Teetering on a wave battered cliff, prone to the ravages of wind, sea and rain, the winner of this week’s AnOther Loves vote is an architectural original; a sculptural form at once anomalous and at home in its surroundings. Created by Saunders Architecture, the Squish Studio was built on the eastern coast of Canada’s Fogo Island in 2011, designed as a haven for artists looking for inspiration in the stunning Newfoundland landscape.
The concept of an artists’ retreat has been around for over a hundred years with the earliest versions cropping up at the turn of the 20th century. Perhaps the most famous is Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York; a 400-acre estate endowed as an artists' sanctuary in 1900, whose past residents include Truman Capote, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, Saul Bellow and Clyfford Still. The notion of gaining inspiration through the company of like-minded creatives is one that continues today, yet many artists and writers prefer to create a secluded corner somewhat closer to home. Writers Roald Dahl and Virginia Woolf used to retire to their garden sheds to work, a practice that stylist Simon Foxton has continued to this day. With the Squish Studio, there is a combination of solitude and a change of scene, with a dramatic edge to the weather that must surely be invigorating to the creative juices. Here, we speak to Neil Wissink, photographer for AnOther’s food column The Hunger, about what made him Love the studio, and where he goes for creative inspiration.
Why did you choose to Love this studio?
I grew up on the east coast of Canada, not far from Newfoundland, and have always loved the little wooden buildings that perch on the Altantic shore. For me the Squish Studio is a perfect evolution of that form into something that I can really appreciate now. It would be more useful to me than a place to store fishing nets.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I tend to find inspiration in ideas: from books, works of art, conversations, wherever those things are happening at an interesting level. A quiet place to filter all of that is necessary though.
If you could go to a retreat, where would you go, how long for and what would you be looking for?
I dream of being able to focus my mind through a process of re-attenuation to the rhythms of the natural world. Somewhere in Canada like Fogo Island, where there is also a vibrant local island culture, or the more remote regions of Scandanavia. Maybe Fäviken because they have the most amazing food. A lot of artist residencies are focused on production, but it's the seemingly fallow period before that that is important to me, the thinking time that leads you back to the point of making, so a good six months would be the ideal!
What's your ideal view?
From the top of a hill that rolls down to the ocean. Light that changes quality. The ocean's invitation to escape to a far away place.
What's your favourite coastline?
It would have to be the East coast of North America, for the fog, the rugged beaches, ghost stories and chowder. I also like being on the west coast of the UK and knowing that home is just the other side of the ocean, like a geological locket cleft by millions of years of continental drift.
What are you looking forward to about autumn?
I am energised by windy, blustery, coastal weather. Not endless drizzle but a proper Sou'wester.
What was the last thing you bought?
The last memorable thing I bought was a very old carved teak door frame that I picked up from an elderly man in Zanzibar, who was flogging a collection of license plates and bits of architectural salvage by the side of the road. I carried it home in my rucksack and now I don't know what to do with it.
Text by Tish Wrigley