See Papadimitriou’s work in WTP Vol. VI #6
Inside the Studio offers a behind-the scenes peek into the work environments of WTP artists, as well as insight into their creative process within these resonate spaces.
By Jennifer Nelson, WTP Feature Writer
For sixteen months, Froso Papadimitriou has painted and drawn in a studio in a beautiful Georgian mansion outside London. At Beckenham Place Mansion, she escapes the big city, working afternoons and evenings in a first-floor studio next to the workspace of four other artists. Just outside her studio are acres of rolling parkland.
“The tranquility of the scenery enables me to focus and, in a way, submerge in a creative process,” says Papadimitriou, a native of Greece. “With the other artists working there, we have formed a community and that creates a warm and inspiring atmosphere.”
Papadimitriou found out about the availability of studios at Beckenham through an open call to local artists and word-of-mouth from an artist friend. Both her friend and her were accepted, and moved in to studios in March 2017. Until that time, the mansion had been closed to the public. “When we had the grand opening of the mansion and studios, the attendance of the local community and their welcome was beyond expectations,” she says.
In April 2017, Beckenham Place Mansion opened as an arts, cultural, and community center. It offers artist studios, a yoga and pilates center, and art classes. On the grounds, concerts and food markets are regularly held, while rooms in the house are rented out for special events. The building previously housed a boy’s school, sanatorium, and prisoner-of-war camp—and its land once boasted a golf course. Royalty has visited Beckenham.
For Papadimitriou, a studio dedicated to artwork is a necessary luxury. In the past, she has worked in a garage in the back yard of a house she’s renting, a shared live-and-work warehouse, a kitchen, living room, and even bathroom. In these places, she produced art, but at the Beckenham studio she feels more focused and dedicated to her profession. There, she can work on large-scale, extensive experimentations—and it has the benefit of making her appear more professional.
“A more professional element comes in terms of inviting people and presenting my work’s progress (at this studio) rather than at my landlady’s garage,” she says. “Not that there is anything wrong with that—and sometimes I still use it when I’m working with certain materials not suitable for a shared space.”
Her workday in the studio varies since she must work around another job. Normally, she’s there two to four days a week—including weekends. She arrives around 1 p.m. and stays until 9 or 10 p.m.—and even later when she can arrange it with studio managers. Upon arrival, she starts working, though occasionally she first stops to chat with other artists.
Her days are defined by the artwork. Sometimes, she works on different projects simultaneously depending on her mood and the urgency for completion. She often stops for a snack break, which gives her time to admire the park’s grounds.
Artists are busy with their own personal projects, leaving little time for collaboration. Yet, in the common open-space studio, artists can talk and work at the same time—and draw support and inspiration from each other. “We are hoping to do a collaborative project in the future,” says Papadimitriou, who came to England in 2006 to complete her education.
Papadimitriou starts work directly on the canvas or other material. She uses recycled materials that she has found or someone has given her. These materials are piled in her studio, waiting to become part of her creations. Sometimes, these objects inspire her to work on a specific idea.
Signature elements to her artwork are threads, bright colors, and socially-driven subject matter. In her work, each thread represents life, while each thread cluster stands for social circles and societies. Papadimitriou draws from an ancient Greek myth, in which Clotho unravels the thread of life to a person, Lachesis measures it, and Atropos cuts it. In Greece, the artist studied applied arts, illustration/sketching, and graphic design. Later, she earned a BFA at Middlesex University and a Masters in Arts Management and Policy at Birkbeck, University of London.
In her artwork, Papadimitriou comments on the self’s isolation from public involvement. She describes her work as a reaction that “explores the binaries that resonate between the self and its role within social environments.” To create her art, she uses observation, personal experiences, and testimonies.
Through beautiful, vibrant colors, Papadimitriou entices viewers to spend time looking at her paintings and sculptures. She wants viewers to discuss social issues depicted in her work. In general, her paintings and drawings are abstract expressions, whereas her sculptures, installations, and occasional video are ideas derived from a theme.
Her studio fluctuates between chaos and order. She stores all her materials there, which means that they sometimes get in the way. When she arrives at the studio, she tidies up from the previous day’s work. Then, she starts to slowly create a mess by day’s end. “It is a repetitive action similar to a ritual,” she says.
In the past, Papadimitriou has curated exhibitions and events, worked at Topolski Century Gallery, and taught art. She co-founded Collaborative Art/Flowing Projects, a non-profit focusing on collaborative projects. At home, she does administrative work and research, while in the studio, she creates and experiments. She’s stopped or put on hold non-artistic pursuits. “I have decided to take a step back and work more in the studio as I have two big projects coming up in 2019,” she says.
Next year, Papadimitriou will face another change. She’ll spend a year in an artists’ village in Greece, where she’ll do research for an ongoing project. During the second half of the year, she’ll work with different artists and institutions on a series of projects in Southeast Asia. She’s known these artists for the past two years—and thus, a collaborative art project will be born.
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