Belinda Holden in an independent built environment art consultant who works with architects, interior designers, council departments etc. and acts as an interface between these design and management teams and the print sector to explore the evolving range of graphics possibilities for public locations. The following is her take on the symbiotic relationship that can develop between the creative and print communities.
My introduction to printmaking began in art college when I specialised in printmaking as part of my graphics degree in Leeds. This however was long before digital printing and our idea of large format involved a road roller and 6 x 4 panels! My present incarnation as a built environment arts consultant has now led me back to the world of print, albeit in new forms. I work with large interdisciplinary design teams, often working on landmark public buildings such as schools, hospitals and libraries. Within these, part of my role is to identify at the early stages, opportunities for artists and designers to contribute to the design and spaces being developed. Over time we have sought to embed the artists’ work deeper into the fabric of the building, considering all surfaces, elements, fixtures and fittings of the final building.
When it comes to buildings I, and those I work with, can’t help but ‘think big’ and in terms of using print we have so far commissioned digital glazing, external murals, bespoke wallpaper, bespoke carpet and upholstery and are in the process of exploring printed rainscreen cladding. When once all we could consider was silkscreen, intaglio or litho, where production costs for bespoke projects were beyond the realistic budget, we have through digital printing been able to realise some fantastic work. This has only been possible because we have worked with some great printers to find the right solutions and worked together through the problem solving to realise the outcome.
Consistent issues for us have always been lifecycle, UV integrity, scale and installation; once we can start working through these with the printers we can usually arrive at the solution.
The earliest large-format digital commissions were very straightforward; works on canvas and/or paper mounted onto aluminium. It was by playing with the widths and lengths that allowed us to really fill large atrium and office spaces.