Q&A with Winsome Jobling

In order of appearance: Winsome Jobling, Lunar globe – res communis, 2009, drypoint on handmade paper from recycled mooring rope of Manila hemp using a taser-cut shaped deckle, 70 x 171 cm; Watermark Moon, 2011, handmade pigmented paper from cotton and abaca with stencil and watermarks, 55.3 x 20.3 cm.

‘Paper is a ubiquitous material, a carrier of world history, stories and economy – we take it for granted and the computer age hasn’t dented its production. My print works begin with the focus idea and then making the paper substrate – the material adds to the story.’ 

Winsome Jobling lives in Darwin, NT.

This is a busy time for you with your recent exhibition Ground at Nomad Art and your current survey the nature of paper at the Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory (MAGNT). Can you tell us more about these exhibitions and the process of putting them together?

I have had an exhibition at Nomad Art annually for the past seven years. This year’s exhibition focused on the surface of the earth, the ground as soil, the substrate for plant growth, and life on the planet. Imagery of plant root structures mimic the branching structure of plants above the ground, the bifurcation of river systems form the source to the sea, and the pathways of the blood via veins and arteries in our bodies. Family trees follow the same branching patterns and link us to our beginnings. The tree of life. Throughout the development of this body of work the handmade paper ‘ground’ became more suggestive and experimental. The papermaking ‘set the scene’ for the print plate vocabulary. For me, the ground for my prints is the most important part of the work.

Winsome Jobling: the nature of paper is a major survey exhibition at MAGNT that covers twenty-six years of my practiceThe exhibition took over a year in development and is also testament to the inspiration of Director Marcus Schutenko, as well as Exhibitions Manager Wendy Wood, curator Angus Cameron and the Museum team who put this exhibition together. There are sixty works in the exhibition: prints, sculptures, drawings and installations as well as a 100-page catalogue. I am still bemused but thrilled by the attention!

How did you start as an artist?

As a kid my sister and I had an Art Club on Saturdays – just us two! I did bits of courses in industrial and graphic design and advertising and then went to art school where I majored in painting and fibre arts. Then I went to Darwin and a whole new world, learning from people whose knowledge stretches back over 40,000 years, whose links to the land and the natural world transcend the physical realm. This experience has combined with and underpins my work. If I don’t make art then my world is not right.

What is it about paper that attracts you?

Paper is a ubiquitous material, a carrier of world history, stories and economy – we take it for granted and the computer age hasn’t dented its production. My print works begin with the focus idea and then making the paper substrate – the material adds to the story. I was inspired by the power of paper when handed a piece of paper by John Risseeuw at a conference. It was a petition to the US government demanding the end to land mines – at the bottom it said ‘this paper made from the pulped clothes of land mine victims’ – I dropped it.

In my own work, for example, I have used hemp mooring rope to make the paper for Lunar Globe – res communis (2009) which alludes to major explorations in the past to plunder new world discoveries and the proposed mineral exploration on the moon.

The possibilities of the final sheet are endless: each plant fibre lends intrinsic qualities, pigments and images can be embedded in the sheet forming process and watermarks that can be hidden or exposed.

Do you have particular rituals or routines that contribute to your creative process?

The seasons have become a routine when making paper. Simplistically according to white fellas we have only two seasons in the top end but age old Indigenous knowledge recognises the nuances of six seasons. I collect fibre plants over the wet season when plants are verdant and supple with sap making them easier to harvest and prepare. I often rinse the fibre in monsoon rainwater under the downpipe after cooking.

What do you hope people will get from the experience of viewing your work?

I hope people make links between the material and the image to extrapolate the bigger picture of the interconnectedness of all things.

What is next for you?

I am making two bodies of work: one more print-based looking at the local and iconic sand palm Livistona humilis, the other larger and more experimental works are continuing to focus on the ‘chatter’ or vibrations in the negative spaces between everything around us as well as the recently discovered gravitational waves that distort spacetime. Past, present and future all at once.

Q&A with Marguerite Brown, the PCA’s new General Manager

‘For me, handling prints directly and liaising with the people that created them allowed me to engage with art in a real world, professional context as opposed to the purely academic environment that my university offered. From that point I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the field.’ 

How did you get interested in working with prints?

I was first introduced to the history and evolution of printmaking through my studies in art history at the University of Melbourne. However, I became totally fascinated by prints when I took up a position at Port Jackson Press Australia over twelve years ago. Here I had the pleasure of regularly working with a number of artists, who were always so generous in explaining both their technical approaches and the ideas that fuelled their printmaking practice. It was an excellent practical introduction to working with prints as physical objects from both a curatorial and administrative perspective, and I was struck by the seemingly endless ways artists would innovate within the constraints of their chosen medium to create original images. For me, handling prints directly and liaising with the people that created them allowed me to engage with art in a real world, professional context as opposed to the purely academic environment that my university offered. From that point I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the field.

