For a long time we have been drawn to small spaces, small houses, & different ways & places of living. Interesting adaptions of common & otherwise unused spaces & even small spaces occurring in larger open spaces have an unexplained allure. Clearings in forests, an opening between rooftops, a dilapidated barn, hollows or a nook on a mountain side with a view, or a curve in a bow of a tree that says you can be safe here & it crosses our mind as a playful idea 'what would it take to live here'.
Small spaces are something we encounter in our day to day lives & we learn to adapt to them, to work with them but rarely do we find ourselves pursuing them. We've all been lead to believe we need space, that space is key to thriving, to be able to move, work & live. But something that we weren't told about was the condition of all this space & the route that all this space will take you, an extra ingredient, a way of life & something that maybe once was a luxury & is now a commodity, even an epidemic. Stuff.
We started exploring spaces, looking for stories & trying to understand the language of space. This took us, perhaps inevitably, to wanting to make spaces to understand more fully what we maybe guessed at this point & trying to move away from all the stuff. Our first tiny space adventure was our mobile studio. Our work had been looking at encounters with objects & homemaking, exploring natural materials & traditional crafts & a journey north in Scotland was next up for us.
There was the logistics of finding or making a space that would double up as a living space for on the road, our working space on location & transport for finished work to exhibition. Sketch after sketch took us to a dream outcome, what a fabulously exciting moment that was. Now for the task of getting the idea off the ground. Very soon we realised that being home made & mobile, with the intention of actually going on road, was going to be more of a challenge than we ever thought. Having poured over books & blogs of inspiring individuals, families & whole communities who have up & left, packing their homes & lives into gloriously diverse & unique wagons, renovated buses, trucks & even houses on wheels- this simply couldn't be a reality with the increasingly strict licensing for 'edit' or hand/ home made vehicles in the UK & was going to make this either near impossible to do on our budget or illegal. How to get round that.
Doing the project on a budget, with a fairly tight time frame & doing all the work ourselves meant the best way forward would be to build what we needed without 'editing the structure or integrity' of an existing vehicle, as DVLA kindly explained. So for now the flatbed trailer has gone back to its farming duties: unless we could get our skills at welding, joinery & building verified & signed off by a licensed dealer who would effectively OK our vehicle against UK standards (bearing in mind that only a handful of people do this & for a lot of money), that was that off the table. We turned our search instead to old horse boxes & trailers & found just what we were looking for from an equestrian enthusiast updating their gear.
A week of late nights, stud frames, panels of insulation, crazy amounts of coffee consumed as we stood staring at a particular problem that had stumped us, & many a trip to the hardware store (you always use more nails, nuts & bolts than you would ever imagine) we had our tiny mobile studio ready for its test drive... just as soon as we got our towing license, booked in just one days time.
Towing test successfully behind us (yay!) we hit the road to discover a new world of possibility & open doors. Our adventure became more than just research or a field trip where we had to record, catalogue & take what we could- ideas & materials away with us back to the studio to later develop work. We could just exist, experience, take in & create on location. Work evolved from a gathering process to reacting to our environment & location & the incredible luxury & immense feeling of just being in a space & having the time to engage. We spent days drawing, walking, climbing, talking, thinking, sleeping & then being able to step out & be right back in the work.
Even in all the space of the outdoors, being on the road, we always have to adapt to the studio & our home on wheels. Like living in our caravan we had to learn to adapt to small spaces, to downsize & exist in half of what you thought you needed. In both cases it has made us realise how little you really need & how crucial some objects become whilst others fall away. Downsizing our lives to live in a tiny space is quite calculated. A new kind of organising & shedding of materialism around us & taking things of use or some kind of value to us. Adapting to make work on the go was surprisingly straight forward in comparison. You go out with the intention to make & you encounter your materials & learn the stories & their meaning as you make. Work has a way of coming to life when you're living in it.
This journey took us to some incredible spaces, small & vast; places where you felt you could exist & thrive & others that demonstrated that we really are just a cog in the bigger picture, bigger place. We encountered so many incredibly things, learnt new materials & new ways of working & reflecting; meeting people, other adventurers, makers, explorers of spaces & inspiring builders left us hungry for more. Back home & unpacked, with lambing in full swing, sitting listing to the new born lambs bae we ponder where next & what will our next adventure bring.
Until next time,