Last month we visited local artist Sam Jayne Simpson at her studio in Blackpool. For May’s edition of Open Studio we head down the coast to meet Andy Ostin in his St. Anne’s studio and to peek at the space he shares with another creative, Leo Smyth.
Behind the main shopping street at the heart of St Annes is a maze of back alleys teeming with activity. Artist studios and antique stores rub shoulders with plant shops and other curiosities behind a row of old Victorian houses.
Off one of these alleyways is a narrow ginnel tucked away from the street view. If you venture down it you will find a locked door that, once opened hides a surprising large, sunlit courtyard. It is here that you are greeted by an abundance of creativity shaping the space.
Outside one of the buildings in the courtyard, two concrete casts from a shop mannequin sit side by side as if in conversation. Behind them, painted on the wall, a mural of brightly coloured sheep cheerfully welcome you. This area, although used by several businesses, is often repurposed as an outside work space for Andy and his studio buddy.
As you walk inside the building you come across Leo’s workspace first. An assortment of musical instruments and electrical equipment are spread across the floor. As you venture further within, you discover Andy’s creative retreat.
Hidden away from the world and his studio partner by several thick curtains, natural light provided by a light corridor floods the room. Andy moved in twelve months ago when the space stood vacant with only a sink and silver coloured insulation covering the ceiling. He has added carpeting to the walls for warmth and moved in an array of old furniture. Everyday objects mixed in within piles of art supplies indicate that Andy is spending as much time here as he can. There is a makeshift kitchen by the door and cooking utensils within reach of his easel.
A few empty cans and a bay tree (fresh leaves are preferable to dry when cooking I am told,) can be spotted near a seating area. He admits to being so busy he barely gets time to go home, sleeping on the sofa after working late into the night.
Today, for my visit, the studio is silent. When he is working he likes to listen to classical music, as loud as he can get away with. His collection of CDs sits next to the CD player behind his prized item, his painting easel.
With work flying out of the studio only a few canvasses in progress can be seen sitting around. The frames, of all shapes and sizes waiting to be fitted with paintings hang above our heads and are a prominent presence within the room. These have been gifted to him from a variety of people and organisations and are a testament to the functionality of the space. Everything here has a purpose, if it is not useful, it must go. Andy comments there is little time for cleaning, this is a place for hard creative work.
He has a few personal projects on the go. This includes a series of works inspired by the location of the studio and some intended for Art Break Hotel in Blackpool, where he is currently the manager.
This space had become more than a studio, over the last few months. With so much going on for Andy in his career he is now transitioning between this space and a second studio at Art Break Hotel. He says he will keep this studio, as it has become a place of sanctuary within his busy life.
For more information about Andy’s work:
Facebook: Andy Ostin’s art
Written by Laura Shevaun Green
Images by Jill Reidy Red Snapper Photography
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