With the launch of her new book The Lasting One, That Didn’t Last, That Still Lasts on 25th May, we spoke to Ghent-based artist Hannelore Van Dijck (1986) about the importance and impact of her studio on her artistic practice.
Photographer Joke De Wilde (c)
When did you move into your studio, and how did you find it?
I found my studio thanks to Nucleo, an organisation that does an excellent job of seeing up affordable yet high-quality studios in Ghent, which I moved into in January 2016.
Why did you choose this space as your studio?
I was searching for a room, not too big but with plenty of wall space. A quiet room, nothing industrial, and preferably in the city centre. Nevertheless, it still comes down to a matter of energy: it has to be love at first sight. That’s how and why I came to choose this space as my studio, because it felt good. I knew this was the studio I was looking for once I laid my eyes on it, a space where I would happily spend most of my time.
How would you describe it? Its history, its composition, its neighbourhood?
My studio is a rather small room, located inside a beguinage convent founded back in 1235. All of its other rooms have been converted into art studios as well. Mine in particular is located on the ground floor at the back of the house, looking out over an overgrown garden. Not exactly a bright room – but on sunny days the light does fall beautifully, spilling around the whole space over the course of the day. Entering the beguinage in the morning is like stepping into another realm. Cobblestones, no traffic, no Internet.
To you, what makes it special and well- suited for your needs as an artist?
Its location and architectural details – the floor tiles, window frames and wooden window panels are very beautiful. It makes the room easy to fall in love with, but even more, it’s well-suited for me as an artist because it’s peaceful, quiet and isolated. A room for unwavering focus.
My studio is more intimate than my bedroom, almost an extension of my own body. It’s a space for drawing, thinking, dancing, struggling, doubting. I rarely invite people to my studio, it’s where I enjoy my downtime.
What impact does the space you work in have on your work as an artist? What influences you the most about your studio?
My studio is more intimate than my bedroom, almost an extension of my own body. It’s a space for drawing, thinking, dancing, struggling, doubting. I rarely invite people to my studio, it’s where I enjoy my downtime. It’s a space for concentration. That’s the reason why it’s hard to distinguish a specific influence – it’s just crucial and fundamental for my work. It makes working, thinking and a daily practice possible.
What is your preferred space within the studio, and why?
My worktable, a desk I got from my parents when I started secondary school. It has stayed with me ever since.
Can you talk us through some of the most important items in your studio? Equipment, personal objects, memorabilia…?
Many drawing materials, my desk, two chairs, a stool, two lamps, a radio, a sofa, a vacuum cleaner, a ladder, another table, a cooker, a kettle, supplies of tea and coffee. I always try to keep noise (work chaos not included) to a bare minimum and leave my studio as empty as possible, all to be able to focus better on my drawings. I don’t feel the need to make the room cosy or anything – its energy is positive enough just as it is. A precious working space with precious working tools.
What, to you, does your studio symbolise?
The studio is the most personal space possible; witness to some of my best and worst moments. The space that gives rhythm to my daily life. The place to go to after breakfast.
More generally, what role do you think the studio should occupy in an artist’s practice?
I don’t think it’s really a matter of obligation here, since every artist has their own way to work, studio or no studio. But if I were to consider a studio as a private and liberating space, I believe it’s something every human needs. A place to just be and let your thoughts roam.
Who is the last person to have visited your studio, and why?
My neighbour William. He has an adjacent studio in the convent, and we take coffee breaks together from time to time. He came by to continue his work on visually processing a drawing I was making.