The luxury advent calendars to buy now (before they sell out!)
The luxury advent calendars to buy now (before they sell out!)

Sarah Finnan

These 5 foods help reduce menopause symptoms, says health expert Dr Zoe Williams
These 5 foods help reduce menopause symptoms, says health expert Dr Zoe Williams

IMAGE

Candlelit concerts, dark magic and ghost tours: haunting things to do in Dublin this mid-term break
Candlelit concerts, dark magic and ghost tours: haunting things to do in Dublin this mid-term...

Sarah Finnan

World Menopause Day: The definitive guide to menopause signs, symptoms and solutions
World Menopause Day: The definitive guide to menopause signs, symptoms and solutions

IMAGE

‘Deconstructing stereotypes’: The cult witch movie you need to watch on Halloween
‘Deconstructing stereotypes’: The cult witch movie you need to watch on Halloween

Jennifer McShane

The quilted jacket is the staple to see you through winter
The quilted jacket is the staple to see you through winter

Holly O'Neill

This picturesque Victorian Bray home is on the market for €975,000
This picturesque Victorian Bray home is on the market for €975,000

Megan Burns

Sunday Service: There’s a new free self-care series made by women, for women
Sunday Service: There’s a new free self-care series made by women, for women

Sarah Finnan

‘A botanical paradise with spectacular views’: The hotel you need to visit on your next trip to Cork
‘A botanical paradise with spectacular views’: The hotel you need to visit on your next...

Shayna Sappington

‘I’m an obstetrician who became pregnant with twins via an egg donor. This month they turn 5’
‘I’m an obstetrician who became pregnant with twins via an egg donor. This month they...

Amanda Cassidy

Image / Editorial

Inside Dublin’s hidden print studio


by IMAGE Interiors & Living
15th Feb 2019
Inside Dublin’s hidden print studio

A print studio in Dublin’s Temple Bar, with some black spots in its history, has been a haven for artists for over 30 years. We take a tour.

There’s an old Dublin saying that goes “three times around The Black Church and you meet the devil”. The church eliciting superstition is off Parnell Square and gets its name from the dark Dublin calp limestone used in its construction. The belief was if you walked around the church anticlockwise three times, the devil would appear. It has been desacralised and currently houses offices, but at one point in the early eighties, it was earmarked as a space to be redeveloped for a print studio.

That print studio is now sandwiched in the city’s busiest tourist area, and just one floor up from the cobbled streets below, Black Church Print Studios hums quietly along. With only a heavy cast iron door at street level, and a small slip of paper above the buzzer to sign post it, it mostly goes easily unnoticed, but inside there are over 80 members creating across three floors.

black church print studio
The screenprinting floor on the third floor has views over Temple Bar’s rooftops. Artist Eimhin Farrell on the etching floor working a copper plate.

 

Each floor of the studio caters for a different printing technique, with lithograph and relief printing on the first floor; etching on the second floor and screen-printing and digital printing at the top of the building. David McGinn, print coordinator and technician, walks me through the studios and explains, “Etching is actually the reason the studio formed. The heavy equipment that etching requires meant a need for a space that’s both communal and safe.” Historically, the materials used were quite dangerous and a health hazard. “There used to be a joke about printmakers not needing a pension,” David laughs.

Black Church was established in 1982. When they were getting ready to move into the former church off Parnell Square they, “paid the 26 pounds to get the business name registered, then checked out the building, got the grant from the Arts Council to make it fit for purpose, but found that is was completely riddled with asbestos.” To make it fit for purpose would have decimated their construction budget, so the founding members kept the name and found suitable commercial studios on Ardee Street in Dublin 8. “We moved in with all our equipment and were there until 1990, the big fire of 1990,” says David, when local kids broke into the studio – first to steal the petty cash box and then again to set fire to the place. The fire, aggravated by print materials and solvents, took hold and destroyed the building, the artists’ work, and most of the equipment.

