House Lights On … Dominic Garnett

Our first contribution below, is from Dominic Garnett, who in good times comes on Wednesdays to play the piano sometimes bringing his wife Paulina and little daughter Julia.

His lovely website is and there are some great videos on fishing techniques plus a list of his books.

Dominic Garnett

I am primarily a writer by trade, on angling. I have written several books and many words on the topic and I also love photography, especially in our beautiful home county of Devon. However, it is music and art that drew me, and keep drawing me, to Studio 36. My first visit was completely random. I was simply walking into Exeter with my wife and brother. From the notice board to all the quirky  sculptures, we instantly knew that we had to investigate!

Even in the midst of social distancing, none of us can exist in total isolation. In these scary times, it seems more vital than ever to reflect on this. It is so important for all of us to have a community of like (and unlike!) minds and creative friends. This is what Studio 36 means to me. It’s a place where I can be myself and meet people who are also creative and interested in art, music, words and ideas.

To my delight, I also found the studio’s lovely old Steinway piano. It’s always a good sign when you ask the owner of such a piano if you can play and their answer is “yes, please do!” as opposed to “no, gerroff!” Living in a flat, I’d missed having a real piano to play and so it became a weekly thing. In fact, I fell in love with playing again, going from a casual player to practising religiously – and always looking forward to seeing Veronica and friends and playing that fabulous old piano each midweek! I loved playing for Gordon, too, who enjoyed coming to listen and encouraged me to get out and play live again in Exeter, which I did.

You never quite know what new surprises are in store or who you will meet at the gallery. In particular, I like chatting to Veronica and all the artists. I find that in spite of me being in a completely different creative field, there is always such stimulating common ground. In fact, I quickly realised at the Studio just how much I missed being around creative characters and all those who want to make, express and realise new things.

Stephen is another artist I like to chat to – and the parallels are interesting. We’ve had stimulating discussions, for example, on the working process and when, if ever a work is finished. Similarly, with Veronica, we’ve talked about the idea of process as opposed to simply looking at finished work. Is anything truly ever perfect? Is anything ever truly finished, given that even when the paint is dry or the music stops, our reflections on a work evolve? 

At the current time, more than ever, it seems important to reflect that life is never perfect or finished. It is never even that orderly, although we are keen to try and believe we are in control. When a big event comes along, however, you realise that none of us are really in control. Everything is finite and in some sense, chaotic. We can shrink into our shells, or we can be brave enough to embrace this chaos and continue to create and enjoy seeing our visions unfold, as imperfect as these may be.

Dominic Garnett

Next > Mike Bartlett

Share this