Chris Biddlecomb introduced me to four artists with studios in the Patriot Hall facility. He explained to that Wasps originally rented the building but recently purchased and renovated it. It originally was built for and used as a bakery. Wasps had just finished renovating the top floor into studios. I got a tour of one nicely sized space with good light provided by several small skylight type windows. The original hand operated freight elevator had been replaced by an industrial sized metal automatic cab. The original tile from when the building was a bakery was in evidence but the raceway track for future utility upgrades were in evidence as well. The ground floor contained a gallery space as well as public bathrooms.
My first interview there was with Shelagh Atkinson, a printmaker and painter. Shelagh was in the midst of preparing for the Wasps Artist’s Open Studios Weekend to happen the following week. Three out of the four artists I interviewed at Partriot Hall had studios of similar overall layout- a room more long than narrow with a window on opposite end as the door with vertical storage systems above the door. Shelagh’s studio followed this program. She had work hanging on the walls as well as in a display rack for easy viewing. Much of the work was comprised of images based on portraiture and slogans some of which reminded me of posters in the old Soviet Union.
My next stop was the painting studio of Gerald McGowan. His studio was a mass of accumulation. He was generous with the amount of time he spent with me and seemed a bit apologetic about his habits. He used very few words in the interview but was eager to inquire about my projects see any materials I brought with me. His studio was stuffed to the brim with artwork in various stages of completion, materials, paper and other odds and ends. Hanging on the walls were several small works in his latest series on people in motion.
The studio of painter Trude Blows had much the same overall layout as that of Shelagh Atkinson and Gerald McGowan. She recently moved into the space and was still in the process of unpacking and setting up. Trude was in a state of transition as she had just finished spending the bulk of her time working in the first floor gallery space and very little time painting. She creates landscape paintings in black and white.
My last stop was to the ground floor studio of Alan Kilpatrick. Alan’s studio is the largest I toured in the building. The Wasps Studios at Patriothall were recently purchased which ended a period of uncertainty for him and allowed him to proceed with customizing his studio. He recently installed a mezzanine in his space to create a separate work area from his painting area. He explained the process of installing the mezzanine and it had to be installed without making permanent penetrations in the existing demising walls or floor. A recent upgrade to his space was the replacement of the inoperable windows with ones that opened. Access to fresh air allowed him to work in oils again. Like Chris Biddlecombe his choice of medium was dictated by what he wants to express. There were several large paintings in his studio and he showed me a DVD of two of his recent art installations involving figures cast in wax, resin and ceramic.