“I’ve definitely found that space, where even if the artists are doing quite different work from us, it’s beneficial to have that interaction with them. I think you can learn a lot from artists who have a completely different discipline.”
Jairo Zaluda and Nicola Green are a creative double act collaborating in printmaking, collage, screen printing and installation. Their current work is an extension of their fascination with: alternating mental states as depicted in literature and the arts; the boundary between what is real and imagined; interacting with communities to provide expressive and immersive experiences; the exploration of combining digital, silkscreen, and collage to compliment their ongoing projects. [saatchiart.com/jairoandnicola]
What is your definition of studio space?
Nicola: Oh certainly enough room and at the very very least to be able to stand back a few yards and see a picture of some size.I guess we’d like to be able to do something, like most artists, something larger.
Jairo: Being able to do projects that we can’t do at our own flat. To basically have the facilities that we can actually use that obviously can’t be used elsewhere. I would say that most of the studio spaces are often too small. And many times, they’re not much better than working at home. The main part of having a studio space is to work on projects that we can’t do elsewhere. Yes, obviously, good lights and a building that doesn’t fall down, or basic amenities.
Nicola: Community access is important, or having access to other artists where you can exchange ideas. And ideally if there was some space or some way to have a communal space of any sort. Even if it’s just a conjunction, or a coffee machine and a few chairs, that’s really good. You need the social aspect.
That leads to my next question about collaborative and communal studio spaces. Do you believe that formula can work?
Jairo: I’ve definitely found that space where even if the artists are doing quite different work from us, that it’s beneficial to have that interaction with them. I think you can learn a lot from artists who have a completely different discipline. And I guess we can all learn from each other.
Do you believe that London has an impact on your art?
Nicola: Well, it certainly is a melting pot, absolutely.
Jairo: I guess also, in London, there’s a lot more competition. And also, stating the obvious, there’s a massive influx of artists so we have to I guess become aware. You become aware of other people trying to do the same thing as ourselves.
Would you ever consider moving outside of the city?
Nicola: Certainly, if we have the facilities, but we’d probably need a car. If we have these things, studios and access to a community of artists we would.
Do you think that if you were to move out that your work would be impacted?
Jairo: Possibly yeah, it’s difficult. I mean I love London because of what’s available and basically what it offers. But at the same time that can be a problem. Because I think in London, you’re competing against other artists. Say when it comes down to your own show and you realise it’s on the same day as many other artists doing exactly the same thing. And unless you’re established, how do you convince that many people to keep coming to see your show? But on the other hand, you are open to a wide variety of styles and ideas. So sometimes one contradicts the other.
What do you think the future studio space will look like?
Nicola: Well, at the moment our current studio is shut down. It’s hard to say with the current circumstance. I don’t know it’s quite political and it depends on which organisations open up studio space and how accessible it is.
Jairo: The space we have is very much a printmaker space. In other areas there are other artists doing different work, creating divisions between the different types of artists. What would be ideal is less of a division, where there is more flexibility and more mobility between us all. Because sometimes you have a closed door between the printmakers, there’s a closed door between the fine artists, and a closed door between the sculpture and ceramics.
How do you believe that we can ensure artists remain in London in the future?
Nicola: Well, definitely affordable studios. We had a good enough studio space or shared studio with other printers in Hackney and the rents went up.We had it very well organised for many years and when the rents went up, we all moved. We had no choice and now we’re in the middle of nowhere.
Jairo: I guess it’s just keeping the costs down.
Nicola: And there’s also value- the artists that moved with us, because we’re all a large studio of different print makers, everybody is a self employed person and you’re making it much more difficult for those people and their businesses to do their work and to generate revenue, so some thought needs to go into that I think.
Jairo: Yeah, because most artists we know are either self employed, or they have other part time jobs so they don’t really have that much of the financial backing.
Nicola: Yeah so essentially, the artists in London simply have to be valued really.
Jairo: The main thing that happened with us, amongst other artists, is that we make a place for studios you know, because it is cheap, but then it’s seen as fashionable, and trendy, and then they make it very very expensive. It’s almost as if the very reason that it was attractive is the reason they got rid of it.
Nicola: Yeah, and we know it’s a universal problem that happens all over.
How do you think artists can collaborate and communicate with the developers in London to try to maintain that cultural community?
Nicola: I mean, there’s all sorts of things. Our studio has open access and it has the public in to print seven days a week for not too much money. So there’s always a demand.
Jairo: And there’s lots of community projects from different artists, where it can benefit other people or other members of the public, people with mental health issues, but I guess lots of stuff like that.
Nicola: Yes, we ourselves run workshops.
Jairo: I suppose relating to the development and what the price of the building is if you can do something that relates or something makes a connection. You can make a connection with somebody that may not be an asset, but they may, I can’t think of an example.. But it’s basically finding a connection between the two.
Nicola: And let’s face it, most people, and that includes most working people, want to have more opportunities to be expressive.
Jairo: I guess that creative area often gets overlooked and forgotten. Even down to the small details- it was created by somebody. For example an office block- who designed the office block? Who created the colour scheme? And without that it wouldn’t be the same. So all these aspects are important,
Nicola: And in a greater sense, I feel like that most people who are able to work with their creativity have a bit of a better sense of thinking outside the box. It generally makes for more interesting people. All of that brings freshness I think. So I can certainly see rolling programmes or talks and what have you in those different places.
Jairo: Definitely I think all of those aspects are of importance.