Studio Complex at Tate Exchange

How Central Saint Martins took over Tate Exchange for a week to engage with the public in questioning the studio of the future…

London, once a city with overlooked spaces open to occupation and experimentation, has become an increasingly difficult environment for emerging artists. Those graduating from art school now find fewer spaces in which to work, with affordable studios a thing of the past. In the five-year period between 2014 and 2019, it is predicted that 30 per cent of artists’ studios in London will be lost (see GLA’s Artists’ Workshop Study). In response, artists challenged and re-invented the studio.

Here’s how students from MA Art and Science reimagined the studio of the future…


Maritina Keleri’s studio was the CVR Device experiment, where CVR stands for Cubist Visual Reality. Participants would have to wear the CVR goggles and try to draw what they would see through them; the goggles had mirrors at angles that would give a distorted view of the world, similar to a Cubist painting. The task was a challenge but all participants carried it out with humour! Children were curious to try the weird goggles and the grown-ups, shy at first, but nonetheless very willing to explore a ‘more interesting’ view, as many of them commented.  It was a pleasure to see what would each one create and what would catch their eye! 


CVR stands for cubist visual Reality  


Riko Yasumiya thinks about whether artists need to present work with technically high skill? The line is the simplest and easiest figure. Participants experienced how this simple figure makes complex images through this embroidery workshop” 

Lines(left), The experiment’s outcome (right)


Shannon Bono‘s studio is her bedroom… “As an emerging artist and student living in London, I rely on a positive space and attitude to keep me motivated and creative. My space consists of art, music and culture which I represented with the African aesthetics, classic records and my favourite sayings on the walls of the room. I encouraged people to participate in the space and write down important lessons learnt, words of advice and personal aspirations. I am a firm believer in the power of writing things down and watching them manifest, so to encourage artists and everyone else to keep motivated in the midst of the barriers we face.”

Shannon’s studio – my bedroom


For Tate Exchange Olga Suchanova presented a two day ‘Photogrammetry Yourself’ event. This event was a demonstration of how we are able to create a three-dimensional computer generated portrait from two-dimensional images. Afterwards, participants could find their three-dimensional portrait on the website.

‘Photogrammetry Yourself’


An artist studio created by Ding Tianer and Lin Jie – a black triangular cloth prism, an inner space separated from the outside world for the artist to work. It is 1.6 meters for each side of the triangle and 2.2 meters tall. Follow the arrow and step inside. How do you feel? And discover the plastic mirrors behind the black cloth. Stay in the prism to feel the atmosphere inside it and go out again. How do you feel now? “The eastern people feel so depressed with the narrow space, dim light and hard to breathe. However, the western people feels quite comfortable inside and want to stay in it for a long time.”

a black triangular cloth prism


Lois Bentley created a post-disciplinary playground studio. She transformed the wiring loom of a Ford Ka by bringing it out and onto the operating table. Industrial gloves exchanged for medical ones. “What is this everyday object of tangled bright and black wires? People came and imagined with me. Two people went into an impromptu riff, which they were happy for me to record. People saw afresh and labelled and talked and learned and completed a forensically accurate map of the loom.” Lois collected treasure for the loom’s next outing.

My Ka wiring loom, forensically examined.



A vision of Julie Light and Jill Mueller‘s studio was the invisible interior of the human body. Each visitor to their studio space created a ‘cell’ depicting a microscopic view of the body’s insides. Some visitors took their inspiration from invented ‘specimen tubes’ and books where they could view images of tissue, cells, galaxies, seas and other natural forms, while others preferred to work entirely from their imagination. The result was an amazing array of different designs. As each ‘cell’ was completed, it was hung onto a body outline to create a composite vision of the microscopic human body, part of a participative artwork that Jill and Julie intend to add to over a series of events.


‘Our Studio Is Inside Your Body’


A second collaborative vision looked to the gallery and the Tate Modern as their studio space. Inspired by Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan’s Evidence (1977), Jill and Julie curated their own collection of photographs and then asked Tate visitors to give the work a title and theme. What story were these images telling? What did individual viewers see in them? As with Evidence, each viewer becomes an active participant in (re)creating the artwork, giving it new context and allowing meaning to emerge that draws on their unique experience and imagination.

‘Our Studio Is the Art Gallery’


Becky Lyon hosted Fragrant/ Futures at Tate Exchange as part of a wider body of research where she collected signals, thoughts and reactions from the public on how the future will ’sense’. “In particular I am interested in the sense of smell. This modality is highly personal to each individual and evokes a unique set of associations, emotions and memories. The data collected will feed into a resource that will be used to develop richer artistic responses around the future of the post-natural environment.  For the event, I prepared three different scents designed to evoke different types of future environment. Participants were invited to smell and write down what associations came to mind – is this a post-apocalyptic earth or a breath of fresh air? A restorative forest or slow-degrading plastic? I had brilliant, insightful conversations with the participants. Scent it seems is a gateway to disarming the audience, a subject that everyone can relate to and contribute to.”

Fragrant/ Futures


Jylle Navarro created aNeon Naked life drawing class in ultra violet light, where the participants can draw in neon pastels. The model wears fluorescent accessories and body paints. She engaged the audience by giving creative instruction such as draw in the style of pointillism or follow a continuous line and as well as many others. Jylle especially enjoyed teaching in the same building that is the home of some of the great iconic images that help influence the art world. She found the bold architecture of the Tate really complemented the class and it was a pleasure to be a part of it. More information is here –

Neon Naked Life Drawing Class at the Tate Exchange


The Physical Digital Flow studio was a collaborative effort to question how contemporary artistic practices have to play with the interface between the physical and digital world. It consisted of three stations: Tactile Modelling with Tere Chad, Kinetic Audio with Pandora Peng, and Digital Tracing with Rose Mengmei Zhou. A video taster of how it went can be found here:

Pandora created Kinetic Audio station by using a conductive board. When people touched the patterns of the crystal, sounds were triggered. An interesting thing was the board sometimes does not work. This was a good experience for her to consider how to change the mindset to cope with this problem. She ended up as a performer using her own adapted behaviour to change the viewer’s feeling.  

Talking to the viewer


Walking, waving, scratching head, rolling some tape on the floor, or bouncing some balloons in the air. Rose’s digital tracing station became a playful experiment of generating patterns using movement of bodies, human and objects alike. By passing a camera live video feed of the space through a custom program, the traces of movement or stillness that usually go unnoticed were harvested digitally and projected. The traces accumulated until a “screengram” was taken, providing an alternative view of presence and brief history of the space, allowing the participants to react spontaneously with unexpected marks that was generated by their own bodies and surroundings. An archive of these screengrams can be found at the trail catcher account on Twitter:

Rose’s digital tracing station


For Sabrina Hasan the Tate Exchange studio participation was purely parasitic. “During the four hour set, I had an example of a parasite-host interaction presented as: two hung flame retardant coated sewn sculptures – stretched apart using a bright yellow spring, with the coils ranging from large to small. The spring exercised a potential volume that can be understood as a connector between the parasite and the new host environment. The spring acted as a physical manifestation for an interruption. This interaction was maintained within a framed structure. Accompanied with the area for potential learning and observing parasite-host interactions; was a computer dictated voice, articulating my Socio-Parasitology Manifesto. You need to interrupt in order to be parasitic. I collected data from the public’s responses to the work and the manifesto – they vocalised one interruption they have experienced.”

Socio Parasitology by Sabrina Mumtaz Hasan


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