
Between art school and my having my arthouse in Italy, I tried every which way to set up the perfect art space, but my need for multi-functionality was challenged when I was always renting property.
Nevertheless, I managed to run a great variety of studio-gallery-workshop-events-spaces from a village in Cyprus, a top-floor council high-rise flat in Edinburgh, and a ‘Secret Shop’ in a glen cottage in the Scottish Borders, to a travelling circus-tent gallery which was eventually pitched in the gardens in front of where the arthouse is… My use of the space evolved, from a place to simply show paintings, to additionally being a meeting, celebrating, healing zone, and the centre of a dynamic raising of energy and ideas.
Secret Shop, Scottish Borders 2008: photo credit Colin Gajewski
The freedom I worked so hard to manifest in my life -to think, work, feel, be- meant that I existed almost exclusively out with galleries and conventional art circles. It felt like my values, awareness and viewpoint were highly different from the mainstream, and even from the alternative, so it was essential to me that I cultivated my own clear path, that I could develop this philosphy of Spiralling Upwards which I strongly sensed might be needed in the world.
Secret Shop travelling tent gallery in Guardia, 2010: photo credit Sergio Desiato
It took a long time for me to realise how my different way of thinking and perceiving might fit into the world- mostly it seemed to me that society, culture, peers wanted me to dampen down my spirits and wheisht. On the other hand, I passionately wanted to celebrate being alive, to see the beauty in small simple things, and to inspire and enthuse others: I sought to raise the energy rather than stopping it up, and knew I’d have to find a particular, special container in order to house such a magical world- in order to not be interrupted every time I got the vibe good!
Guardia Sanframondi’s old town facade, 2012: the arthouse is to the lower right
The way my house finally came to me is quite a story! I’m writing it down on paper, whilst developing the various strands of my business and life in Italy and Scotland… but it appeared at the perfect moment, and just how I dreamed it- not that I could’ve imagined it physically (this jumble of rooms and alcoves, built in under the ground in this incredible, atmospheric, abandoned centro storico!), but it has grown rapidly into the most apt container possible, for all my creative outpourings and enthusiasms!
Guardia Sanframondi’s old town facade, from the Ponte Ratello looking west
I’m writing in my book too, about the whole process of manifesting a dream lifestyle- about the minutiae, the hard slog, the focus required to make a vision in the world (especially when you have to carve it out of very little, and when your dream is sort of the opposite of where the herd seem to be flocking to).
Guardia Sanframondi’s old town facade, from below the gardens
I always thought so far out of the box that I wasn’t ever anywhere near any box: I lived barefoot and wild in various countries, subsisting by selling artwork, life-modelling, helping grow organic food, etc. in order not to compromise… well, anything. Once my ideas and energy and intention were ripe and ready though, it became time to search for a container, to put all my stuff into it, so that I could finally make sense/ find my place/ identity in the world. The container, to me, is the holy grail, holding the sacred flow, allowing it to alchemise. It’s the organising factor- a boundary and box to keep the energy in place, that it can grow. There’s a time and a place for thinking inside the box!
La Chiesa Dentro Di Me, installation at the arthouse 2014, photo credit Sara Cancellieri