This Blog is about Bob Haberfield’s Studio set up and how it always stayed the same no matter where he lived.
Ever since I was a boy. My fathers work space was always set up in the same way in all the different houses he lived in, and he kept the same desk.
It was a white L shaped desk with one set of drawers. He had an old style pint glass with dimples and a thick handle that he kept his brushes in, the glass was no longer transparent but coated with years of dried out paint water dripped from the brushes as they were but back in the glass after being briefly washed in another glass that he kept water in for that purpose. Then there was a 3rd glass filled with pencils and pens.
Next to the glasses would be a couple of pallets and a water colour set in a black metal box that housed Winsor and Newton water colour pans. Small small white plastic trays about 1cm x 2cm which contained small solid blocks of watercolour paint. It also had a fold out paint pallet and a hole that he could stick his thumb through to hold the set in one hand while he painted. He never used that feature because he painted sitting down at his desk with his work on a table top easel set at about 45 degrees.
Inside the top draw he kept an assortment of colour pencils, drawing pins, erasers, a scalpel, a small tape measure and other small bits and pieces, the second draw down he kept all his tubes of gouache paints. The bottom draw he kept his airbrush kit, some larger brushes and boxes of extra water colour pans and guache tubes. Which ever house he lived in he set up his desk by a window and that was Bob Haberfield’s studio.
The first place he was living in after he returned from Australia where he is from, was a small one bedroom flat in Elgin avenue. It was the first time I became aquantied with the white desk by the window. The desk then followed him up to Manchester where it took up its position by the window on the top floor of a block of flats in a larger room this time. He bought a couple of budgies called Billy and Betty, that flew around the room by day and slept at night in their cage. Occasionally they would drop a small payload onto what ever illustration Bob was working on at the time and he would curse a bit then paint over the offending poo splat.
When ever I visited him he would spend most of his time in the day sat at his desk painting. That is my childhood memory of my Father, sat at that desk as he did almost every week day all day.
He lived in that studio for a couple of years before moving to a larger house in Withington Manchester. Although the house was bigger and nicer Bob Haberfield’s studio wasn’t as nice as the previous one, which was really light and airy and had a nicer atmosphere. His desk took up its usual residence next to the window, but the room was smaller as was the window.
After another couple of years he had earned enough money to buy a house in wales. It was the first time in his life he had owned his own home and lived on his own. It was a small house and at first he set his desk up in the very small front living room, not too long after he built a large extension which was to be his art studio.
For the first time since I had known him he extended his creative space beyond his desk, which still took pride of place by the window, which had a fantastic view over the Conwy valley. But now he had a large wall and floor space for an easel. It was after he built his art studio that he was able to dedicate much more time to his own painting because now he had the space to work on the things he wanted to paint, when he was not working on commercial paintings
He had his computer and music set up along the back wall with a comfortable swivel chair where he could sit and look out the gable end patio doors onto his terrace garden, or out the window beside his art desk that looked out over the valley, or he could swivel all the way around and look at the art wall of his easel.
The wall space behind his desk was filled with photos postcards, newspaper cuttings and anything else of interest he would find, all the wall where covered with his paintings.
He had a plan chest where kept his paper and card of all different sizes. On top of it was a cutting mat for cutting mounting frames.
The window sills and shelves where covered in trinkets and odd things he found that he could see something in them, sometimes he painted a face onto them or arranging them in specific ways. It was a very cosy room and he spent all day everyday in his studio. He had a bird feeding station right outside the window next to his art desk, where he would feed the birds everyday, eventually they got tame enough that he could sit at his desk painting while a matter of inches away on the other side of the glass the birds would come and feed.
He always had music playing. The first thing he would do when he came down stairs in the morning would be to put on some music. In summer he would leave the patio doors open and on occasions a squirrel that he had also been feeding everyday since it was young, would wonder into the studio looking for food. The energy of that studio was so peaceful. I spent many hours in there with him talking, goofing around, drawing. When ever I think of my dad now in my minds eye I always see him in that studio, sitting in his swivel chair, some classical music playing and birds at the window.
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