In both its Art Deco style and central location, the aptly named Majestic Court in Stoke, Staffordshire bridges the aesthetic gap between the Victorian library and the mid century market it faces, towering over both. Occupying the ground floor is Majestic Studios, an artist led work space.
Inside the character changes dramatically. The low false ceiling with patches of frosted skylight and strip lighting bear down overhead, announcing strongly its previous incarnation as (presumably) a homogeneous office space. But for the symmetry of this practical installation, the room has been transformed, colonised, as if its workforce had been shut in indefinitely and been forced to build a new world for itself. There is no one there when I visit except for one Artist who occupies the only space with good natural light, so the studio lighting remains off. Still there is a electric buzzing that I spend some time attempting to locate, but like chasing a rainbow, it fades and appears elsewhere when I approach it.
This large open space has been separated, ad-hoc, into ‘pens’; Into self made, ramshackle territories of contemplation. Side chapels dedicated to the solo-worship of each Artists obsession. In these spaces it is impossible to distinguish artwork from inspiration from tool, as many of the objects are being put to use to define or adorn individual territories.
I found myself in a post apocalyptic framing service. Only realising as much when I finally identified several pieces of framing and mount cutting equipment defining the edges of one of the central pens (brave I thought, to be exposed on all sides). Beyond this there is a more obvious allotment, walled on two sides and surrounded by tarpaulin drapery on the other two -nothing to see here. How intriguing. A peek inside revealed a crime scene. Inflatable Christmas decorations had met their ends at the hands of Artist Corey Whyte. Suffocated with insulation foam and entombed in mono-tonal paint. 3 feet away the Environmental Artist (who graciously let me in) Su Hurrell, had built a palette fortress around her space which is flooded with defused light from roof glazing above, giving her patch the feel of an enclosed court garden. An oasis, lightly peppered with small fern like plants growing out of old pairs of boots. Back to the shadows and I am met by a tryptic of 5-foot canvases leaning up against the wall of Artist Andrew Cliff’s territory. All three are entirely black but for a choppily defined strip of light along the top edge. The space is narrow, dark and long, adding to the effect of the paintings- which induce a feeling of finding oneself at the bottom of a deep valley as daylight begins to fade. Behind a curtain made of denim jeans is a dining table that reminds me of the pastel coloured domestic idyl that was sold to the upwardly mobile families of the 1960’s. It has three chairs, one place setting with plates and cutlery and some other items; a potato masher, a clock, a stack of 2 coffee cups, a candle. I imagine what the story is here- does one person eat mashed potato against the clock while two adjudicators look on with coffee by candle light? Of course not. This table is an idea pending, a birth in progress.
Stacks of books and boxes, chairs and shelves take up the only remaining floor space other than the narrow pathways between regions. A charity radio station and book shop has been relieved of their building by keen eyed property developers, with only 12 days notice. These new inhabitants, these rental refugees must now begin building their own boundary markers, their own alters of interest here. Opposite the indoor market, next to the trade entrance of Bargain Buys.by