Black Church print studio
Member screens racked and ready to use. Rags drying that are cleaning the stone in preparation for lithography.

 

Black Church decamped to founding member Sara Horgan’s kitchen while they looked for new premises, eventually securing tenancy with the state-owned Temple Bar Properties and McCullough Mulvin Architects were enlisted to create the custom-built studios in the former clothes factory. “It’s a small space but well-designed. You’ll find very few print studios around the world that are purpose built. Most are repurposed industrial spaces,” David says. Former member, Andy Folan, worked closely with the architects to let them know what a print studio’s needs were, from space for a vacuum press to dark rooms, wet rooms, and exposure rooms. The studios reopened in 1992 and have been disaster free since.

Aside from working with over 80 full-time members, who have 24 hour access to the building, Hazel Burke, the general manager, and David run a range of programmes to open up the studios to non-members. There’s an exhibition programme, with two shows a year in the downstairs gallery space, which include members and non-members working in printmaking of course, and other mediums.

Black Church print studio
Dave says the stone and grinder has “chemistry involved and a bit of magic. You work with a specific type of limestone that came from a mine in Austria. The mine has now closed down.” Proofs hanging to dry.

 

Black Church also offer a range of printmaking workshops taught by a teaching panel made up of members; these are varied in their formats but are often open to beginners. Artists who don’t normally work with print can temporarily access the space to work with members to produce works or alternatively, once someone has been initiated through a workshop, they can access the studio for longer periods of time working on their own.

In a nice full circle, one of the architects who worked on the building, Valerie Mulvin was in two years ago making etchings. “For screen-print we always have graphic designers, for etching it’s almost always architects,” says David, From asbestos, to a disastrous fire, Black Church Print Studios have been around the block a few times, but are yet to meet the devil in this clever space. blackchurchprint.ie


In the January/February 2019 issue of Image Interiors & Living magazine we stated that architect and McCullough Mulvin director Valerie Mulvin had retired. This is incorrect. Valerie continues to be a principal component of the award-winning McCullough Mulvin firm and we apologise for the error.

WORDS Emma Dwyer PHOTOGRAPHY Aoife Herrity

Also Read

Inside Dublin’s hidden print studio
EDITORIAL
Trinity Tales: ‘Front Square was her garden, and the city was her playground’

Annie Gatling, now Colleran, knew Trinity College was for her when she saw Front Gate from the top storey of...

By Amanda Cassidy

Inside Dublin’s hidden print studio
EDITORIAL
Mandy Moore climbed an active volcano at dawn… while pumping

Hiking a mountain and breast pumping – now, that’s what we call multitasking at its finest. Mandy Moore enjoyed an...

By Sarah Finnan

Inside Dublin’s hidden print studio
EDITORIAL
8 easy ways to keep your brain healthy that you can do right now

Your brain health is just as important as that of the rest of your body, says psychologist and neuroscientist Dr...

By IMAGE

Inside Dublin’s hidden print studio
EDITORIAL
5 houseplants we guarantee you can keep alive

For those who buy houseplants with the best of intentions and end up killing them, here’s a selection you’ll be...

By Hannah Hillyer

Inside Dublin’s hidden print studio
EDITORIAL
Sarah Harding’s heartbroken mum announces the singer’s death aged just 39

Sarah Harding has died at the age of just 39, her heartbroken mother revealed today. The Girls Aloud star had...

By Amanda Cassidy

Inside Dublin’s hidden print studio
premium EDITORIAL
Business Club members get your complimentary tickets to The IMAGE Business Summit 2021

Don’t miss this year’s IMAGE Business Summit, with an expert line-up, skills masterclasses, keynote addresses and more.Back by popular demand,...

By Shayna Sappington

Inside Dublin’s hidden print studio
EDITORIAL
Attending multiple weddings this year? How to save money as a guest

These days, going to a wedding is the equivalent of going on a short holiday in terms of cost. From...

By Jennifer McShane