Expanding the studio to a place of conversations.
When I step into artist Areena Ang’s shared studio space at the Slade, I realise how squished it is, with paintings propped against the walls, more than one piece rolled or stacked, whilst the floor space is left clean and clear, which is where the artist usually makes her works through a process of stretching out and exerting energy. This lack of space is a real challenge for the artist, as she tells me that she has to be strategic about what’s in it and how she’s taking up space. However, the room expands in other ways, since the artist advocates her studio not only being a space for creation, but also one of social encounter, where discourse is endorsed amongst her friends and peers. Before she starts working, the artist washes all of her brushes, puts on her boiler suit or comfortable painting clothes, has a few nice conversations with friends, catches up with her studio mate and then gets going. Birthday cards, remnants of past and discarded works in the form of drawings present themselves within the studio, making it one of honesty in artistic process. ‘Sorry, I talk really fast’ says Areena, as she goes through her small sketchbook of characters with me, creating new forms of life which are generated purely from imagination. The artist, who had cleaned up her space prior to the visit, also shows me the first painting that made her happy through a snapshot in her phone. For her, making paintings is about the narratives, the stories that can make one feel fearful, wonderful, and even make one cry through their revealing insights. Areena also mentions that the lighting in this space is really important, as it affects how the paintings look and how she approaches them. However, far from purely aesthetics, the artist’s work appears to radiate things beyond painting that what the painting actually looks like.