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Review: Sketchsperiment at Road Studios for Light Night


Road Studios. Light Night, Friday 13 May 2016

Words and photographs by Patrick Kirk-Smith

One of the annual highlights of Light Night is the inclusion of open studio events, and 2016 was no exception, with Road Studios opening up their third floor artist studio complex in a very specific way. One of the most exciting things about any open studios event, looking from an artists’ perspective, is how groups of artists come together to sweep, mop and buff out any stains around their tables to turn a working environment into a gallery one.

These shifts in how space is used provide not just a unique perspective on unique places, but create a whole new kind of space which can only really be described accurately as temporal. And that is seriously special. A space that didn’t exist yesterday, and won’t exist on Monday, and will only really live on in how it influences the next thing the artist produces. I always leave an open studios feeling like I owe them something, because it’s truly intimate being invited into that kind of a space.

Road Studios did their Open Studios a little differently this year too. Sure, they had the standard stuff, with some interesting work scattered around the studio spaces, but they put most of their effort into proving beyond all doubt that this is one of the tightest knit studio communities in Liverpool.

Using the exquisite corpse game to bring the talents of their studio holders together, as well as utilising the power of Twitter to engage directly with visitors, meant that the studio culture here, on the top floor of the Crown Buildings on Victoria Street, was alive and kicking before, during and after its Light Night event.

Exquisite corpse has been used by everyone from Salvador Dali to my reception teacher, and I’d put money on you having played it yourself at some point, in some form. It’s the game where a piece of paper gets folded and drawn on in turns, where everyone provides a different segment of a body. Those segments, in the case of Road, were drawn as a whole, sawn into pieces, and then used to invite the public to engage with the work of the studio holders. And to add to the already buzzing atmosphere, the images allowed for Bowie’s head to be put on Prince’s torso, with a dragon’s tail. It’s just something you don’t see every day.

That, paired with their Twitter Sketchperiment, meant that studio holders spent the evening at the mercy of their visitors. I can’t think of a better way to produce an open studio event, and I’ve never left one feeling like I had a say before. This was far more than an open studio, this was an exhibition that conjured visions of a studio community working together in a space without barriers; literally producing work that gelled into one.