The artist’s studio

Posted in caught, thought, wrought by juliobesq on June 16, 2009


I recently learnt that three of my tiny fictions are to be published in web lit-zine, this should enthuse me to put fingers to keyboard and yet I find myself unable to tear my enthusiasm away from the Holga. I feel I am somehow cheating, that writing is facing the creative rock wall – the proverbial white sheet. While photography has that little leg-up, pointing the camera at something that is in itself already visually arresting. 

I justify it with a modern art rationale – it’s the intention that makes the art, not the form. The reasoning that setting up a photograph is akin to writing out a scene. An internal bickering forever in the back of the mind. Guilty feelings that it is laziness stopping anything new being written. Having spent the weekend fooling around with a new ring flash and some hundreds and thousands this snippet I read recently throws a different light on such musings…

“Writers always envy artists, would trade places with them in a moment if they could. The painter’s life seems less ascetic, less monkish, less hunched. Instead of the austere mess of the desk there is the chaos of the studio: dirty coffee cups, paint-smudged cassette decks, drawings of the artist’s girlfriend, naked, on the walls… In the age of the computer the writer’s office or study will increasingly resemble the customer service desk of an ailing small business. The artist’s studio, though, is still what it has always been: an erotic space. For the writer the artist’s studio is, essentially a place where women undress.” Apparently quoted from ‘Out of Sheer Rage’ by Geoff Dyer.

Hard to argue with that isn’t it. Although I know I need to devote some time to my chosen partner writing, the mistress of photography still lures me: the shots failed from the Holga and a digital image has been resorted to, temporarily. It irks me that it doesn’t resemble that in my mind’s eye, and I am keen to reshoot.

(This paragraph will only of interest to those Googling Holga, diopters and ring flashes. The Holga normally suffers from under-exposure, but it seems that a ring flash throws out a lot more light that it’s built-in version, and combined with a close-up lens the glare bleaches everything out. Film rated at 100ASA is massively over-exposed. A test roll is needed pulling 50ASA stock back a stop). After I’ve put pen to paper of course.

I found both the quote and the marvelous picture of George Dyer, boyfriend of British painter Francis Bacon (shot in his Reece Mews Studio by an uncredited photographer in 1964), on the excellent ‘Sympathy for the art gallery’. Given that Dyer senior was gay I suspect that Geoff and George aren’t related, but it is serendipitous that their pairing should illustrate so aptly why I find myself drawn to photographic portraiture when I know I should be honing my writing.

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2 Responses

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  1. todaysnewsart said, on June 16, 2009 at 3:34 am

    I have never been that much into photograph, and thus have never looked at it that way. But it’s true. I think anybody who has artistic inclinations, but cannot produce what a painter can, is frustrated. It’s sexier to watch than a microsoft word document, that’s for sure. While a woman can see herself in print and read about herself, it somehow doesn’t compare (at least in one’s first impression), to a painting of her, SEEING, how erotic she looks to another.

    The internal chaos is the same, I think. However, I wouldn’t say a writer’s study is austere. There are books everywhere!

  2. How to be an artist « sybawrite said, on July 19, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    […] practice. Like the artist’s studio and it’s promise of naked flesh, cigarettes stubs floating in polystyrene cups, wine bottles half full… scrub the wine […]

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