the atelier in 44 Stanley is the printing and framing studio/shop of creative couple, Fiona Pole and Didier Presse. After living in Paris for 13 year, the duo decided to return to Joburg, Fiona’s home, to set up an atelier of their own. The space is open-plan and open to the public, giving passers by a view into the workshop where Didier crafts his custom paper frames and Fiona prints special editions on a 200 year old printing press. The selection of art books and publications is both impressive and inspiring, as are the finely printed artworks (printed on site) that hang on the walls. Fiona very kindly told us a little more about the space and all that goes on there…
Where is your space?
44 Stanley Avenue, Braamfontein Werf
What about the location and space appeals to you?
We did not want to be in a shopping centre. Stanley Avenue is a great outdoor centre with interesting shops and a plethora of places to eat, drink and unwind.
Is there a story behind how you came to occupy the space?
We had been in a studio on the second floor of Stanley Avenue for a few months and Brian Green (one of the centre’s owners) encouraged us to move downstairs into a bigger space and into retail. It was a daunting prospect which has paid off. We had help from Megan from Anatomy with the interior (they can also be found at 44 Stanley)
What’s in the name, ‘the atelier’, and how does this translate into what you do in the space?
The name ‘the atelier’ means studio in French. Didier – the framer is French and I lived in Paris, France for 13 years before returning to SA in 2011.
In what ways does this part of the city inspire you and influence what the space is all about?
The space is pared down and we have kept it simple. The city is always inspiring and obviously the Centre aesthetic is also present with the original industrial fittings and features. We are constantly on the lookout for interesting, beautiful books about JHB.
Which artists’ work have you already printed in the space, who are you busy with, and what’s lined up for the near future?
Terry Kurgan, Chloë Reid, Paul Molete, Jaco van Schalkwyk…. and prints are currently being produced for my February exhibition at AOP Gallery.
What does the atelier comprise of?
We have kept it simple with a small bookshop, the framing studio which is not closed off and the printing press which can be seen in action. The focus is on the frames, the artworks, the books and the activities around them. The Fleury Press is an integral part of the atelier. It comes from the atelier Georges Leblanc in Paris and was a gift from the last owner and master printer of the historic atelier, Pierre Lallier. It was custom built and is over 200 years old.
This historic atelier was founded in 1793 by Jean-Charles Rémond at the heart of the Latin Quarter in Paris’ 5th arrondisement at 15 rue Saint-Jacques. Since the XVth century the Rue Saint-Jacques has been central to French publishing and the edition. In 1880, the atelier was moved to 187 rue Saint-Jacques and remained there until its doors shut in 2009. Throughout the atelier Leblanc’s history it has witnessed some of the most ambitious printing projects undertaken, to name but a few – Napoléon’s Description of Egypt, the floral albums of Redouté, prints, reviews and books by Rodin, Pissarro, Cassatt, Manet, Degas, Munch, Matisse, Villon, De Staël, partnerships with the Chalcographie du Louvre.
What role would you say art books and publications play in the overall art world?
Art books and publications are immensely important not just in the art world but in general.
What informs your selection of publications and items to stock in the space?
We try and stock books which are beautiful, unusual and not found in chain store booksellers. We also try and keep a good selection of books under R250.
Who is welcome in the atelier?
What music is playing?
What will the space never see?
We curate the space carefully and would never sell anything which comprises this.
What exciting things are on the cards for the space in the future?
Printing editions with other artists, book launches, story time for children, various art education projects…