Can you tell us about some of your professional highlights?

One of the most rewarding projects I have been involved with was an exhibition of prints by a group of Indigenous artists from the Injalak Arts and Crafts Association in Gunbalanya, Arnhem Land, in 2006. Artists such as Graham Badari, Wilfred Nawirridj and Bardayal ‘Lofty’ Nadjamerrek AO collaborated with Melbourne based printmaker Andrew Sinclair to realise a series of large format etchings, each bled to the edge of the sheet. These prints directly responded to the densely layered rock art found within sandstone escarpments of Injalak Hill, as artists painted with sugar-lift upon steel plates in situ at this ancient site of immense cultural importance. This exhibition was my first real curatorial project and the power and spirit bound up in those prints make it one of my most memorable.

More recently I was awarded the Harold Wright Scholarship to undertake a seven-month scholarship in the Prints and Drawings Department of the British Museum in 2014. This fantastic opportunity enabled me to carry out wide ranging research within the BM’s vast collection of historical and contemporary graphic art. Handling some of the many treasures within the collection, precious works by old masters and beyond, is one of the most professionally enriching experiences I have had to date, and will undoubtedly inform my future work in the field.

How would you describe printmaking in Australia and how do you think it compares with what is happening internationally?

During my time in London I found myself thinking a lot about contemporary printmaking in Australia and the depth, richness and diversity that characterise it. As a field there seems to me such a high calibre of artists, particularly in the middle of their careers, who are regularly producing and exhibiting work of an excellent standard, supported by a reasonably healthy market for such works. In London I assumed I would find a similar situation and was surprised when this was not so readily apparent. While there is a thriving print scene in Britain with a number of fantastic print studios and access facilities in London alone (and clearly many makers using them) I found as a whole, with a couple of notable exceptions such as Alan Cristea Gallery and Paragon Press, contemporary prints that weren’t made by internationally renowned artists did not receive much wall space in the commercial galleries of the capital. Having experienced first hand how important a healthy market for prints made by mid and early career artists is to supporting the ongoing production of their work, it made me consider how lucky we are in Australia to have the vibrant network of studios, galleries, collectors and, of course, practitioners that we do.

What are some of your favourite artworks?

A difficult one to answer but I think near the top of my list are prints by Hercules Segers  (c. 1589–c. 1638), a Dutch master whose innovative experimentations with sugar-lift etching processes and printing with colour were completely novel for the first half of the seventeenth century, and resulted in some truly remarkable images. I believe Rembrandt collected his works. I came across his prints during my scholarship at the British Museum, where I also became intrigued by an irrational and unsettling series known as the Scherzi di Fantasia by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696 – 1770). These strange etchings are filled with ritualistic and occult overtones and defy interpretation even after centuries of print scholarship since their creation. In the contemporary spectrum there are so many talented Australian and international artists making excellent work that my list of favourites is very long – but given my personal penchant toward romantic imagery, the brooding sensibilities expressed by Rick Amor and Sophia Szilagyi are hard to go past.

What is your vision for the PCA?

I am very excited to be joining the PCA in this its fiftieth Anniversary year – a pivotal time in the organisation’s history as we look to the next fifty years. From the Print Council’s formation at the NGV by iconic figures in Australian art history including Ursula Hoff, Grahame King and Udo Sellbach, to our present moment as an organisation whose strengths include a passionate and loyal membership base, the PCA Print Archive, and Imprint magazine – there is much to celebrate. Future directions will include increasing opportunities for diverse audiences to engage with the significant cultural resources the PCA Print and Imprint Archives offer. Another priority is continuing to develop the PCA as a dynamic hub that our members can go to for intelligent analysis and discussion surrounding contemporary printmaking in the fine art context; news on exhibitions, events and opportunities published via multiple platforms; and opportunities to engage with other members and institutions through specially planned projects to be delivered over the next fifty years. Watch this space!

Q&A with Debra Luccio

Debra LuccioCarabosse and her Rats, 2016, monotype on Velin Arches paper 44 x 58.5 cm (François-Eloi Lavignac and Shaun Andrews,
The Australian Ballet, and Guest Artist Lynette Wills rehearsing David McAllister’s The Sleeping Beauty).
Debra Luccio, Carabosse, 2015, monotype on Velin Arches paper 58.5 x 44 cm, (Amy Harris, The Australian Ballet, and Guest Artist Lynette Wills, rehearsing David McAllister’s The Sleeping Beauty).

‘When friends knew what they wanted to do with their careers, I only knew that when I retired from whatever I did (I didn’t think a career as an artist was possible) I would own a paper shop and draw all day. ‘ 

Debra Luccio lives and works in Melbourne.

