Category: This Space of Mine — Published:

Inspired by our current season of exhibitions, we’ve been visiting the studios of artists, designers, choreographers and more to shed light on the environments that inspire creative work. 

Here we speak with Scottish fashion designer, Christopher Kane, who generously welcomed us into his East London studio just before fashion week. We spoke about his multifaceted practice and recent return to painting, and had the pleasure of meeting his trusty studio companion, Bruce the dog!

Go behind-the-scenes with Christopher and book your tickets for A Century of the Artist’s Studio: 1920-2020, offering a glimpse into more than 80 creatives’ studios from around the world. #ThisSpaceOfMine.

Where do you create/make?

I’m currently creating in my studio, which is part of my work in fashion, but I’ve  also done a lot of painting of the past two years since Covid. I studied fine art, but then progressed into doing fashion Masters degree. My studio here is primarily for the fashion business, but I have a little section in a corner in the basement, which is for me; it’s a space where I paint and create and just make freely, not thinking about work. It’s just a passion. It’s a hobby. 

I’ve always worked in East End of London. Dalston, London Fields. And always in a cement block. It’s always very simple and quite clean. I don’t really have light or windows, but it really doesn’t bother me. I just need a little light to create, and of course a table and ample space. 

I do like to be quite independent and work by myself with no one around. But I always have my dog with me called Bruce. He’s all the company I need. I can’t really create with people around because I always feel the pressure of others watching. I think that might be the same for everyone in the industry. 

How has your creative space/studio evolved over time?

I think the Covid period was a huge transition for all of us, because the fashion industry didn’t stop. But it created a different way of working. I suddenly had lots of free time on my hands and it was a really beautiful spring/summer in 2020. So I went into the garden and started painting again – I’m lucky to have a really nice garden and painted to my heart’s content! And from there it progressed into my studio. 

What unusual environments have you used as a studio? 

There have been lots of unusual places where I’ve painted and drawn, but definitely backstage at a fashion show. I’ve been asked to do many things backstage where I need to draw or do a caricature of a model. These are often very stressful situations and you have several people watching, but I can really sketch really anywhere; I’m not that precious. I just think you have to be in the mood or feeling it. That sounds pretty cheesy, but you just need to really feel something to work and be comfortable. 

What are the elements that you require in a space to access your imagination?

I like to listen to a lot of audiobooks and music when I’m working. I tend to pick a lot of historical books; I just listened to the Francis Bacon audiobook, for example, which was really inspiring. I also listened to the Satanic Bible because I’m really into the history of religion. So it can be really quite random. As long as it keeps me intrigued, or helps me lose myself into a different little world. 

The things that I use everyday are primarily paint, colour paper and materials for collaging. There’s a lot of glue and fabric involved, and I’ll usually spend the first 15 minutes to an hour of my day playing around. I also use this app that I have on my iPad for digital painting, which then progresses into the physical object. And then, of course, Bruce [my dog] is always here, he always helps and is part and part and parcel of the work. I also need lots of tea. 

What one object from your studio would you not be able to live without?

I’ve just moved here, so it might take some time to get connected to an object. But Bruce is really my rock. He’s like an emotional aid. When things are going wrong, he’s always here – and I love how carefree he is. He can walk across a painting and then all of a sudden there will be wet paint all over the studio. I’m not precious at all and I’d like it to remain that way.

#ThisSpaceOfMine is inspired by A Century of the Artist’s Studio: 1920-2020, on view until 5 June 2022. From kitchens, to classrooms and trusty nightstand sketchbooks, inspiration can and does strike anywhere. And while rising costs are making provisions for artists more and more difficult to come by, we’re here to make a case for creative space of all shapes and sizes. Click here to access a list of resources and local organisations who provide studio support for artists at all stages of their careers.