In the exodus that is Innovative Learning Week, I followed the crowd and left Edinburgh on the cheapest flight I could find (which is to Dublin, for 15 quid, if you’re interested). Feeling obliged to learn in some way innovatively, I visited the Hugh Lane Gallery during my stay in the capital. The gallery contains an exact replica of Francis Bacon’s South Ken studio: the space has been recreated just as it was found on his death some 22 years ago. Peering through barred windows into the shadowy and disorderly space, you see Bacon’s last unfinished canvases, newspaper clippings that formed his final sparks of inspiration, and various dried out cans of paint that are littered casually across the floor.
Artist studios give insight into the artist. The accompanying video to the studio installation features Bacon himself talking about his space: “The mess around us is rather like my mind; it may be a good image of what goes on inside me, that’s what it’s like, my life is like that”. The thrown paint, or the heaped and precariously balanced piles of ruined brushes and junk, then might reveal something about what exactly Bacon was trying to get at with his writhing faces and distorted bodies. You might get an idea of the ‘psychology’ behind some of Bacon’s work by looking at his studio – but you also get the feeling you’re intruding into the mind of the artist. The interviewer conducting the accompanying video to the show leans uncomfortably against a radiator while asking Bacon some of the questions. He clearly feels awkward.
So I managed to learn at least something in my own innovative way this week – even if only to be more aware of what my room might say about me: piles of dirty laundry = an interiority held in reserve, or am I just finding excuses for never washing my clothes?