Studio Visit: The Print Studio, Inverlochy House, Wellington

Louise Rutherford shows us around the Print Studio at Inverlochy House in Wellington.

"Unless you turn down the quiet lane, you’d never know it was there.
The city has grown up around Inverlochy House;
a Victorian mansion designed for a prominent local family in the late 1870s.
In the early 20th century, the place was divided into four flats.
Despite plans to knock it down and build a hotel in the 1970’s, the house survived.
It was finally gifted to the city of Wellington for use in the arts
and formally became Inverlochy Art School in December of 1987.

Inverlochy House, Wellington

The different ages and stages of the house have all left their mark on the place;
a bank of old grey school lockers, banged about and decorated with skating stickers
coexists with the elegant curves of the carved Mahogany bannisters.
Biscuit tins and mismatched cups are laid out in the common room
under the chandelier and elaborate ceiling mouldings decorated with scrolls, angels, curlicues and flowers.
More recent walls intersect with original ones; the steep servants’ stairs now lead to the jewellery studio,
instead of to the mansion’s kitchen, or the downstairs flat.

Today, the fourteen rooms and two bathrooms of the 'unrivalled family residence' of the 1800s
is home to a huge range of art classes, including many types of printmaking.
When there are no classes going on, The Print Studio is used by Wellington printmakers
to bring their work into being.
To get to The Print Studio, you make your way down the beautiful tiled hallway and up the grand staircase. The rich red-brown glow of the carved bannisters speaks of long ago elegance
but now the red carpet is scuffed and frayed by 25 years of art students’ feet.

The studio itself is well equipped.
It has two presses for etching and stone lithography, an aquatint box,
wetting down area, enclosed acid baths, hot plate and intaglio and relief tools.
It’s easy to get into the flow here. The high ceilings and white walls are full of prints;
bearing testimony to the many Wellington printmakers who have known and loved this place.

Louise Rutherford is one of the many Wellington printmakers
who knows and loves the Inverlochy House Printmaking Studio.

The Print Studio itself was originally brought to Inverlochy by the painter and printmaker John Drawbridge, and it still seems to keep something of John’s spirit and bold, joyful vision of the world.
Speaking of spirits, the house is reputed to be haunted.
Sometimes, on quiet afternoons, I’ve felt a benign presence in the print studio,
but that could just be because I love it.

In the summer, we drag the dusty windows of The Print Studio open by their heavy wooden frames
and Wellington sunshine streams in.
Inverlochy House is right in the middle of the city, but here it is a little oasis of quiet.
The palms, flaxes and big old trees outside the windows make me feel like I’m in the forest."

To find out more about Louise Rutherford’s work: 
To find out more about Inverlochy House: