December 1, 2008

Janine Davidson / Black Church Print Studio in conversation with Nicola Murphy in December 2008

I have been captivated by the motif of the hot air balloon which is evident in my current work. In 'Ascension I' it’s coupled with collaged pieces of envelopes, mixing the everyday with the idea of escape..”Janine Davidson, December 2008

Brief Introduction: 

Janine Davidson is a member of the Black Church Print Studio, and she and 10 other members are featured in Draíocht's current exhibition 'Inhabit' in the First Floor Gallery. Draíocht and the Black Church Print Studio invited the studio’s members to submit work for an exhibition under the title of ‘Inhabit’. The title ‘Inhabit’ refers to the notion of home, family and belonging, and is of particular significance for this show which will take place during the Christmas period, a time when families and friends come together and spend time in ritual and celebration. The exhibition will comprise a wide range of media, which will showcase the diverse technical vocabulary of printed matter. Black Church Print Studio is one of the leading fine art print studios in Ireland, located in Dublin’s city centre. It was established in 1982 as a non-profit organisation and is grant-aided by the Arts Council and Dublin City Council.Janine was born in Belfast, and she graduated from NCAD in 1997 with a B.A Hons in Fine Art, Printmaking and subsequently with a Higher Diploma in Community Arts in 2003. She has been a Black Church Print Studio member since 2001 and is currently on the Board of Directors. She is also part of the Artists Panel in IMMA 2007/2008. Her work has been exhibited internationally in New York, Sweden, South Africa, France and here in Ireland. Recent Group exhibitions include Iontas, RHA Annual Show and Milestones at the OPW, an exhibition showcasing the work of Black Church members as part of the studios twenty five year celebration programme. In recent years she has participated in residencies in Johannesburg and Nice where she had her first solo show. 

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself, your background, where you're from and where you live?

I was born and bred in Belfast. I moved to Dublin to go to college in 1993. I graduated from NCAD in 1997 with a B.A Hons in Fine Art, Printmaking and completed a Post graduate in Community Arts at NCAD in 2003. I lived in Berlin for a year whilst on Erasmus and have taken part in residencies in Johannesburg and Nice. I am currently living in the Liberties with my partner and our two young kids.

Title: Up Up & Away (2007) / Medium: Etching

Q: When you were small, what did you want to be when you grew up? Were there any clues in your childhood that you would follow an artistic path later?

I always enjoyed art at school, entering competitions, encouraged by my Aunt Annette who worked in illustration and my mum who was very supportive and encouraging. I also had a very pragmatic and dedicated teacher Mrs Bowen to whom I owe a great deal. We used to be given special permission to use the art room on weekends in preparation for our A levels.

Q: How long have you been an artist and why choose an arty profession over a more conventional career, like being an accountant, or working in an office for instance?

I have been making art a long time and exhibiting since 1995 so its kind of second nature at this stage. I have dabbled in office work on occasion and let’s just say accountancy was never my forte.

Title: 2158 (2006) / Medium: Digital Print

Q: Perhaps you also have a conventional day job to supplement your income as an artist and if yes does this interfere with your creativity and focus?

I work in different community contexts which I feel greatly enhances my practice. I just recently finished working with Artsbase at IMMA which was really interesting. I have also been working with the Phibsboro Retirement Association for seven years so as you can imagine we have established a very strong friendship.

Q: When did you create your first print and what was your subject matter?

I made my first print on a school trip to the Ulster Museum working with the artist Terence Gravett. It was a portrait, I still have the original woodblock, somewhere.

Title: Poste Restante (2006) / Medium: Ditigal Print

Q: Has your style changed over the years and what might have influenced this change if yes?

I think your style changes all the time perhaps becoming a bit more finely tuned as you develop your practice taking on board what is going on around you and where you are at.

Q: Have you ever tried other art forms like photography, sculpting, making music, or dancing for instance?

I use a lot of photographic imagery in my work so I have always worked with photography. I have made video and installation pieces and more recently made paper constructions for the Jeco Sword Show. I love experimenting with different media and wouldn’t like to limit myself to just printmaking. It depends really, different ideas lend themselves to different forms, so I just go with it. I’ve never really been any good at music but I have always enjoyed a good dance.

Title: Ascension (2008) / Exhibition: Trapezium / Medium: Paper & Alluminium

Q: Tell us more about Jeco Sword?

