Studio Series: Alan Williams

This week in Studio Series, we get to visit the workspace of artist and musician Alan Williams at Red Wire Studios…

Please describe your space. This is Red Wire Artists Studios or Red Wire Art Gallery as it used to be called. This is my bit and I share it with Nick Strowbridge, and this is where I do stuff – I draw stuff, I make stuff, I mess about, I make a noise, I sleep, I drink lots and lots of coffee, but mainly what I do is I think. I think of ideas, what I could do, what I couldn’t do, what I should, what I shouldn’t etc; I make everything bigger in my head, aggrandising ideas -  “I’ll do this, and I’ll do this and then I’ll do this!” – but the majority of the time I don’t actually do it here.  I suppose this could be considered my idea base.

What work do you do here? For the Dead Mint exhibition I recently did at Arena Gallery, I exhibited three pieces; I had a video work of someone kissing someone else but from within the mouth. I got it from an American sexual education video, I looped it, reversed it, cut the sound and made it about 20 minutes long. However, I don’t really use my studio for video work – I can just do it at home, in the warmth!  I’ve also been doing these drawings, I suppose they’re kind of complex … they’re are all done in a day or about 9 or 10 hours. I did six of them for this exhibition but I exhibited four of them in frames. They’re kind of like kaleidoscopic images in a way. Mainly though it’s just drawing and ideas I do here; oh and painting is a new thing I’ve been doing. I sometimes use Nick’s stuff to make music with; I don’t know whether he knows that though (he does)! He’s got all the equipment so there’s no point me bringing all mine in, not that I have much, so I use his. Reading a lot of magazines and art journals is also one of my favourite things to do here. I suppose its all part of the ideas process.

What helps you work? Everything – I know that sounds really typical and broad. Reading art magazines really gives me ideas. Music helps a lot. I don’t like working when there’s loads of people in, so I normally stay here when there’s no one here. If a friend comes in I’ll probably end up talking to them and not doing what I’m supposed to be doing! This space is more of a mental space – if I didn’t have a studio I wouldn’t do as much work as I should. It puts me in the frame of mind to do it. Especially with all the connections that Red Wire has got with other studio groups, going to meetings with other studios, it kind of makes you want to do stuff. If I didn’t have this studio I wouldn’t be meeting those people, going these places – I’d probably still be going to previews but it’s not the same.

How many hours a week do you spend here? I try to come in (try to!) Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and sometimes at the weekends. I want to come in more. I’ve been busy with the Dead Mint exhibition, and now I’ve got to take it down so that’s my excuse for procrastinating at the moment. Because of Record Store Day I’ve been focusing on music, and I’ve been working on visuals for a gig at the Kazimier (Alan is in a band called Surt Kitter). Red Wire doesn’t really have any set leaders, its kind of democratic in that sense, we hold group meetings for ideas and actions. Because it’s pretty ‘D.I.Y’ there’s no real ‘manager’,  but I suppose I mainly take care of the finances and communications. I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to certain things, I like to know that things have definitely been actioned or sorted or whatever. I’ve been here the longest out of anyone here maybe that’s why? I do spend quite a lot of time dealing with this stuff.  I include it all in my everyday work, I do it like every other day so I don’t even notice I’m doing it to be honest. With Liverpool Art Month I’m going to be really involved in that; I’ll have to figure out what we need, how funds are going to be spread and invigilation stuff and that. It’s going to be very busy for Red Wire in May. For Light Night (18th May) we will have little exhibitions and stalls in the studios. I think Light Night’s a stepping-stone for people who aren’t really that into art that much. ‘Do something different on a Friday night’, the Light Night flyer says, and I think it’s marketing like this that helps people become interested in art culture and allows spaces like this to work. It’s important that Red Wire still do stuff; a couple of years ago when we had the gallery space, it was good, people knew about it; we haven’t lost our identity as such, but Red Wire certainly has taken a back seat for a while and I’d like to get it back and running again.

Describe your 3 favourite possessions in the studio. Pens! I enjoy a good pen, for obvious reasons – drawing, writing, chewing. The couch; that’s always a good place to think, sleep, or read … if that sofa could speak, it wouldn’t be speaking though, it would be screaming, but we won’t go into that. The art journals; I didn’t really notice it but I’m always looking at them. That one’s from 2007 but I still read it like it’s brand new. It’s good to read and think, yeah, I want to create some good stuff like this. A lot of my drawings are from magazines like this, but I change it quite a bit, whether it be aesthetically or contextually. I suppose I do that with work out of the studio aswell, like my blog … stealing this, using that, putting them together with my own spin.

If your studio could speak, what would it say? I’d like to think it would say: ‘Bring back the gallery’. It probably would actually, I miss it. The studio space must miss it. The Daniel Johnson exhibition, the cross-studio collaborations, the Jad Fair exhibition, it’s all on our website …  I think that’s what’s good about Red Wire; like Wolstenholme Creative Space it’s got a strong connection with music. It’d be dead good to carry that on. That’d be nice.

If there was one important piece of advice you could share with other artists, what would that be? I don’t know, I feel weird; like my advice is worth something? Just to do it, do what you want to do. Try different things, don’t think about it too much, don’t analyse everything you’re doing. If you don’t like it, disregard it, learn from it. Create stuff, be creative, be proactive, put on exhibitions, put on events, make a noise, get people involved.  It’s all just a big experience I suppose, and if it’s not a good one, what’s the point? If I could go back to university my advice to myself would be to do more workshops; learn more skills, instead of just doing one thing. That’s one thing I do regret.  I should have done more woodwork workshops, more steelwork workshops, more printing, more etching, more AV stuff. Just do what you want and be try to happy! Its hard, but try.

Posted on 22/04/2012 by thedoublenegative