Project 2.4 – Ex 2.3: Reflective exercise – Studio reflections

Studio space

What is my relationship to my work place or studio space?

I started this course while still being a frequent traveller, my suitcase was my studio and workplace, my objects had to be transportable, my relationship was a question of fitting in and packing/unpacking. This has changed the last months, as I decided to move and relocate to Germany, given up my residency in Switzerland. I re-constructed and established a new space (Fig. 1) –  space that I hoped for to become a creative place.

(c) 2018, StefansJSchaffeld

Fig. 1: Studio space[/cap

Now, with the idea realized future becomings are still to be actualised. A starting and coming back point – a place of collection, surely for all my done works (reminds me to start with the business side of being an artist as well, to show, to share and to sell).

I have seen a few other studio spaces from local artists, more or less living room spaces, at times a separate building, crowded, cramped, at times open space with nearly nothing in it. So it all depends on the way the artist would like to be – and what one needs to work creatively. Also, if intended to work alone, or to be frequented or visited by others as well.

I should be happy, and actually after all the hassle with moving and settling in with my other professional activities, it is more than many have: dedicated, a retreat, a space where my objects, tools and media do have a home. Nevertheless, I do feel not complete yet. Being still excited to get out, to do more, interaction, performance? Coursework needs my attention, but should it really restrict me to the studio space?

On the other hand, the space is fresh, quite new . The smell of long lasting hours and residues of paint and obsolete objects not there yet. Too clean?

What is useful for me? 

A base, a place to keep, a place to get things done. A place to explore and visual map (on the wall, Fig .2)

Stefan513593 - studio space - visual mapping part 2

Fig. 2: studio space – visual mapping part 2

What do I need further? 

Movement, free flow, and multiple viewpoints. I’ve been a nomad the last decades, now I will not stop. To be a nomad in the art world seems to be another cup of tea, how to get there, I have no idea – interaction, communication, collaboration. One more time, that being a distant art student feels lonely – quite remote.

Space and scale: As reflected in the previous exercise one important aspect for me is space, room to move. I need floor and wall space. At times during the process of making I work on the floor, add objects one after the other beside me – till it is crowded. At the end it is time to clean, to get ready for new work. It is a cycle, and this cycle or intensity, crowdedness and cleaning up seems to be important in my way of working.


What is home? I am Dutch, having spend more time in other countries more time than in Netherlands. Feeling a stranger in familiar grounds.  Does my studio space support this feeling or would it restrict it? Open questions with unclear directions.

Function of my studio space

Till now, I had various spaces to work with and out of: suitcase, apartment, studio. And the space in-between that I truly found inspirational, e.g train, airport, street, hotel. It was quite frustrating to take partly tools, objects, and paint with me, and to keep more or less doubled stuff in two place. That was the ground for me creating the object-box table starting this part of the course, and now perhaps already nostalgic?

My studio space is in a side building on our property where I also installed my art therapy practice for outpatients and clients (in the process of settling in). My idea would be to obtain a space that communicates visually and emotionally. It would be a place to relax, to inspire, to create, and to establish new perspectives. Still work in progress – some work will be done off-site.

Also I am trying to establish now a certain daily and weekly routine – being there, working there and here, not somewhere else. And yes, a place that allows different things to do. Although, sometimes I still have a sensation of getting out, breaking out.

Overall, a place of return – work in progress is waiting to be continued.


I started with OCA working in different locations. After moving, it merged into one place alone. The nomad part is over, spatially?. Since April this year, other business activities took my attention. What was intended to open up, felt at the beginning as closing down. With frustration with postponing my coursework, until the moment I really had to get back on track – my passion for art making could not be hold back any longer.

That period, unproductive longer than expected, was possibly supportive in another sense. That I know and feel stronger to move ahead. I tried towards getting rid of distractive objects, boxes, and all sort of other things (not only physical parts). Another view on restriction or limitation as being more productive. I still work from my transport object-box what feels right at the moment. Perhaps as a more expanded field. To keep it small? Or till the time comes to make it bigger?


My routine still to be maintained, work to be done and created. And not only coursework. So far, interaction with what is around me takes quite some time. And freedom to play around.

Or as verbs of action considering my space:

to play,

     to enjoy,

          to use,

              to experiment,

                   to explore,

                        to discover,

                            to frequent,

                                  to make sense, 

In this sense, I find Uri Aran’s perspective on interaction with his work place intriguing.

“how to solve the day in the studio” – Uri Aran

Uri Aran explained during an interview at the 55th Biennale (BiennaleChannel,2013:0:40) his ‘toolbox of action’ when exploring:

to make sense of things, to organize, to re-organize, to design, to wait, to put together, to let age, to move (around), to revisit, to think every day about, to map, to present, to explain, to make social meaning

Aran highlights a few aspect of importance to his work and the reception of it:

  • flat logic (flatbed, work table)
  • topography (a map)
  • narrative (to get some meaning out of the arrangement)
  • rhythmic feeling (the embodied encounter)
  • storyboard (that unfolds)

I find the mapping resonates with Perec’ and Bishop’s description of work tables. The narrative is certainly what the viewer looks at, as the human brain tries to make sense out of complexity. And what is better suited then a story to be told? I personally can very much relate to the rhythmic feeling in the sense of feeling with all senses the encounter of objects.

The sense of narrating and interacting objects  might go into the direction of New Materialism and object-orientation of post-human theories, something I not understand well yet, possibly more to read through.

I am not so intrigued by the ‘toolbox’ conception as it feels too much of pre-mediated design. Especially in my professional field of art therapy and coaching it is more of attending the moment and less designing the moment. Sticking to a toolbox can end up ugly.

Valérie Mréjen describes the flow of a studio day in her short diary ‘Start Working’, (Hoffman,2012:180), an instructional piece for ‘Do It’, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist. Perhaps less about a focused problem solving activity and effective work attainment. It is more about the struggle, procrastination, and distraction that is happening every day, especially when one seeks inspiration for creative work. Something, I truly could relate to, nearly feeling it as a joke. But also the importance of embracing all moments in space and time as they come along, as new perspectives might open up. As she issued this in the context of ‘instructions’ it might well be something like mapping out and planning ahead. Being an independent artist (not thinking about commissioned work yet) means to be self-instructive. One need to set time, space, and resources to get something done. I never believed in the notion of the relaxed artist waiting for inspiration and creative muse. It is work, and routine work that requires quite some discipline. And to make, to DO IT. An exclamation that quite characterizes my life, especially my business life. Making more work is often more fruitful than trying to make less, but high quality work (this doesn’t mean that the many works need to be rubbish)


  • BiennaleChannel (2013) Biennale Arte 2013 – Uri Aran,  [online], At:–mq_lRY  (Accessed on 12 Feb 2018).
  • Hoffman, J. (2012) The Studio, Documents of Contemporary Art. Edited by Blazwick, I. London: Whitechapel Gallery and the MIT Press.
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