In The Studio: Richard Woods, artist
'Art is as much about design as it is art. And design is as much about art'
Friday 29 March 2013
Blaring music greets me as the door opens into Richard Woods' light and bright space in an ex-factory building in Bermondsey, south London. Woodsy, as he is known to his friends, has been here for a year, sharing his space with four full-time assistants whose activities are divided between working on computers and printing. The building itself has studios for about 100 artists, into one of which we escape to talk quietly.
Some of the abstract-appearing paintings that will "probably" be in Woods' forthcoming London show are strewn around the studio. "I have been shopping in the Old Kent Road in B&Q", he says; he's bought radiator covers that he has been printing through, using them as a quasi-stencil. "I like the idea that they look grown-up but they are sourced as something that is dreadfully kitsch."
Woods points out that you can buy a Victorian or Tudor cover but unlike the originals, "It is about the completely opposite scale, you are taking a Victorian pattern or a Tudor pattern and compressing it." The aim, unlike that of many artists, is not to make the finished article perfect, but to allow the imperfections, the hand, to show. "The way I print is at odds with the thing, so the print gets in the way and disturbs the geometry."
Woods, born in Chester in 1966, has always been interested in the process of making, whether cladding large buildings with his immersive patterns of highly coloured, often incongruous "logos" of bricks, tendrils or fake Tudor beams, or making furniture with Established & Sons, one of his several collaborators. Woods' first logo was done in January 2000, and he has recently completed number 109.
In six months Woods will move into his most ambitious project to date, a studio/home for both his practice and his family. He admits to being nervous about the prospect: "I am interested in trying it because it is an extension of the philosophy of what I do."
Working with architect Alex de Rijke of the practice dRMM, they are essentially "making a building that is in a sense going to be an art work". The outside will be half clad in a Woods green trendril-like logo and half in natural wood. There will be the workshop/studio below, with a separate thinking space for Woods; and living space above, crowned with a small quiet retreat which he will share with his wife, Jess Spanyol, a children's book illustrator, away from their three growing children.
I am excited about the prospect of visiting him in his next studio, where I will hope to see the realisation of his theory that: "Art is as much about design as it is art, and design is as much about art as it is about design." Woods has always wanted to build a house: "It is about dragging what I do into reality."
D.I.Y, a new site-specific installation by Richard Woods, Alan Cristea Gallery, London W1 (020 7439 1866) 29 April to 1 June
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