I have had several painting spaces that have been favourites in my life, and strangely, the smaller they have been, as long as storage elsewhere of finished and abandoned work was possible, the more productive their potential.
Print spaces are different I think. They are cooling. They are kitted out with hardware. These presses act as intercessors between the conjured ideas and thoughts of an image and how they materialise in the real world. So immediately they are less nebulous and emotionally less airy. They have manufacturing purpose, smell industrially of ink and oil and grease. Have a ducks in a row type staging to them. You can look at a print studio, and like a well laid out pallet, they smack of a form following their function. Things are not like this in my painting studio – it has an illogical chaos much more akin to my befuddled brain. I’m sure I like print because the processes involved straighten out the double folds and murkiness of my emotional response to living in the world.
In this way, print, and print studios are therapy and help me cope with love and loss. Perhaps that’s why, to paraphrase my friend Emma Hill, the curator and galleriest who runs The Eagle Gallery has always said that printmakers are thoroughly decent and kind people. Perhaps it is this aspect of Zen in their creative lives, that means they have a leg up when it comes to filtering and processing the primordial soup of life.
There is another difference. Painting space for me is a private thing. It was always a tough one at art school to be in a semi-partitioned room of other painters, like trying to do one’s business in a station lavatory without much protection from a skimpy cubical! Printing space is collaborative and plural, and the processes involved and the scale of them require many hands and problem-solving brains. And chat. Lots of chat too as an antidote to the aloneness of painting. This is why my print studio is in London. I want to work with and alongside other friends who are artists and writers and students of psychoanalysis who live in or are visiting the big city.