“I have three chickens, it’s located by the Atomium and my neighbour is the King.” Inside Martin Belou’s studio

With a solo exhibition of his work now showing at Hasselt’s CIAP, contemporary artist Martin Belou discusses the place his studio occupies in his collage-esque body of work, why a circular space makes all the difference and the Pink Floyd video shot on the studio’s rooftop.

Photographer Joke de Wilde (c)

When did you move into your studio, and how did you find it?

I moved into my studio at the end of 2016, after a few months of intense searching. It kind of found me, rather than the other way around.

Why did you choose this space as your studio?

The space, the remote location, and the Pink Floyd video for Paint Box, recorded on the rooftop of the studio, with the Atomium in the background.

How would you describe it? Its history, its composition, its neighbourhood?

Well, to sum it up, I have three chickens, it’s located by the Atomium and my neighbour is the King.

What impact does the space you work in have on your work as an artist? What influences you the most about your studio?

The fact that it’s a circular building. I’ve come to realise that this is mentally optimal. It’s also surrounded by nature – OK, a park, but still – and I have the best studio mates ever.

What is your preferred space within the studio, and why?

I try not to have any favourites lest the others become jealous, and to use them to their fullest advantage. But allez, maybe the kitchen – I love cooking, and it’s the only heated place in winter.

Can you talk us through some of the most important items in your studio? Equipment, personal objects, memorabilia?

Everything in my studio holds some sort of a meaning, even the smallest trinkets. I surround myself with different materials, objects, big or small, and since my process is rather collage-esque, even the most insignificant thing can trigger an idea. Thanks to the spaciousness of the studio, I can display all sorts of things, ranging from personal objects and plants to tests and drafts. I’ve come to realise that being surrounded by all of this really helps me in my working process.

What, to you, does your studio symbolise?

More than a studio, it’s my home: I don’t have an official residence in Brussels anymore, so this is where all my belongings are, where I spend most of my time. Where I go even when I’m not working. It’s my playroom, my temple.

More generally, what role do you think the studio should occupy in an artist’s practice?

I think that really depends on one’s practice. For some, studio practice is not central to their work. For me, as time goes on, I’m finding it becomes increasingly necessary.

Who is the last person to have visited your studio, and why?

My last visitors were Louise Osieka, director of Hasselt’s CIAP and the art historian Dagmar Drix, to prepare the show which is currently on show at CIAP.

Martin Belou’s Objects, Love and Patterns is on display at CIAP until Sunday 26th August.
Besides his current show at Hasselt’s CIAP, he’ll be taking over his home base this summer with a number of shows at Bâtiment Vanderborght, Van Buuren Museum and Maison Pelgrims.