I've never mentioned my dream before. I guess I had it nestled in my heart now for so long and daydream way too much about it. A couple years ago, I was lucky enough to stumble upon Double Elephant printshop while I was working in the South of England. It was the first printshop I had experienced outside of a university setting. I knew exactly at that time of my life that I wanted to commit myself to printmaking. It was the humblest of places I have ever been to in my life. If you know me well, you know that being humble, living humble is an important part of my life. It's a trait I have always admired. Simon and Lynn were the two founders of the shop...the most honest to goodness people I have ever met. I immediatley fell in love with the way they lived. The printshop was nestled in the back alley of a cobbled street. The building was two stories tall and made out of old red brick built by a crippling old man who had eighteen kids. The door was made out of wood, and if you peeked between the cracks real close you could just see the beginnings of a press. Going in through the doors you immediatley get hit by a musty smell, and that old recognisable smell of sweating paper and chemicals, but chemicals of a different sort. The shop happens to be an environmentally friendly printshop where rosin is replaced by acrylic medium, asphaltum is replaced by floor wax, and dirty dutch mordant replaced my ferric chloride. Strange new smells and strange new techniques. What captured me the most about Simon and Lynn was their commitment for reaching the community. This printshop was small and humble, but it spread its energy to other places such as schools, nursing homes, disabled people. This was the answer to all my questions...what good is art??? why do we need it??? am I wasting my time??? No, I am not wasting my time, art matters to people. I still believe that the properties of art come from a mysterious place. Such a dreamer...a silly dreamer. Anyways, this is my goal. I want to open my own printshop (with a little help from a friend(s)?) and give to the community. I often get very frustrated with public school art programs especially in the elementary level. As a kid I was so lucky to have great teachers who encouraged my learning process through creating objects, drawing, and painting. Not a day would go by without me doing something artistic. My little sisters come home with construction papered santa clauses and I just about freak out. I'm also frustrated with talented highschoolers in Oakland who don't even give college a second thought. I'm frustrated with the midwests love affair with Thomas Kincaid, people in old peoples homes with nothing to do, mentally challenged people who never get respect, and coco the gorilla trying her hardest to communicate with us (just kidding on that one). Honestly, I'm young and maybe have a "save the world complex" times one hundred, but I'm bursting with energy that needs to be put to good.
Below is a little bit more about Double Elephant and the website too.
Double Elephant Print Workshop is an open access community based printmaking workshop based in Exeter. We have been established since 1997.
We run courses, promote exhibitions and provide open access to equipment for printmakers. We have resources for screenprint, etching, relief print and other processes. We run courses for special needs groups, in professional development and we outreach to schools and other communities. The workshop is run by Lynn Bailey and Simon Ripley.
You can contact us on 07855 206659
or through our web site www.doubleelephant.org.uk
Double Elephant was supported by ALIAS over three years with business planning, marketing and finance. We were also involved in the pilot scheme for ALIAS.