by James Glazebrook
So tell us: how did you end up in Berlin?
I followed a girl out here. I met somebody in London, and they said they were coming here in a few months’ time, so I ended up quitting my job and coming out here. It felt like the right time to do it… as it happens, she’s back in England and I’m out here! But it worked out really well for me, and I’m glad I made that leap.
And how long have you been here?
About three or four years… I purposefully don’t keep count. I feel slightly embarrassed because I still know so little German, so people always ask me, “how long have you been here for?” and I’ve been saying “a year” for about three years now!
Do you feel settled here?
I definitely feel like it’s my home. I’m very happy here and I think I have more friends than I did in London, and I have a much nicer way of life. I’m working on what I always wanted to work on, which wouldn’t have been possible in London. My best friends are German, so I guess I am quite integrated here.
I don’t speak good German, which does make me feel like a bit of an outsider – but there are so many people passing through Berlin, staying for one or two years, that it’s easy to not speak the language and still feel involved in what’s happening here.
What’s the best thing about living in Berlin?
That I get to do the thing that I always want to, and get to have a studio of my own. When I was about 16, I built a darkroom in my bedroom – I’ve had an obsession with printing in all its forms since a young age. So now to be here, and have a studio – with my own printing press – is just great.
And what are your favourite places in Berlin?
Urban Spree, where my studio is, is developing all the time. It’s an art space, with an “atelier”, sharing vibe, and now a venue for gigs and parties. They asked me to move in here before Urban Spree had opened, and even knocked down a wall for me! I had the first exhibition in the main hall, which was completely trashed – of all these shiny, perfect bicycles hanging in this fucked-up space…
Markthalle Neun on Eisenbahnstraße is fantastic. I had my first studio on that street, right when they re-opened the market. I really liked the community vibe of what Markthalle Neun did, going around the block asking everyone what they should do with the space – it was a community decision. People were proposing different ideas like – someone wanted to open a kind of Victorian swimming pool – and in the end, the consensus was to take it back to its original use: a food market. Any kind of restoration of anything, rather than scrapping it or changing or modernising it… I just love it when things are taken back to their original state.
The Künstlerhaus Bethanien is another building that survived the war. They have the most fantastic print studio there, which so many people don’t know about. Downstairs, it’s almost a museum of old machinery to do with printing, lots of letterpresses and cutting machines, and it just smells so old! You can only get there via one lift in the print studio, which no one knows is there.
…and I go to Tempelhof most Sundays, to either exercise or just cruise around on my bike. I love it out there…