The founders of one of Aberdeen’s newest studios have hailed the “sense of community” that artists have formed over lockdown.
Peter Baxter and Allan Watson opened Deemouth Studios in November 2019 to provide some much-needed space for the city’s creative community.
Since then they have made 27 studios on the Torry site, with plans for a new one early in 2021.
They house ceramicists, jewellers, painters, graphic designers, sculptors, a glassmaker and, soon, a guitar-maker – all of whom have seen their work affected by the pandemic.
Among them is sculptor Mr Watson, a former lecturer at Gray’s School of Art.
He described the last year as different for “artists”, who create while earning their money elsewhere, and “makers”, who rely on selling their work for a living.
He said: “My wife is also an artist, and we both kind of enjoyed lockdown, because there’s been no distractions.
“Normally we visit people and go places, but we’ve just been concentrating on our work, and I think that’s the same for most artists.
“The makers have struggled, because they need a more regular turnover of make, sell, make, sell, and the selling opportunities were severely hampered.”
‘Feeling of community’
Despite often working in solitude, the studio’s resident artists have naturally formed a loose group which proved invaluable during the darkest days of the pandemic.
Mr Watson said: “The sense of community has grown with it, so that’s attracted more people, and that community is driven more by the tenants themselves than by us.”
Mr Baxter, who works in joinery, plumbing and property maintenance, added: “There’s a lot of cross-fertilisation of ideas and projects going on, with people working together.
“It’s that feeling of community and support, on all levels. They come here, they get a nice room, well-painted, an option to build something that will help their craft.
“It generates better art, and definitely better mental health.”
Facing the future
After last March’s UK-wide lockdown was imposed, the studio closed for around a month until the artists decided they could work safely alone in their spaces with Covid precautions in place.
As restrictions eased, the makers managed to exhibit at various markets to give them a much-needed boost.
Mr Baxter and Mr Watson hope to continue supporting those at the studio by potentially creating craft shops, an informal teaching area and a gallery.
In the coming months, Mr Baxter believes there is no limit to the positive effect art could have on the city.
He said: “There needs to be some reinvention of Aberdeen’s economy, I don’t know what’s going to do it.
“I’m not sure if art is the answer, because oil was such a huge thing, but it’s certainly helping. There’s a lot of creativity going around.”