Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Secret Secretaire(s)

Well I think this area is the last I'll show you in this room before we move back down the upstairs hallway again. We're looking at the alcove on the left side of the room. The chest of drawers are G-Plan (and one of a matching pair - the other one is situated in the right alcove of this room).

Lots of art books and exhibition catalogues, plus some tools, materials and equipment from my previous life as a painter. The jars contain raw pigments, which are intense and so beautifully vibrant in their elementary state. I used to make all my own oil paint.

 The top drawer has a secret, in that it actually hinges down to form a writing desk and holds compartments for stationery and documents etc. Groovy.


  1. What a hidden gem the top drawer is, with no hint from the outside to what is about to be revealed within. I love it. I assume the other set of drawers has the same compartment - His and Hers Secretaires? Are you not tempted to use it? or perhaps this is another example of the extinct object; how many times do we use stationery or write letters.

    As usual, your shelves have a real sense of order and purpose.

    Can I ask about the tiny wooden box on top of the drawers?

  2. You're right P, the other set of drawers is exactly the same, with the hidden gem top one. We do have one set each! Although 'his' top drawer is full of ... stuff, and 'hers'is empty! The other drawers (mine) hold my artists' books, and my book fair kit. The drawers do need a bit of sorting out, and re-arranging of their contents, so I think I will use the top part in time, but it won't be for it's intended purpose. So yes, an extinct object in that sense.
    The wooden box is a blonde oak writing cabinet - complete with pinned red ric-rac on one side to hold memos, notes etc, and compartments for letters, and a slidy out drawer at the bottom, for love letters? Couldn't resist taking a pick to let you see ...

  3. A, it is becoming more apparent that your work life/home life, and the way you live, are intrinsically linked. Not only do you have your studio, but this room too – with further books, artists’ books, art equipment and typewriters; I don’t know why I should find this surprising, as your practice is of course, an extension of you. I’m not sure I’m making sense – but I think I’m trying to say that there are no barriers between the two aspects, no compartmentalizing, just a practical adaptation of your living space.
    The writing cabinet is delightful, and seems to sit appropriately and significantly atop the hidden desk. Was its placement intentional I wonder?

  4. I tend to use this space (room) as archive, storage, and library. A support for what happens downstairs (in the studio). Somewhere to hold copies (stock) of my own artists' books and also to keep a hard copy archive of what I have made. (That's the theory anyway - the practice is not so easy, as I always have copies of printed/made pages for books to make up, half made etc). I also keep all the things that I need for exhibiting at Artists' Book Fairs, such as labels, tags, cash box, book stands, table cloth etc.
    Plus items like the sewing machine, sewing box, and typewriters that live here, but I come to borrow to use downstairs for a project or piece of work. Boxes containing recycled jiffy bags and envelops abide here too, really very useful, so decided to give them space to dwell, rather than buying one each time I need to mail something, which is quite regularly. I call those shelves, 'The Post Office.'
    I also think that I don't 'stay' here and work that much as it's a space that holds items that I haven't quite reconciled (with myself) yet: my collection of Art books, equipment and materials. Old me.
    Plus I'm also aware that S needs a space for doing things in apart from his shed - but it's probably more the first reason, if I'm being honest.
    So, it's a space that S spend much more time in - disassembling typewriters that need a clean, playing guitars (there are three in this room) and somewhere he comes to work on the computer (laptop) for any length of time. He's up there now actually, putting the finishing online touches to his research project on Tumblr.
    So the long explanation to, 'yes, you are absolutely right, P!'
    R.e. the writing cabinet - I think I thought I would use it as an elegant way to house and show small pieces of work at Artists' Book Fairs, though it hasn't been to one yet, as it adds quite a bit to the weight of a suit case!!

  5. Your sense of order and organisation, is as ever, very inspirational; I do admire the way that everything has a logical place. I actually thought that I was quite organised – but I am quickly realising that this is not the case! – my own practice is split across both home and work, so whilst some things are duplicated, others are dragged back and forth to wherever I happen to be working (although not for much longer with the current space situation). Even at home – I have bits and pieces spread across three different rooms – time to rationalise I think!
    I love the idea of using the small cabinet for book fairs – although I am also well aware of the dilemma of interesting display versus heavy suitcase!
    Only you A, could have a Post office shelf – I’m in awe!!

