TRANSLATED BY 撰文 x BOWEN LI 李博文
IMAGE COURTESY BY 圖片提供 x BEN JOHNSON 本·約翰遜
Ben Johnson plays, instead of chess as one might guess, ping-pong in his studio. Though he admits that it is sometimes difficult to work with others around, the well-established British painter uses his studio as a friendly environment and welcomes interested visitors from all walks of life – he even thought about putting holes in the wall so that passersby can stop and take a look at his paintings. To Johnson, who is at once beautifully clam and most passionate, life very much identifies with work, and studio is a space that resembles a silent chapel or monk’s cell, a crowded, friendly workshop, the second home and “the place where the war cabinet decides on the next battle.”
ART.ZIP: In China at the moment artists have very big studios but the space is not really relevant to their work, for example, some painters have three hundred or five hundred square meter studios.How do you treat your space and what is the relationship between your works and your life and your studio?
BJ: I think it is more about how the European artist works. Mostly English artists cope with the studio differently. You mentioned that artists in China have massive studios but they don’t really produce big work, but here we have, well this is a big space, but if you compare it to other artists who work in the UK they usually have quite small studios. Some artists live in their studios whilst some artists come and work and then go home. There was a big book published a few years ago just interviewing artists and showing their studios. I have about four people a year approach me to say they are doing a book on artists’ studios. One of the most interesting ones was when I was approached by a seventeen year old. He first came a year ago and he was still at school but he had photographed three major studios, I don’t know how.
ART.ZIP: It’s Josh Wright – he is our guest editor.
ART.ZIP: 那是喬希·萊特（Josh Wright），我們的特約編輯。
BJ: Ah – well he is amazing. He visited me quite near the beginning. I then introduced him to Paul Huxley and Paul, being Treasurer of the Royal Academy, was able to write a letter and say please take him seriously. He’s an amazing character.
BJ: 對，他真是一個有趣的人物。他最初找到了我，我又把他介紹給了保羅·赫胥黎（Paul Huxley）。作為皇家美術學會（Royal Academy of Arts）的財務主管，保羅為他寫了一封介紹信。他是一個有趣的人。
ART.ZIP: His photographs will be published in the magazine and he has helped with this issue. So it’s a network!
BJ: Yes, that is how life has to be. If somebody said to me, get out of this studio, I would have to say I need a month’s notice. I have a basement downstairs full of things, which can become a burden instead of being liberating – it depends. Artists such as Michael Craig Martin are also interesting because he had a fire in one of his studios and I think nearly all his works were destroyed, years ago. He said it was very liberating, because all of a sudden he hadn’t got a past. He no longer had to base things on the last painting because the last painting was gone.
BJ: 是的。如果有甚麼人對我說，請離開這個工作室，我會回答：“請提前一個月通知我。”這個工作室的地下室里堆滿了雜物，而那些雜物可能是負擔，而不是解脫。邁克爾·克雷格·馬丁（Michael Craig Martin）是一個有趣的例子：在許多年前，他的工作室失火，幾乎所有作品都被毀了。他說那是一個解脫，因為這突如其來的事件讓他沒有了過去。他不再需要以過往的作品為基礎進行創作，因為過往的作品已經消失了。