You know it’s a ‘wreck’ but go for it anyway

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I am a thinker. I ponder and agonise instead of making decisions.

It’s one of my weaknesses. And strengths. Seeing every angle, every nuance…. The more thinking, the more complex and intriguing it gets. Fewer decisions get made. Delay tactics.

The truth is that I’ve been looking for a decent workable studio in Europe for ages, with no luck. I’ve just been making do.

So what do you do when it’s too hard and you can’t decide? I do nothing. Just wait for things to get clear. Except that sometimes they don’t.

Now, that can turn out to be either dangerous or exciting, because then life and circumstances decide for you. The startling thing is that that when I stew and procrastinate my subconscious gets annoyed, takes control out of sheer frustration, and makes the decision for me.

So it feels like it is almost by default, or rather despite myself, that I have found a new studio in Barcelona.

I should call it a ‘potential’ studio. Because, to put it politely, it needs work.

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Unfortunately photos don’t do it’s rattiness ‘full justice’ - it almost looks pristine...But believe me, the walls are seriously hacked into, the floor is mostly rubble, the wiring prehistoric, the toilet cistern not connected to the bowl (the effect is purely cosmetic), and broken window panes sit inside rotten frames.

REWIND: How did it come to this?

I’m looking to rent a little studio space but can’t find anything - what’s on offer is either an hour’s bus ride away or grand larceny.

Wandering the streets, seeing so many vacant shops and abandoned businesses, it’s hard not to think about possibilities...

Almost as a joke, I start looking at old garages and shops. Expecting not to find anything suitable or affordable.

The first properties I visit are either long, skinny, lightless corridors, or abandoned sleazy bars (painted either red or lime green). None of them vaguely rectangular. So when a real estate agent starts describing the place she thinks is perfect for me I’m sceptical.

I go to visit. And see a grimy, dusty cavern, stuffed floor to ceiling with pallets of tinned tomatoes, eels, noodles and other market produce.

Being the cavern is a secret low door, and I bend Alice-In-Wonderland style to enter.

There’s a ceiling hovering twenty centimetres above my head. I mentally put another big ‘X’ next to this dreadful place.

Later in the day, my husband tactfully (well,rather forcefully actually) suggests that I reconsider, pointing out that the front ‘cavern’ (with a very tall ceiling) is already WAY bigger than my current studio, even forgetting about the back ‘bonus’ section.

In an absolute turn of events, six weeks later, I am clutching a heavy and rusty set of keys, tentatively entering what is my very own space. Now it’s fix-it-up time.

Seriously, how much do you need in an artist’s studio?

Actually, more than I realise; power would nice, some water and a sink too, somewhere to plug in the electric kettle, some light and ventilation, a toilet…

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Luckily I find some optimistic builders. When they start excavations in the tiny bathroom, they uncover a kind of septic/drainage tank - part of the sewerage system for the six storey building. And it hasn’t been cleaned out in living memory so there are unmentionable substances below, all thick and solid. It needs professional emptying. As in a truck or two.

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So, here we are in early February, and the workers have mostly finished. What was supposed to have taken ta couple of weeks has dragged into five and counting.

It will be a marathon instead of a sprint, but I’m still up for it.

PS Deadline looming:

Barcelona has an annual ‘Open Studio’ event in May, but there’s not much time left to apply. There is a selection process and I have one week left, but need to include photos of my studio. I will need to get some sort of staged setup happening, because it’s not looking much like a studio right now.

PPS I just checked with a friend and she says not to kill myself to participate this year as it’s mainly a community event where neighbours come to visit. So I have decided to let it drop till next year.

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The before shot of the bathroom

The before shot of the bathroom

Bathroom progress…

Bathroom progress…

The old floor

The old floor

Now there are tiles and a kitchenette

Now there are tiles and a kitchenette

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Next, Laurent and are painting the walls.

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