Daniel Silver – The importance of affordable creative workspace to artists and the city.

November 26, 2021

“A studio or space to work in is one of the most basic requirements for an artist.”

Recently we have been discussing the impact of building affordable workspace on the property sector, but what does it mean to artists individually? We spoke to artist ambassador Daniel Silver to get an insight into the importance of affordable creative workspaces for artists and creatives.

Daniel, what drew you to become an ambassador for Creative Land Trust?

The reason I joined as an ambassador, is because it feels really important we support artists. If we go to Sweden, Italy or Germany studios are much more available, affordable and in better condition, not a prison cell style studio space. A studio or space to work in is one of the most basic requirements for an artist, it should be the norm and we need to work to make this happen.

For a painter or a sculptor, you need space to create but also to share your ideas, if you have space to do that it enriches you as a human and the world around you. If you have a small desk does that give you space to fulfil your potential? and if you fulfil yourself then the world around, you gain from it. It’s like a plant, if you see a beautiful plant growing, if you see a beautiful artist growing, the world around them enjoys it. 

As a sculptor how important has the space, or environment, in which you work been?

The studio is a space you can try out ideas, where you can live with what you make before it goes out to the world. It’s a brain in which you can place things, walk around them, experience them. As the world becomes more digital, and people work with computers and make work with computers, I think it is very important to have space. Space where you can think, space where you can work out ideas and make mistakes.

Unfortunately, though it’s always been difficult to find affordable spaces to work, particularly in London. It has been near impossible to find affordable space to inspire or support artists’ work. When I was young I could put up with it but the space I did find, but it wasn’t the ideal situation for making work.

If we can create opportunities for young and old artists to come into space where they are welcomed by the light, weather and warmth, they are more likely to flourish. A welcoming environment for artists to communicate with fellow thinkers around them is very important.

There’s a moment when you come out of art school that you must start creating your own environment and structure. It’s difficult to find spaces, supportive spaces that aren’t dark and cold. For me, at the beginning it was impossible, but I was lucky to eventually get my own studio to support my practice.

Do you think the lack of space or environment ever hindered you or your peers?

Whilst I often found some kind of space the lack of quality space hindered me. The space I found myself in often became depressing, heavy and uninviting. If we can create spaces that are inviting, we can encourage a situation where studios start to inform the space around them. Artists can integrate their ideas with individuals and the environment outside. When you have a studio you have people walking around you see a clear relationship developing between creatives, the surrounding area, and what happens within it.

The environment around affects an artist in the studio, but an artist in the studio has the power to impact the environment around them, work seeps out to the street and the people, it informs and creates a buzz,  things happen.

Would you say those creative communities are more supportive and beneficial to artists than isolated studios?

Some people enjoy working within a community however, others are more individual and like to be alone. Understandably, it very much depends on each person and their way of working, some people enjoy community, others like it but not when they work. But when you first start a community is very important,  you spend most of your time alone in the studio, so it is good to have a community you can tap on when you need.

Photographer: Benjamin Westoby

And what would you say about the importance of artists being in London.

Great art happens in great cities.  Great cities have an energy that as an artist you want to tap into. London is going through a tough time and artists are really important for the city. If you think about the amazing shows you can see, they inform and question your ideas.

The existing culture encourages artists to explore and question, artists’ affect the city at so many different levels, through education, sharing their ideas, shows and exhibitions, they impact each other in so many ways. The city is a great hub of ideas.

You can’t really choose what comes into your mind in the studio, but when you come from a cosmopolitan city with people from diverse backgrounds, those diverse backgrounds affect you as a maker or thinker, they bring ideas and refresh ways of thinking and looking and this very important. So artists have a part to play, and if we can support them it’s a great privilege to have them around.

You touched on how London is going through a difficult time, how do you think creativity can support the city?

For the last twenty years, London has benefited from a great mix of people from Europe and the rest of the world. People, particularly art students, brought so many innovative ideas and cultures, affecting the melting pot. It’s a great pity to see this disappear but we will have to deal with it, to overcome it and see how London can evolve.

Thinkers, writers, poets, musicians, and artists, sculptors and painters… we all must question and deal and try and make the best of what it is. But you can feel we are lacking that sense of being connected to Europe, the disconnection is feeling stronger than ever.

I think in every difficult situation throughout history we always turn to culture and to artists’ to show the way and to question.

As it becomes increasingly difficult to sustain a full-time career as a creative in London what advice would you give to the next generation of artists?

The advice I would give is to always start, if you have an idea set out and try and see if that idea has bite or potential, the best way to do that is by starting to make it. My advice is to just get into a studio and start making, to test and communicate what you make with people around you, take from them and give back to them. But the most important thing is to start, to set out and to make ideas real in the world.

Daniel Silver, Artist and CLT Ambassador.

Daniel Silver is a London-based artist best known for his figurative sculptures. His practice is deeply influenced by the art of ancient Greece, Modernist sculpture, and Freudian psychoanalytic theory. Silver’s works use concrete, bronze, marble, stone, wood and clay, and often appear as monuments or totems, as if belonging to an archaeological excavation. Like a contemporary Pygmalion, his figures seem to speak of the intimacy of touch and the memories inherited through material. Silver’s sculptures explore and manipulate the human figure, sometimes with brutality, at other times with the utmost sensitivity. An analyst, an archaeologist and an artist, he moves constantly between styles, examining the physical and emotional impact of the body and its representation.