The Lamb Studio still retains much of its historic character and atmosphere – although since being developed as a small museum and gallery in 1977 it has substantially better heating and lighting as well as structural display staging to accommodate the growing collection of Lamb’s pieces.
The building – at 24 Market Street - is simple in character – a three roomed L shape around two sides of a small brick lined courtyard. Lamb was involved in its design and build – and made all the built in furniture in the smaller rooms. As this was supposed to be a working studio most of it is for storage for both his sculpture and drawing, painting and etching materials. There are also free standing pieces and it should be remembered that Lamb created the plinths for his most important pieces to be displayed on.
The “workshop” is a substantial double height space with a concrete floor and large windows to the west. There are double doors to allow easier movement of his larger pieces in and out of the Studio. Note the steel girder crossing the room, this was used with his block and tackle to raise and move his heavier pieces. It is said that the sole heating for the whole building was a free-standing stove placed on the floor in one corner. The Studio did not have a full electricity supply until after Lamb’s death.
In the other arm of the “L” are the stairs and a pair of rooms above each other. Downstairs is Lamb’s “studio” again with concrete floor and large windows to the north. There are built in cupboards along one wall – one set carefully “mouse-proofed”. There is a very crude and heavy bench to which Lamb’s printing press, used for his etchings, was once bolted. There is the original sink with its cold water supply. Off the corner of the room is the small room with Lamb’s toilet, not quite outdoors, but frigid in east coast winters!
Upstairs is Lamb’s “study” – this was a “clean” area with wooden floors and panelled walls and ceiling built, we are told, by Lamb himself. There is a range of built in drawers hidden behind curtains and in the corner a built in wash stand and bowl, with cupboard beneath. Note, too, the long low wooden plinth - that Lamb covered with cushions – and which could become his (unofficial) sleeping place at times. Photos show that Lamb had his drawing board up here and there was – luxury - a rug on the floor.
More significantly this was the Studio’s smarter area used for exhibition and retail – watercolours and etchings for sale would hang on the walls and smaller sculptures could be on show. This is where “politer” customers would be welcomed and served tea from matching china – rather than the downstairs enamel mugs used by closer friends. We are told that among others of the County and London set Lamb received regular summer visits from the Duchess of York (later Queen Elizabeth) and the princesses when they were staying at Glamis Castle.