Our very own in-house designer Jamie Hearn opened his debut solo exhibition ‘One’ last week at the Lumen URC in London. The show is a collection of silkscreen prints and a collection of work from Jamie’s time as Printmaking Artist in Residence at Central Saint Martins through to his present conceptual sculptures and installations.
It was a 2013 goal of Jamie’s to host his first show, and tell the story of his time teaching and creating. We spoke to Jamie at his gallery opening last week, on his 26th birthday.
How did you get into screenprinting?
During my time studying at CSM, the course offered a number of induction sessions to craft techniques such as Silkscreen printing, bookbinding and etching. Althought I enjoyed them all, I was completely hooked after the silkscreen workshop. The studio immediately became my new home and favourite place to work for the next two years, and it is where I had my residency once I graduated.
What has been your favourite project to date?
Definitely the body of new work for this show. This was the most artistic and purely indulgent work I have created. On leaving my BA, I had thought of numerous ideas I would like to explore without the restriction of a design brief, and the residence gave me over a year to explore these ideas. To explore ideas of colour and colour theory in a purely aesthetic sense had always interested me. Colour is everywhere, it fills our lives and has a strong influence on our moods and feelings.
I had the procedural idea based on a thought I had to 'feel and not think'. As a designer handed a design brief, I often engage the theoretical or logical parts of my brain for solutions. Designers have to justify their decisions and answer to a set problem. You have to explain and give reasoning to how you arrived at a solution. This was something I wanted to remove myself from during my residency. I wanted to engage my subconscious and create much more unpredictably. So I sent a few loose rules, mainly so I did not leave myself too open and end up creating nothing! But the square format of the images and the single consistent starting point for each of the images was one of these rules. This is in part why the show is entitled 'One' as all the images start from the same, simple place but at the end all appear completely different.
How has your work been received so far?
Positively, which has surprised me! None of the work on show had been seen by anyone apart from a few close friends and family, so you always have doubts. At the private view last week it was commented how fresh and upbeat the works were, as a collection and individually, which I am really happy about. But this is interesting as it relates to another of the rules I set myself. I wanted to explore my work without an evaluation of 'taste' within the process. Taste can be dangerous; you can regard it too closely and end up not making anything new for yourself. I was conscious to make a decision regarding the colours I would use in a set series of work but not decide too rigidly how they combined together. I wanted them to spontaneously combine as the works were rotated in series and only be evaluated afterwards.
How long have you been planning this exhibit?
It began last year when I began to feel more comfortable about the idea of showing this work. I made it one of my targets for 2013 to do my own show, but with no other deadline or restriction. I began planning last January with the potential to show around late summer. The main variable I had to find was the space.
I looked at and knew lots of galleries, but had felt it may be interesting to try and find a social space that was a little different and unique. As my work is about colour a place with lots of natural light was key. After much searching, I eventually found the quiet space and the main hall of the Lumen church in Russell Square near Holborn. I went and visited last March and met with the events curator Catherine Packard. I was really impressed by what a great space the church is and the beautiful architecture and I felt a perfect fit with my work and what I wanted to do.
It's also an amazing coincidence is the church is located in the middle of the old and new campus of Central Saint Martins; the Southampton Row building where much of the work was made and where I began my screen printing, and the new King's Cross site where I now teach.
When are you at your most productive?
If I go to the screen print studio, I like to start early as delays in the process of making happen a lot. The studio is often a loud and busy place. So I like to have a plan of my day and what I will do. I am quite meticulous with my tools, I like to have everything organised and tidy. Once in the studio I don't want to waste time as this is time I could be printing. If I can achieve four layers of colour, with all the necessary drying times and screen washing, then this is great as I can leave a set of say 20 to 40 print to dry over night and review the next day.
It is kind of like engaging in two opposite ways of producing. In preparation, everything is organised and strictly worked to a schedule so the screens are prepared correctly. Tools and materials are ready and in place to use. Everything is in its place and ready to access if needed. But once the printing begins, this is where I begin to take risks and allow for creative accident to occur, so this is very much unplanned and I am allowing my senses and feeling to build the picture. These mind sets I interchange through the process of making.
How has your style changed over the years?
More and more I am trying to remove myself from the concept of 'taste' or what I 'like'. Otherwise I fear I could repeat myself or use only the same colour palette. Again it comes back to my idea of 'feeling and not thinking', letting the subconscious be engaged in the process more so spontaneity can occur.
What are you going to be working on next?
I will have some time after the show to review and reflect. I have some upcoming projects in planning to take some of the feeling and techniques within selected prints and see if they can take on a life in other form, more specifically in textiles. I have always loved fashion print and would like to explore my pattern making and some of these techniques in fabric. This has also come from encouraging comments through the show, and these have motivated me to explore it further.
Jamie will be leading a print-making workshop at our Islington flagship store this Sunday 15 September. In the lead up to the masterclass we asked Jamie for some screenprinting starters…
1. What inspiration?
There is so much print and pattern making around use just now. Craft has always been present but has emerged as a fashion of past time that more people are looking to take up and try. This is great as it is such a satisfying activity. It engages you senses and is a very pure and traditional way of creating art.
A great starting place is to make an image on paper with three sections of solid colour where at least two of those areas overlap. The image can be an abstract made from simple shapes, or could include an outline with the inner area filled in. The bolder and thicker the spaces the better. Don't try your first print using something with lines too fine, they may not develop in the screen and be too faint once printed. By making this image, you can then begin thinking about how it would be created in layers. Essentially this is how prints are made, the layering of inks one on top of another to create new colours and textures. If you look around you everyday you will see examples of this overprinting everywhere, on newspapers, shop signs, books, magazines, tube station lettering, the layering of print is around us every where.
2. What technique?
The workshop will have some exercises based around stencil making and making pictures or patterns with positive and negative space. This is a useful technique as you begin to train your eye into what is then printed in ink or a space left on the surface. Understanding how to take your image and reproduce it in printed form takes a little time if a beginner, so this will be explained, as it is a printing fundamental.
3. What product?
Understanding your ink is very important. I personally print in acrylics because being water based they are easiest to clean, keep the screens more functional for longer and have shorter drying times. Printing in oils is good, you can product fantastic results, but be careful to understand the chemicals they contain as this is very important for your health when you need to clean your screens. Exposing screens and photo emulsions will be discussed as these are important to get right, and though not really possible for home printing are good to understand.
Jamie’s exhibition ‘One’ runs until 27 September 2013. For directions to Lumen URC, 88 Taverstock Place and opening times visit Jamie’s website. You can shop all our screen printing products online now.
All images courtesy and copyright of Jamie Hearn. Lead image Ellipsis, 2011, Acrylic on paper. Second image 196 Days, 2011, Acrylic on cotton.