Artist in res­i­dence

Cre­ative space The sci-fi artist re­veals his stu­dio and the bric-a-brac that ac­com­pa­nies him on his trav­els through un­known worlds

ImagineFX - - Contents -

“Wel­come to the Tem­ple of my Imag­i­na­tion” says John Har­ris as he shows us around his light-filled stu­dio.

So, wel­come to the Tem­ple of my Imag­i­na­tion. This is where I spend most of my wak­ing hours. At 42 square me­tres, this T-shaped space is the big­gest room in the house.

It has the un­usual fea­ture, for a stu­dio, of hav­ing a large south-fac­ing glass gable win­dow look­ing out onto the gar­den. The long, top bar of the T is the work space, where all my tools, plan chests, draw­ing boards and paint­ing equip­ment is. The north wall along the top bar of the T is the place where it all hap­pens. This is where I’ve fixed ba­tons to the wall that serve as an enor­mous easel.

I usu­ally get into the stu­dio be­tween 9 and 9.30 in the morn­ing, and spend a while pot­ter­ing around, sort­ing things out. If it’s win­ter I’ll light the lit­tle wood­burner, in­stalling the cat in front of it. All of this is pure pro­cras­ti­na­tion, de­lay­ing my ap­proach to the North Face. That’s what I call the wall where I work on my cur­rent can­vases.

And this is when I dis­cover that the oil paint I left on the pal­ette the night be­fore is no longer us­able, and has to be scraped off. But no mat­ter, be­cause in the process I of­ten find in­ter­est­ing colour com­bi­na­tions. By the time I ac­tu­ally get down to ap­ply­ing paint to the can­vas, it could well be 11am. An hour later and the dog is cross­ing her legs and wants a walk.

So it’s 12.30pm or so, be­fore I’m back in front of the paint­ing. It’s 2pm and my wife has re­turned, need­ing the odd chore or two to be done. I’m hun­gry and munch some­thing on the hoof, then go back into the stu­dio at around 2.30-2.45pm for more chew­ing on my lip to get right what I got wrong in the morn­ing. At 4pm the fire’s gone out, the cat’s com­plain­ing, both

An Asian throw I picked up in Granada. It’s there be­cause it’s a per­fect evo­ca­tion of moon­light in dis­creet colours. The stu­dio would not be the same with­out the stove and its con­stant fe­line com­pan­ion. I use th­ese pig­ments in some ex­per­i­men­tal work that I’ve been do­ing (see The Se­cret His­tory of the Earth at www.hid­den­sun.co.uk). Get a big­ger brush! When­ever I start fid­dling with art­work, th­ese are to hand. They’re won­der­ful for lib­er­at­ing a piece. A rolling pin is a very use­ful way to squeeze the last bit of paint out of a tube. Paint­ing from a dis­tance us­ing long brushes is some­times es­sen­tial to get the right val­ues. It also in­tro­duces an el­e­ment of chance, be­cause it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to fully con­trol the brush marks.

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