For almost as long as I have been on the Studio Tour, Constance Laing has been my guest artist. And for a lot of those years we have been joined by our friend Tracy Walker.
I was normally the site artist, and Constance and Tracy would be my guests, though for a couple of memorable years we exhibited out of Tracy’s garden and summer house .
At the annual meeting for the Tour, there would often be a call to change up guest artists and invite new people to exhibit on the tour with us, I would nod solemnly and agree wholeheartedly – that was a great policy for everybody else, but if Constance and Tracy wanted to be my guests, then they had their spots – but we could swap around that fourth guest spot for sure…
And why this loyalty to the threesome?
We are not just annual studio tour mates, but long time friends, and a team of three – all self-employed artists – who bounce ideas off each other, go on field trips, give advice, provide support and every now and then, we work together on projects.
I often make structures or crates, Constance would do paint or other finishes, Tracy provides design expertise or brilliant photography. Installation of a major project often pulled in ‘the team’, for whoever needed it.
At studio tour time, this teamwork was not quite so cohesive: Tracy and Constance are lovers of symmetry, myself – more asymmetry. Hanging our work together would be an all day affair of trying arrangements and rearrangements, with Tracy arriving early and perfectly organised, and Constance and I still frantically finishing stuff in our studios and putting up work until late in the night of the Friday before the show.
Somehow it all came together, and on Saturday morning my friends would arrive looking gorgeous, Constance with a big basket of apples from a local farm and something lovely for lunch, and Tracy with some fresh baked goodies for our visitors, and all the useful labels I had not gotten around to printing.
The Studio Tour weekends of past years seem to be always golden September days, where we meet new friends and reconnect with favourite visitors. In the lulls between the rushes of people, we chat and look more closely at each other’s new work, talk about new ideas and make plans, or just enjoy being together.
This year, this Spring, Constance Laing passed from us, taken by cancer. Now Tracy and I are part of a trio, missing our third part, missing our good hearted friend, our companion, the one who was always up for anything.
The tour goes on, there will be more sunny September days, and different guest artists to enjoy, but you will be sure to see somewhere in the show, the gleam and glow of a Constance Laing mirror somewhere on a wall, because I can’t imagine the tour without her.