Cave Dwellers United

Martin Finnin Art-1

I've just moved into a new studio so I've been thinking a lot about studios and how that space relates to the artist. The first “studios” were caves. You lived there, ate there, kept warm and safe from dodgy characters on the outside and then painted on the walls just to make sense of what you saw all around you.

I guess things never really changed much. Everyone moved to big cities, gravitating to cheap rent and kindred spirits. Again, you would try to find a place to sleep in, keep warm in and avoid dodgy characters that you owed money to. Landlords, publicans, drug dealers, bookies, wives…

Traditionally studios were broken into two groups - sculpture and painting. Picture a landlord in Montmartre at the turn of the century. He surely would have asked whether the person was a sculptor or a painter before letting any space. Painters were preferred because they didn’t make as much noise and chances were your ceiling would not suddenly come down under tonnes of stone and tools. You definitely would not want to be the guy on the floor below Brancusi!

I suppose painters could be trouble too. Can you imagine renting next to Soutine who used to paint the same ox carcass for weeks, smells of rotting flesh slowly seeping through the building. Brancusi might have been the exception that proves the rule, painters usually got the upper floors of buildings and sculptors the ground floor. So if you ever hear the term "artist starving in a garret” it’s usually a painter.

My studio belonged to a sculptor. When I moved in, it was exactly the way he left it when he downed tools on his last working day several years before. I was drawn to sculpture as much as painting when I first started out. Painting turned out to be my thing but I still think that I paint like a sculptor. It feels great to have come full circle in this new space.