Fine print

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It’s clear from London artist Aida Wilde’s work that she has a great love of animals big and small but a closer look at her latest series Habros reveals darker themes like issues of colonialism, the financial side of art, authenticity and questioning reality.

Glass magazine visited Aida at her home and studio in Hackney Wick. Cosy living quarters filled floor to ceiling with art of all styles and mediums give way to a bright studio space, where she designs and screen prints her fine art prints. When asked if she considers herself more of an artist, designer or a screen printer, her response is “an image maker”, which makes perfect sense as Aida’s work lies somewhere in the intersection of a fine art, design and craftsmanship. There is the ongoing tension between the multiplicity and perceived commercial nature of screen printing and the artistic practice where she must strike a balance.

Originally from Iran, Aida came the UK as a political refugee in the early 1980s. Now in her 30s, she has been honing her craft and expanding her practice through multiple outlets and endeavours. Having owned a shop on Brick Lane in East London, now closed, she made an impact on the local art scene in the surrounding neighbourhood working with many well-known street artists such as Kid Acne. For many years, she has been teaching on the Surface Design course at London College of Communication, her alma mater. She runs the organisation Print is Power, which holds poster design and printing events with local individuals and communities inspiring unique expressions of opinion and creativity. Aida has also most recently been working in jewellery as well, translating her design sensibilities into acrylic pieces. She frequently participates in local markets, fairs and festivals. Her work is represented by Nelly Duff gallery in London.

One of her prints is currently on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London in their protest poster exhibition. Her wry commentary on the recent credit crunch is included in the show A World to Win – Posters of Protest and Revolution  on display until November 2014.

She has a knowing yet humble demeanour. At times, her voice lowers to a whisper as if she is about to share something in confidence with you. This subtlety is a key theme in her latest series titled Habros, which debuted at recent a solo exhibition at B&B Gallery in Sheffield. These vibrant screen prints feature treasures, many local finds from Sheffield, and some which simply do not exist but only in Aida’s imagination, collaged together from found pieces.

The Habros series asks viewers to question objects and the historical, cultural and monetary value placed on them, real and invented. A seemingly ordinary porcelain figurine of a dog that may go unnoticed in a junk shop is transformed when takes on a renewed significance when given name, a grand narrative and its image is artistically rendered in a completely new medium. Victoria and Albert are a pair of Chinese vases, which visually stand out as the three-dimensional objects are flattened to a two-dimensional surface that shows off the intricate bird and flower designs. Decisions … Decisions is an elaborate grandfather clock pieced together from found objects and architectural elements that can be jarring to a suspecting viewer who may question the provenance of a piece that has been stitched together from many parts.

There is more to come. Aida is eager to continue this compelling series, picking up more objects from junk shops, visually interpreting them as a screenprint, and then spinning a fantastical (yet believable) backstory, they would tell if only these prints could talk.

by Lisa Kim

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