Jeco Sword is a Dublin based artists collective consisting of myself, Clodagh Emoe, Orla Whelan and Sinead O’Reilly. We as a group of friends engage in a variety of different networks and activities and then intermittently return to each other to relate and share our broadening and contrasting experiences. The group’s diverse disciplines, which include, drawing, painting, print and installation, creates a compilation that works both independently and collectively. Our second exhibition was called 'Trapezium', which is a constellation of four stars that together form a unique relationship. This was an exhibition of new work which functioned as an exchange of ideas and revealed the investigative nature of our project. By assembling the wide range of art practices in one space this inventive exhibition explored notions of inter-connectivity and resonance. The show comprised of a large fragmented drawing by Sinead O’Reilly. My work featured an installation of miniature hot-air balloons (see above). Orla Whelan presented new large paintings and Clodagh Emoe produced a floor piece to facilitate gatherings and transitory exercises.

Q: What other artists or people have influenced or inspired you, and in what ways?

I am a big fan of William Kentridge, a South African Artist, whose work I became familiar with while on a residency in Johannesburg. I also have an amazing group of friends from college who are all very successful and inspiring artists.

Q: How do you keep motivated if you're having a bad day?

I hang out with my kids which brings everything into perspective.

Q: How do you juggle being a mother and an artist?

By doing just that, constantly juggling - the more you practice the easier it gets.

Q: How have you handled the business side of being an artist, promoting yourself and getting exposure, selling your work etc?

I probably haven’t handled it as well as I could have but I am definitely working on that side of things, picking up tips from fellow artists on the way.

Title: Ascension I (2008) / Exhibition: Inhabit, at Draíocht (2008/2009) / Medium: Drypoint, Chine Collé

Q: Could you tell us a little more about your work 'Ascension I', as featured in Draíocht's current exhibition 'Inhabit', featuring work by you and other members of the Black Church Print Studio?

'Ascension I' , is part of an ongoing body of work that aims to explore the habitual, the everyday routine and our subsequent attempt to break from these grounding elements. It is informed by a piece ' The Ascension' an installation which was exhibited at the Lab in June 2008 as part of the Trapezium show by Jeco Sword. I have been captivated by the motif of the hot air balloon which is evident in my current work. In 'Ascension I' it’s coupled with collaged pieces of envelopes, mixing the everyday with the idea of escape.

Q: Can you tell us some more about the Black Church Print Studio? How long have you been a member?

The Black Church Print Studio, in Temple bar, provides printmaking facilities for an increasing number of members and non member artists. Artists have access to etching, screenprint, lithography, relief presses and multimedia equipment. I have been a member since 2001 and am currently on the Board of Directors. Last year the studio celebrated its 25th anniversary which incorporated many new initiatives both within the studio and collaboratively with other spaces like The Lab, we are actively working to continue and develop such projects.

Title: The Victoria (2001) / Medium: Mangle Paper and Wood

Q: What other exhibitions are coming up for you in the future?

I am developing my current body of work with a view to having a solo exhibition.

Q: Do you have any advice you could give to an artist just starting out?

Travel wide and take note. Peer critique is invaluable.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In a purpose built studio in Kilkenny, growing my own vegetables and enjoying the good life.

Q: What are your interests and hobbies outside of the art world?

I love second hand shops, lots of hidden treasures and yoga when I get the chance.


Title: Tempes I (1996) / Medium: Chine Collé

Title: Tempes II (1996) / Medium: Chine Collé


The Hunt for Red Riding Hood
The origin of Folklore was an oral tradition- tales were passed on over the generations, stories told at bedtime, fireside gatherings, evening family entertainment for young and old. As with oral tradition many versions evolved and survived but none more popular than those that were recorded by the brothers Grimm. Originally recorded under the title 'Children's Stories and Household Tales' nearly two centuries ago, but now more commonly known as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, they continue to inhabit the imagination of young children today. The following illustration takes its inspiration from the tale 'Little Red Riding Hood', but its roots lie in other more macabre versions of the past when the wild and predatory wolf, and a growing hysteria over the existence the werewolf created a more frightening fantasy. Here the blood thirsty wolf hunts down Red Riding Hood and her Grandmother.

I can see your house from here
The prints are based on photographs taken this year of windows in Dublin. What people choose to present in their windows or how they use their window space can provide the passer-by with material on which to base a variety of judgments, suppositions and imaginings regarding the lives of the building.

Day Sleeper
A Minor Place

Colin Martin’s Practice cross-references the traditional genres of European painting with theatrical and lens based narrative to create a staged familiar reality. Martin’s practice marshall the viewer into conventional collective spaces and once there the viewer must navigate their own narrative path.
The stating point for Martin’s current practice is Robert Venturi’s assertion that the vernacular architectural environments of the leisure industry have eclipsed High Modernism’s pursuit of utopian Ideals in the provision of a space that provides it’s inhabitants with what they want as opposed to what they need. It is this non-hierarchal and anti- judgmental space that provides an exposition for a narrative that has yet to unfold.

