Studio from home: how a remote university challenges creative minds

It is no breaking news that home is becoming our workplace, our new gym, our new restaurants, and now that autumn is here our new university.

For art students, it is the entire studio moving into their flat. They have collaborative design thinking via calls, model making in the kitchen. Let’s have a look at how students from the College of Art adapt to a remote learning lifestyle, and how it challenges their vision of creative work in a home-stuck-home world.

To adapt to the country’s social distancing rules, the College of Art has restricted studio access for students and staffs results in a booking-in-advance system. All scheduled studio hours that would have occurred during the semester have all been cancelled.

This restriction impacts students from across the college on their creative work. Caitlin, a third-year student in Fine Art remarks, “You can only book workshops that you have been previously inducted in.

My practice focuses heavily around printmaking, and I am now unable to experiment with new forms of print. This massively limits my creative potential.” Furthermore, even though studios can be accessed, the two-hour limit and the absence of storage space for paintings and models make the whole process unappealing.

Considering that all students are paying full tuition fee as any other year, this provokes concerns among them.

What students are missing is not only the material lack of studio and art supply but also the creative environment and mindset within which they usually work.“I was used to going into the studio and collaborating on projects, constantly talking to people about each other’s work in person. Studying from home is 100 per cent more isolating” affirms Kitty, a third-year architecture student.

Additionally, reaching out to tutors and lecturers has been another struggle. Students from all disciplines agree that emails and zoom calls cannot replace in-person interactions. “Of course, I can book a meeting or email them, etc. But there is not really a space for casual, ‘Is this ok? Am I missing something?’” argues Daisy, a third-year animation student.

However, a lack of studio access did not stop students from setting up their home studio within their respective homes. For instance, Oriana, studying architecture, set up in her bedroom her home casting workshop. For Caitlin, her painting studio is merging with her room amongst plants and records.

Daisy gives some tips for anyone struggling with artmaking from home: “I try to think of potential distractions as inspirations.” For her, working remotely has been a way to focus more on her work: “I think it gave me more access to things that allow me to think creatively. At home is where I keep all my art books, all my records, all my DVDs. It’s much easier for me to consume other people’s creativity and use that to influence my own work.”

From an architecture perspective, Kitty reflects on how the current situation can bring insights into the field: “I think the individualism it has forced upon students is interesting to think about from a design point of view. I guess designers like challenges and the pandemic poses interesting questions about human psychology that we haven’t been able to confront yet.”

Furthermore, Oriana talks about the digitalisation of the field: “We have been learning more visual tools like video making to present architecture in this new digitised landscape”.

In such times, seeing how students are adapting to new ways of learning, creating and sharing in spite of the circumstances is beyond inspiring. When isolation is becoming a global shared lifestyle, put your records on and let your art carry on and fill the space up: you are not alone.

Image: Caitlin Whitaker