A Space of One’s Own: Mark

‘It’s a studio I had built in the garden a few years ago. I remember decorating it carefully, all in white and thinking what a great, white empty space it was, but it soon filled up with work, paints, books, plants, photographs, tools, work table, drawing board etc. It’s a light, bright space, and I like the doors open in the summer, and it has a heater in the winter.

I work with stone mainly and have a workshop elsewhere with all the big tools, lifting gear, compressor, railway sleeper bench and space to make dust, noise and eventually sculpture. And I have a small room in the house with the laptop and a lot of books, mementos and “stuff”.

But this is really the greenhouse where ideas grow, either in scribbled hand-written form or in sketch books or on the drawing board. The drawing board is a beast of a thing rescued from the back of a Rolls Royce engineering factory in Shrewsbury 40 odd years ago. Big cast iron base and a 5 foot long board; they were smashing about 50 up with sledgehammers as I drove past and I took one home in a Morris 1000 van and have moved it many times since.

I’m not tidy, but it ebbs and flows depending upon whether I’m in the middle of working on things or whether I’ve reached an ending; then it gets sorted til the next interval. I’ve tried to maintain order but it doesn’t work. Order manifests in my final output.

I trained as a painter and still paint and make 2D work, but can also get handleable pieces of stone down here to work on with just hand tools – letter carving and small works.The neighbours wouldn’t like the dust and noise of mechanical tools.

There are boxes of photographs going back 40 or more years which I mean to sort and never do, but some make it onto the wall. There is a cows skull I found once on the window cill, and a mimetolith that found me on a Welsh beach a long time ago… a stone that naturally resembles a human face. The plants come in over winter until the last of the frosts, a couple of them were my mother’s, who’s been gone nearly 30 years.

I have a couple of tool-rolls of chisels in here currently as I’m working on a slate memorial stone while the Covid-19 lockdown is operating.

As well as working I read in here, go through source material, play the guitar sometimes, write, learn Spanish. It’s my space, neither workshop nor domestic, but a space to be and do.’