Interview with AiR Ling Chiu


Meet Ling Chiu, she is an Artist from Canada, but now based in London. She is a full time Printmaker, Artist and Educator and has been teaching and working in print for nearly 20 years. She screen prints, does lithography and etching, but loves all the print processes!

How long have you been at AGA LAB and what were your plans for what you wanted to do here?
“So I’ve been here for a month, this is my second residency here. I had a question to ask about vegetable cleaning agents.  AGA LAB works in a non toxic way, so there are no solvents in the studio, and I was curious to see how lithography would work without traditional solvents. The product that they are using is ‘Geo Wash K’ and it’s a vegetable cleaning agent based on vegetable oil. I’m here to see how it would work and if it’s viable to bring back into my own studio, and therefore whether it’s worth bringing back to the UK.”

So what did you discover?
“Like all things in printmaking, the first 20 days were a disaster, I only really cracked it at the end. That’s why it’s really great doing a residency because I can have that intense time to work on it, you know, you live in the studio, you’re here 12-16 hours a day, it’s been great! There’s a steep learning curve when you make that transition away from solvents so I’m really grateful to Arts Council England for giving me a ‘Develop Your Creative Practice’ grant which is how I’m funded to be here right now. It’s really been worth doing because having a solvent free environment means that you can print longer, you can print forever, and you can print with more people!”

How have you been finding the studio environment? Working around some of the other artists?
“I mean it’s great, this is why I’m here for the second time. I was here in 2019 to learn about copper sulphate etching and working with acrylic resist grounds, and I liked it so much that I came back!”

What’s the concept behind your work? I know that you’ve been using pigeons as your main motif, can you give a little insight behind your ideas?
“I have an ongoing body of work about pigeons, and I’m fascinated by them as they are everywhere where there are people. They are all around the world; where there are people there are pigeons and if there are more people, there are more pigeons. They are a real mirror to us, they are trying to do what we’re trying to do, they are trying to live, eat, find a home, have kids, they are doing exactly what we’re doing in all sorts of interesting places. There are lots of lovely parallels between us and pigeons, and there are a lot of darker parallels as well. Pigeons are given a bad rap, but there is no difference between a pigeon and dove in scientific nomenclature; they are from the same family. It is the same as asking what the difference is between an expat, and a migrant, an expat community and a migrant community. Encountering one pigeon is very different to looking at a mass group of pigeons and that’s the same for people as well.”

Have you been inspired by any artists in particular whilst being here?
“What’s great is working with the other AiR’s into the evenings and seeing some interesting parallels; some of other AIRs are also working in CMYK, or comparing nature and nurture.  When things go wrong we’re here to pick each other up, and that’s one of the best things about coming to AGA LAB. At the very end, I worked with Aurélie (@ae_sx) she was printing a cyan layer, and we thought ‘I wonder what that would look like layered with one of my pigeon prints!’ so we just did it! We collaborated on two prints and they look fantastic, so it was a really lovely surprise at the end. It’s always super lovely to see the range of knowledge and experiences at AGA LAB as it is very, very wide, they’ve got Interns, volunteers, they’ve got people who have been here for twenty years, and they’ve got people who’ve been here for twenty minutes and I really love that mix!”

See more of Ling at her Instagram @inked_twice.