Creativity, collaboration and artistic freedom are alive, well and thriving at Wimbledon Art Studios. Established in 1992, this bespoke studio complex houses and provides affordable spaces for over 290 artists, makers and designers. In this second in a series of three features, former Wimbledon Art Studios resident Christine Taylor talks to painter and screen printer Jane Bain about why this community is important to her and about her evolving work.
Christine: Tell us about yourself
Jane: I’m a London-based painter and printmaker who loves bold graphic images which are often inspired by nature but this year I’m drawing inspiration from all over the place. Born in Chelsea, I studied art and design at Wimbledon School of Art and the London College of Printing and lived in Singapore and Hong Kong for a while, where I also studied Chinese calligraphy. I use a variety of screen-printing techniques including ‘variable mono screen prints’, which basically means I produce a number of prints that are similar – from the same series – but no two are the same, making each print unique.
Christine: Just explain to us how the Studios work
Jane: The studios is a charitable institution and so therefore we all pay a membership fee as well as our rent and because we’re a charitable institution, by law, we have to have a committee which is the liaison between the owner, the office and ourselves. The office runs the day to day affairs of the Studios and the emphasis is on selling the studios and promoting the show. The average artist doesn’t really want to be involved but there do have to be some ‘grown ups’ who have to sort out the nitty gritty like the heating in the kitchen and that sort of thing. There are two sides to the studios and with so many people here it can only work if the two sides pull together. The community also has various events that go on, for instance, Purple Thursday which happens every month where we go to the pub to enjoy each other’s company – it’s a very good way at becoming part of something, part of a community. I have the space to be at home but with a self- employed husband working mainly from home it’d drive me mad, here I can just leave everything and close the door without having to worry about putting everything away and have my fellow artists to speak to and share ideas with.
Christine: Your work has changed quite fundamentally hasn’t it in the last few years?
Jane: I was a painter of pears and lemons on boxes, on canvas, I just painted but then I was given a screen-printing class for my birthday and basically, I haven’t looked back since. I did an internship to learn everything as opposed to going to college because I am very much an experimental screen printer, I do a lot of mono printing and now I teach screen printing – I do courses in here – paper and fabric and I don’t just to pears anymore! Each month I have a calendar I send out to various people – it’s like a magazine subscription and every month they get a new print. It’s a calendar so you get something useful as well as a print to keep.
Christine: Actually, looking at this year’s calendar, can you explain the willow pattern for February
Jane: Chinese New Year usually falls in February and that’s why there’s a pig in the Chinese inspired Willow pattern. So, let me tell you a story. Once upon a time there was a king in China and he had a beautiful daughter who fell in love with her father’s secretary but because he was a mere lowly secretary, he wasn’t considered a worthy enough husband. So, the father organised a marriage between a rich nobleman and his daughter. The night of the blossom of the willow tree was to be their wedding but the secretary came in at the last minute and the beautiful daughter and he eloped. The king woke up and chased after them with a whip, but they escaped and went and lived on an island for many years, but the wealthy nobleman found out where they lived and sent his army to kill them. However, the gods heard of their plight and their love for each other and so turned them into love birds. The father was remorseful on hearing the story and he became a weeping willow, forever crying. That’s what you can see in the pattern, the whole story. And ironically the Willow Pattern story was created by an 18th Century English potter to sell pots!
Christine: What a great story, and explain the fish on newspaper to us
Jane: Today’s news (is tomorrows fish paper) – it’s my only political piece in the world! Originally the fish is an image I’d designed for my greetings cards and I combined it them a French newspaper which had that political nightmare Brexit as a headline – well it just had to be done. I’m now on the look out for a newspaper headline for my current fish print.
This year is an eclectic year because I’m drawing inspiration from all over the place and therefore in my calendar so you’ll be seeing eclectic things coming through – like an art deco water bottle for January, Chinese bowl for February, Seed packet for March – that sort of thing. The hand drawn element of pen and ink, seeing how fine a line I can get, getting the newspaper element printed in its an experiment of ideas and shapes . Everything is hand drawn, I don’t do anything digitally. I’ve never used Photoshop and don’t really know how to! I also print fabrics for cushions and lampshades, so more of a commercial element. They’re a big part of my life but I have to see what else I’m doing to fit them in. I always do range of cards because the idea that’s behind the subscription calendar in the first place was to give me prints for cards – so the daffodil that was last year’s March became a card and so it’s a good way of keeping the card supplies going and new and fresh all the time.
Christine: I hear you have a secret future plan…
Jane: I have a secret plan that’s not much of a secret any more. My goal is to have a shop cum gallery which sells mine and other people’s prints with a workshop and printing studio behind – with a café. There would be a glass partition and you’d be able to see a workshop going on in the background where I would have artist’s studios for screen printing as well. It might never happen, but I have a dream. We all want somewhere where we can sell our work and also do things together.
You get the impression that Jane will never stop what she’s doing, especially being a part of this unique community, which is clearly enormously enjoyable. “I don’t believe in retirement – you keep on carrying on. Just keep going, that’s my employ.”
Forget magazine subscriptions, buy a years’ worth of unique prints in the form of a calendar. Once a month subscribers receive an A4 print by post. Also available are individual months to send to celebrate a special date, such as a birthday, anniversary or a wedding.
Original hand printed greetings cards. Small batches of 50 produced. New designs added all the time. The cards image is wrapped around the whole card. Once a card has sold – a best seller – a similar – but not the same will be designed and printed in its stead.
A range of cushions and lampshade, using geometric patterns, illustrations and stars all hand made by Jane.
Jane runs tailor- made screen -printing workshops of adults and children, whether it’s for cards, cushions, prints or invitations. She also teaches art to individuals or small groups (up to 3 people). Art classes cover a range of skills and all ages are welcome.