Farewell Islington Mill…
After over four years in residence, I moved out of Studio 305 in Islington Mill last week. It was an emotional* journey but an overdue one. This was my first studio. It was mine… My space… Private space. A bit of a mess but my mess. Prior to this I had worked from home particularly on my design work when not working onsite in a theatre workshop or tv studio. After my first child arrived, I found for me, tv schedules and overnight paintcalls didn’t appeal but I still needed/wanted to work in my chosen field. I found myself doing more designing & prop/costume making. I was also finding that theatres were giving up their workshop spaces and as a freelance scenic painter, prop & costume maker, people were starting to request that I had my own workshop space. My workspace/studio at home was one half of the through diningroom/lounge separated off with just a curtain. As small child started to move, I had to install a fence but no way to contain the smell of paint & glue that I had become accustomed to but not a good atmosphere for little lungs. We had run out of space not just physically but also headspace. I needed clarity between work and home.
People think it’s great to work from home but it’s hard to escape (I am of course writing this at the reclaimed dining room table) but more than that I found it was easy enough to work when I was busy but it was those quiet times (other freelancers will know what I mean) when it was hard to focus on personal development and the search for new work, easy to get distracted by the washing and the long list of things that need fixing, painting etc. I checked out a several studios online. I was looking at sizes, prices, locations, facilities, availability and range of artforms. Some were very fine art orientated. Some were too open. Some were too expensive. Some didn’t have internet. I visited some to get a feel for what was on offer. Some were still being built. Generally there was nothing available.
Just after Christmas when my daughter had just turned one, a fellow artist/friend told me that some studios had become available in Islington Mill. I rang up and booked an appointment to view. I was working nearby in The Angel with DIY Theatre Company so it was very easy to pop by. Mark greeted me and showed me round the building. There were two medium studios still available – one at the back on the fourth floor and a slightly smaller one at the front on the third. I am not usually known for my decisiveness but something felt right. I knew this was meant to be. So on this grey wet day in Salford, I said yes and signed the contract and paid the deposit there and then. Knowing that I am often to be lugging stuff – props, costumes, materials etc and there was no lift, I lazily chose the one on the third plus it had a view of the cathedral (and as I later realised, a noisy school playground). Number 305.
Throughout my time at Islington Mill, I worked closely with physical theatre company, Aqueous Humour as their Head of Design. In 2009 Aqueous Humour were appointed Artists in Residence at Richmond Park KS3 PRU in Longsight and last year I was made joint Creative Director. This hasn’t meant more money but it has meant spending more time at base for meetings and project planning. When Aqueous Humour received confirmation that we would continue as Artists in Residence at the PRU, the natural progression was for me to move my studio there.
I will miss Islington Mill but I was just no longer there enough. Knowing me, this means I will now actually attend more gigs/events and am looking forward to doing my Christmas shopping at Xmas at The Mill. I have become Twitter (@nerissact) and Instagram friends with several Mill residents so will continue to be in touch and support your projects. Was glad I paid The Blue Van company to help with my move as there is still no lift (though I heard a rumour that there is still hope for one) and that desk is still as big and heavy.
*Thanks to my lovely neighbour Anj from Design By Day for the hug when I came over all emotional. I will miss their afternoon giggle attacks.