  6. It makes sense to me that your practice is split across home and work P, as work is where your print studio is. It has a fluidity of thinking, and a cross over between studio, study - making and thinking.
    Though maybe difficult to locate some items, some of the time I guess?
    I tend to take paper and plates/type into UWE (or set type in the relief studio) to print and then bring them home again, as the relief studio is used by so many people. Ideally I'd have my own press (the dream of a Vandercook sp-15) and enough type and equipment of my own.

    I just found this piece of writing - Poetics and practice: studio theoria by Keith Russell University of Newcastle, AU.
    When we practice, we practice in spaces, most commonly described as "rooms". The rooms we inhabit come to describe our ways of practice. Equally, through their inherent limits, the rooms we work in come to define our ways of working.
    Full article here:

  7. Hi A, thank you for the link. Whilst I understand what he is saying, I actually don’t think it matters what we call a space but it is how we adapt spaces for our needs, (or maybe I have taken his view too literally); however I do find it interesting that we all have our own ways of describing particular rooms – for example – your snug; and just out of interest how do you refer to the current room that we are viewing? bedroom / workspace/ spare room / office?

    And do we alter how we describe specific rooms depending on the house? my brother’s current sitting room is referred to as the adult’s room! this is because there is a smaller sitting room that my nephew uses on a daily basis, and whilst he is not forbidden to use the adult’s room he rarely ventures in there (so the cream sofas are safe!).

  8. In response to your first paragraph P, some rooms in our house have found their own definite descriptions - studio, 'snug', and the usual more traditional bedroom, bath room etc.Thre are also rooms which names evolve and change. One of which is the room that we are in at the moment - currently I'm calling it the 'Typewriter room' yet a while ago, I referred to it as the library. Hmmm.
    Also the room S has built on the back/side (backside? Do houses have backsides?) of the house where he works - is referred to as both, the shed, and the workshop.
    I'd like to bring back the use of the word 'parlour' to describe a domestic space again, rather than one of beauty or ice-cream!

    Ha ha - I did laugh out loud at the 'adult's room' story - how fantastic!
    A sign of the times is a memory of a room in an aunt's and uncle's house (a big house) where there were a few formal reception rooms, and a more relaxed room with squishy sofas and bean bags etc. relegated to the back of the house (as were the kids and dogs, most of the time), which was 'the tv room'- no television in the other rooms - unheard of more these days, where the tv is usually the central feature of many lounges and main reception rooms!

    1. Apologies P - my second paragraph is in response to your second one, didn't carry my own structure through at all there!

  9. I think every house should have a typewriter room and a parlour! and naturally you are leading the way!
    It's interesting how some names go in and out of fashion - 'lounge' seems to have disappeared too doesn't it; and I suppose in the case of your Aunt and Uncle's house, the more rooms you have, then the more creative you have to be in naming them all. When my grandparents worked for the family in Surrey, there were numerous bedrooms, so each one was known by the particular colour palette of the room.

  10. Ha, ha - what a lovely thought P. A typewriter room and a parlour!

    Naming rooms after colours seems a very English 'Country House' tradition, isn't it - fond reminiscences of period dramas etc.

    Yes, I was thinking about names of rooms too, and found this list online (see below) as part of a 'learning English Vocabulary' lesson. Think it has interesting parallels with what's fashionable, what's actually true/false and also worrying aspects about how confused people will be by learning English via this website compared with the realities of most houses, and expressions of descriptive vocabulary within our culture.

    Attic People store things in the attic.
    Ballroom A room in stately homes where rich people dance and concerts are held.
    Box Room A small room used for storage.
    Cellar Underneath the house.
    Cloakroom A small room where people put their coats.
    Conservatory A greenhouse attached to a house for the display of plants.
    Dining Room A room where people eat (see eating at home).
    Drawing Room A room in stately homes where rich people entertain.
    Games Room A room in large houses where games are played.
    Hall The entrance passage to a house.
    Larder A small room used for the storage of food.
    Library A room where books are kept.
    Lounge Another name for living room.
    Music Room A room where people play music.
    Office A room where people work.
    Pantry A small room used to store kitchen and dining items.
    Parlour Old fashioned word for living room.
    Sitting Room Another name for living room.
    Spare Room/
    Guest Room A room where guests sleep.
    Toilet A room where people go to the toilet (often known as WC)
    Utility Room A room where appliances such as washing machines are used.

  11. It’s a great list - I particularly love all the references to 'rich people'.

    I must say I like the idea of owning a pantry, my grandmother had one with a cold slab still inside it. I suppose the advent of the fitted kitchen meant that the pantry has became an obsolete space.


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