Friday, 22 January 2021

Covid Project - Building a Studio in my Garden 2020

So this has been a year we will all remember.  For me it was supposed to be the year of change in that I became an artist in residence at Coalport China Museum. Having worked from home for 11 years in SEO I was ready to change things around and become a full time artist or at least 80% of my time was going to be on my art.  Two floods and then Covid-19 in the Spring meant that the museum has been shut all year.  Coalport has been my happy place for many years and one of the reasons I have stayed in the area.  It won't be opening anytime soon. So that was sad.

What I have found hard this year is that it feels like my human rights have been taken away.  To keep me sane (and this is good advice for anyone planning to stay working from home),  you have to make sure you get out and have a social life away from home.  I used to play badminton twice a week with two different groups of people, that with my friends and family and trips away kept me sane.  I don't like the gym or pubs really, so I have felt frustrated with the restrictions.  

Loosing my old border collie in August was the last straw. She had been ill all year, she was 15, so when the inevitable happened and I couldn't go travelling (which was also my plan for this year) I decided to put all my focus on building a workshop studio in my back garden.  I will then be able to run classes and do all the stuff I planned to do down Coalport.  As for the public viewing, there of course is YouTube so the plan is to get busier on there.  I still want a space down the museum but at least when this is built I wont be able to turn down the bigger jobs which Coalport helped materialize.  I got a job to make a number of large wall flowers for the store Macy's in USA.  With no space here and the need of a larger kiln it was thanks to Coalport I could take the job.  Soon I will have a larger kiln and plenty of space.

I have a good 100ft plus garden so there was plenty of room:

Clearing behind my garden

This was my garden back in August 2020, dog just died, sad time, time to get busy:

I knew I had to sort out the mess behind my garden as the land was half way up my back fence.  Years of rubbish being chucked over (not me) and trees growing meant anyone could step onto my roof so it had to be cleared. 

So phase one was to clear this and create a base.  I spoke to my neighbor and he agreed to help.  I went away for a week down to Folkestone and he got busy from his side.  It was a good couple of weeks of work and it involved taking down some dangerously growing trees.

I bought a gazebo to store all my shed stuff.  The shed sold very quickly on Facebook Marketplace. 

What we found once we got excavating is that my old boundary posts were buried.  A tree was growing within the boundaries so we think the previous owner brought the fence forward rather than deal with the tree.  This is the tree root:  There was soil right up to the back of my then boundary: 

I got busy my side and removed the conifer and the slabs:

We collected all the brick and slabs to create hardcore for the base:

Reclaiming my boundries:

This is a video of the base work up until the concrete pour:

This split pictures shows just two weeks apart.  The frame went up very quickly:

The windows and doors should be installed in the next few weeks.
I am now working on the garden:

I am currently now having issues with my neighbours which might be worthy of a blog post.  I wanted to build an extra meter up on my studio so I could create an attic for storage, but as one side is a bit funny and well not approachable, I decided to keep to allowed height without planning.   I am now regretting that. 


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