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Inside Stoney Road Press With James Nolan

Stoney Road Press Anne Madden

Combining traditional printing techniques with innovative digital technology, Dublin 3’s Stoney Road Press has been collaborating with some of Ireland’s leading artists since 2001. From it, stems limited edition handmade prints, books, sculptures and tapestries. We caught up with co-founder James Nolan to hear more…

Tell us a little bit about Stoney Road Press? What marks it out from other print studios?
Stoney Road Press was founded by myself and David O’Donoghue fifteen years ago. It’s business is in collaborating with artists to make original artworks on paper, or in three dimensional or book form, that can be produced in a limited edition, so making it available to be enjoyed by the many rather than the few.

We both have backgrounds in the arts, he in galleries and selling, me working with artists and teaching.  This particular, some would say peculiar, relationship seems to have worked. What marks Stoney Road Press out from other studios is that we have chosen to exist in the commercial world, without grants or subvention. This is, contradictory as it might sound, a bid for artistic as well as commercial freedom.

How do you feel print as an art medium is received here in Ireland compared to on the international market?
The main thing you want people to grasp about original prints, is that they are conceived and made by the artist to be printed in limited edition form.  They don’t exist in any other form and they are not reproductions of another work by the artist. Each work is unique and treasured as such.  In Ireland there is still some confusion and suspicion about prints. The print market is a huge part of the international art market, valued as a unique and democratic art form with its own zealous collectors. Rare or collectable prints sell for alarming sums of money.

Dorothy Cross Tear II

Dorothy Cross Tear II

Could you tell us about three of the most memorable projects/artistic collaborations you have worked on to date?
Patrick Scott, who I worked with first when he was in his eighties, for his charm and artistic integrity. He incorporated many of the themes and devices that he had developed over his life as an artist into Meditations, the series of prints he made with us and which involved applying 10,000 sheets of gold afterwards to the printed images.

William Crozier, for his mischievous sense of humour and his visionary sense of colour and way of seeing the world, particularly the landscape of West Cork.  He once asked me if a drawing he had just done looked as if it had been drawn by a child. I knew what was expected of me so I said ‘yes’, to which he replied, “good, I hoped you’d say that”.

Dorothy Cross for her seemingly effortless ability to cross-reference ideas and materials. Her series of prints Tear combined ideas about the sea, loss and abandonment, macro and micro worlds, utilising old and new technologies in their making, as well as being hauntingly beautiful images in themselves.

James Nolan and Richard Gorman

James Nolan and Richard Gorman

Which living Irish artists do you admire most and why?    
Richard Gorman for his singular vision which he has refined and pared down over the years to the simple yet endlessly inventive combinations of shape and colour that seem to grow more powerful every year.

Kathy Prendergast for her ability to create simple and direct images and objects charged with emotional and intellectual significance.  I would also have to mention the late great Basil Blackshaw who had few equals for his sheer ability to move paint around. His talent was to combine both the local and the universal in a style that was utterly his own and yet completely contemporary.

Is Stoney Road open to general public? Any new projects coming up that we should know about?
Nobody has ever been turned away if they appear at the door and we are delighted to show anyone or any group around. We’re passionate about explaining and demonstrating print but it’s probably wise to phone beforehand so that we have time to spend with you when you arrive. After all it’s a workshop, not a museum. At the moment we are working on new projects with Paddy Graham, Blaise Drummond and Donald Teskey.

Stoney Road Press, Stoney Road, Dublin 3. (01) 887 8544; stoneyroadpress.com. Open to the public by appointment.

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