Dolores mainly draws the wildernesses that can be found in and around London — often liminal spaces such as waste grounds, abandoned parks, motorway verges, unloved front gardens. She is interested in what landscape means to us today, exploring our experience of such as an industrialised nation and how it is distilled through popular media. Influenced by eighteenth and nineteenth-century book and periodical illustration, she finds ways that information is given the authority of knowledge and how knowledge is transposed through memory, nostalgia and archetype.
Dolores did her MA Printmaking degree at Royal College of Art and was made a Royal Etcher shortly after. Her work is held in private and public collections including V&A, Government Art Collection, British Library, Ashmolean Museum, Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal College of Art, as well as in public collections in China, Thailand and Japan.
Dolores has been a keyholder at ELP since 2008, we sat down with her to ask her some questions:
What made you join ELP?
Well, the equipment is fantastic – as good as RCA or anywhere else that I have printed. It is clean and allows me to work on a large scale. But the thing that most drew me the most was working in the supportive environment of other artists. It is such a friendly place with a huge mix of different artists and designers. It is great to share knowledge, skills and ideas.
What is one of your favourite moments with ELP?
Too many! – I love having the variety of Artists in Residence. We get AIRs from all over the world and it is great to be able to work alongside them and learn from them. I love teaching here too – I had a brilliant teacher who inspired me greatly, and if I manage to communicate even a small part of that passion it makes me very happy.
What benefits do ELP members get over Open Access users?
The opportunity to take part in ELP exhibitions and fairs. It is always interesting to see your work in a shared context. And because most of the work is shared amongst volunteers you get hands-on experience of the full planning, organisation and exhibition process. Taking part in fairs has been really good – you get the chance to learn from more experienced keyholders the many different ways to present and sell your work. Opportunities like the annual box set are good too – the first time I took part in the annual box set was one of my first opportunities to complete a big edition. Quite challenging for me at the time, but I learnt a lot about printing and I got to say that my work was held in the print collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as getting a copy of all of the prints to own. Mainly I just enjoy being part of a community – the members can suggest exhibitions or other ideas for us to take part in and there is such a large number of people here, there is nearly always a group that can help to take that initial idea forward.
How often are you found using the facilities and what is your most used process?
My process is almost always etching. I do sometimes try to do other things, but I love the process and it is closely linked to my work conceptually so I am always drawn back to it. I use traditional techniques and equipment that have barely changed for hundreds of years.
How much I am in the studio depends – I can spend up to two months drawing one etching either outside or in my separate studio, but then I will be in quite intensely: proofing, trying different printing, papers, and inks. I know my work is mainly black, but there are many different colours and densities to the blacks that I use, that all make a big difference to the finished piece! Once I am at the proofing and printing stage I work quite intensively – I find it difficult to sleep until I have solved all the issues that I have found in the plate once it is proofed for the first time! It sometimes takes me a couple of weeks of long days in the studio until I am happy with the finished print. I also like the quiet and peacefulness of early mornings (- before anything in the day has had a chance to go wrong!) so quite a few dawn shifts.
How do you think ELP compares to the printmaking institutions and facilities in London and even the UK?
I went to college at RCA which is renowned for its printmaking facilities and ELP definitely compares very well. Our recent expansion has really made a big difference because we now have a dry area where everything is clean. I am a bit of a neat freak so this makes me very happy – I had sweet dreams about it for the first few weeks! This area also means that there is more room to breathe in the printing rooms in the studio now and they are easy to work in and clean up after. It is my favourite studio to print in in the UK. We have a good combination of fantastic equipment and a relaxed and helpful atmosphere. I am often surprised talking to other studios and maker spaces that we seem to be relatively secure, organised and well balanced.
What would you like to see happen with ELP in the future? Think big.
I am working with Maker Mile and Open Workshop London – London is facing some difficult challenges currently with rising rents and changing demographics. It is interesting to see how the various artists, studios and maker spaces in this area are working together to find ways to combat these issues and to create strong communities. Thinking big? World domination! I would be willing to set up a sister organisation somewhere like Tokyo or San Francisco if I was asked!