Cloud Chair
Her new work is rooted in the experience of looking; subjects are drawn from the artist’s response to her immediate environment. The experience of looking is not only based on what you see with your eyes which gives you the sensation of something, but also how your history, experience and emotions process what you are looking at.
Her work not only creates suggestions of places and things, but evokes sensations and sense of experience. Her iconography originates from the everyday, with imagery often based on a fleeting visual memory. The work refers to an eclectic gathering of daily and sometimes random things seen.

Tide Marks I
Tide Marks III
This work evolved from an interest in drawing attention to everyday domestic objects, spaces and surfaces. These etchings form part of a body of work titled ‘Found Drawings’. The imagery is developed from observations of stains, cobwebs, and pencil marks exposed on the walls of a house during demolition. The prints are built up in layers using several plates. The medium of etching is used to record the memory of a place or surface.

This series of prints takes inspiration from my preoccupation with my family’s history and the farm we have inhabited over three generations. A collection of old family photographs from my father’s childhood pervades the work, depicting memories of times gone by. Through the work I have reconstructed memories using those photographs coupled with my own personal experiences and reflections of my childhood. The colours and textures used, provide for the viewer clues to content and interpretation; the eggshell blue in Roots is symbolic of the colour typically found in farmhouse kitchens, while the lace patterning in Hayday is reminiscent of net curtains, a common feature on every window. The process of printmaking lends itself beautifully to the idea of reconstructing this story. I build the imagery up in layers, using various plates and components. Each component has its owm specific relevance within the story. The result is a commemoration to and a remembrance of the past, while also highlighting the importance of keeping alive the memories which inhabit our thoughts.

Ascension I
“Ascension I”, is part of an ongoing body of work that aims to explore the habitual, the everyday routine and our subsequent attempt to break from these grounding elements. The existential nature of this piece is expressed not solely in the work but more importantly in the envelopes used to construct it, envelopes which have been used in communications between friends and family a system that is becoming more and more obsolete.

The work is about the remembrance of Jesus Christ and how the commercial aspect of life has taken over this time of remembrance.

Bomber & Stairwell
The current work is concerned thematically with the spaces we occupy both real and remembered. From the physical architectural space that surrounds us but often gets overlooked to the imagined emotional spaces that colour our perception of those same more tangible realities. The printmaking techniques I am exploring also involve a juxtaposition of traditional methods, drypoint, etching and screenprint with the more experimental means of photo intaglio and digital imaging.

Physical, Emotional and Spiritual
Piia Rossi is an artist originally from Finland, where she obtained a diploma in jewellery making in 1989. In 1992 she moved to Dublin to study in the NCAD from where she obtained a BA in printmaking in 1996 and M.Litt. in Education in 2007. Rossi is interested in issues of everyday life around her that she identifies as “normality”. He imagery often derives from home environment, as well as from the wider community setting. Rossi’s art communicates issues such as belonging, identity and nationality, she is interested in our desire for a personal territory. Her work frequently addresses the subject matter of ‘home’ and she combines her delicate drawings to portray her subject matter with varying sized installations.
Rossi’s chosen techniques are drawing and printmaking although her work often takes a 3D form. She is mostly interested in fine line drawing using any medium that suits the particular piece; pencil, ink, colouring pencils, marker, pen, and various printmaking techniques.
Rossi’s work has also gradually developed into participatory projects where she combines her experience in running educational workshops with her studio practice. The theme of home is transferred to the ‘Home-Sweet-Home’ participatory installation which will take place in the Signal Art Centre, Bray in May 2009. Also 2009 Rossi will be exhibiting a large-scale participatory installation at the South Tipparary Art Centre. Her continually running participatory installation piece ‘Wandermäler’ was performed in the Killruddery Art Festival, Bray, June 2008. During 2008-09 Rossi is running pilot performances to further develop her project ‘There is no place like Home’; this project is supported by the Arts Council New Work Development Award. Her latest participatory exhibition ‘No Man’s Land’ took place at the Original Print Gallery October 2008.

Home Sweet Home
Is Anyone there?
We all inhabit a home of some kind. When seen in the context of one’s own familiar town and neighbourhood home is a comfortable, even cosy concept. However, when seen in the context of the vastness of the universe it seems a small and lonely place.
This is the feeling I have tried to convey in these prints.

For further information about Artist Janine Davidson, or any artists from the Black Church Print Studio, please contact:
Black Church Print Studio,

Or contact Janine directly by email:

For media information about Draíocht please contact:
Nicola Murphy, Marketing Press & PR Manager, Draíocht
Tel: 01-8098021 or email


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