Why do you make art?

It’s a question I ask myself, and I usually answer: because I need to, or because it makes me happy, which is very true. I’ve realised that when I see something inspiring, I’m compelled to capture it, to remember it, to experience it again. I feel a great need to make artwork.

What’s your relationship to printmaking?

I have always loved paper. When friends knew what they wanted to do with their careers, I only knew that when I retired from whatever I did (I didn’t think a career as an artist was possible) I would own a paper shop and draw all day. Working on paper, creating fresh, rich marks with beautiful etching inks, physically pushing both the medium and myself, is all very rewarding for me.

I find creating monotypes is the most ideal form of artwork for expressing the movement, power and sensitivity of dancers.

Even though I come from a painting and photographic background, printmaking, and especially monotypes, gives me the element of chance and surprise that isn’t possible with other techniques.

How did you get interested in printmaking?

Printmaking was part of both my Illustration Diploma and Fine Art Photography Diploma, and I thoroughly enjoyed studying it. For a while, too, I helped my husband, Marco (Luccio), in the studio. It’s very hard not to be inspired while watching Marco work!

Who is your favourite artist?

This is a very difficult question. I am inspired by many artists, and have been inspired by many over the years, from MichelangeloCaravaggioRubensDegasRodinPicasso , Käthe KollwitzEgon Schiele, to Lucien Freud and Bill Henson. There is so much to learn from, be inspired by, and enjoy, from many amazing artists.

What is your favourite artwork?

There are far too many great artworks in this world to choose from. I couldn’t even begin.

Where do you go for inspiration?

My greatest place of inspiration is The Australian Ballet studios. I am incredibly privileged to have the opportunity of attending rehearsals and sitting and drawing such talented, professional, generous dancers.

When we travel we draw from artworks and statues in museums and galleries. Spending time with great artworks is very inspiring.

What are you working on now?

Currently I have an exhibition on at Steps Gallery, The Sleeping Beauty: Images of The Australian Ballet. These are monotypes inspired by the first dress rehearsal of David McAllister’s The Sleeping Beauty. With this body of work I was interested in capturing the colour and vibrancy of the performance itself.

I will next be creating work for Port Jackson Press’s Little Window of Opportunity 9-25 September, which will coincide with the NGV’s Degas exhibition.

 

Debra Luccio‘s exhibition The Sleeping Beauty: Images of The Australian Ballet is open today and tomorrow 12–4 pm at Steps Gallery, Carlton.

Q&A with Teelah George

Teelah GeorgeLessons from Craigslist Mirrors #2, 2016, offset lithograph, 42 x 29.7 cm. Image commissioned for the cover of Imprint Autumn Vol. 51 No. 1 and produced as an unsigned and unnumbered edition of 100 posters. Photograph: Tony Nathan. Posters available for purchase for $15 each through the PCA website.

‘I still don’t really know what being an artist actually is, except that it involves doing many different things. It kind of breaks down all these categories that we use to make the world seem less strange and I like that.’ 

Visual artist Teelah George lives and works in Cottesloe, WA. Photograph: Thomas Rowe

What (or who) informed your decision to become an artist?

I’m not really sure. I was always into making things as a child, but never had enough confidence to proclaim any desire to be an artist when I was at university (perhaps not a good disposition for an art student). I went overseas immediately after finishing my studies, where I spent time working and travelling – not making anything.

After a couple of years I realised something was not right and that I wanted to make things, that making things was part of my thinking, so I got back into it. I came back to Perth mid 2012 and became obsessed with the studio. I started having shows.

I still don’t really know what being an artist actually is, except that it involves doing many different things. It kind of breaks down all these categories that we use to make the world seem less strange and I like that.

Can you tell me a little more about your work Effect of Dose on Taste (New Phase), which was awarded the non-acquisitive prize in the 2015 Fremantle Arts Centre Print Award?

It developed from an obsession with an old banner I would pass on my way to the studio. I would get off the bus to look at it as it clung to a wall in North Fremantle and it just resonated with me in terms of the ideas I have about life and what I think about through my work. Here was this object that had been manipulated by the weather and by time: its original meaning and physical form was transforming – I wanted to continue the shifting of materiality and context.

After procuring the banner I tentatively sewed a boarder around the sparse threads and documented it in collaboration with Bo Wong. I knew as soon as I started thinking about it that it had to be in the print award.

I am really interested in collections, archives and the materiality of such places. To me collections are imbued with the loveliest contradiction – they attempt to keep objects fixed in perpetuity, knowing full well that everything changes.

The object itself is ephemeral and the work now exists as a print of the object’s documentation. The University of Western Australia Art Collection has since acquired it, which is conceptually relevant to the work.

What does a day in the studio look like for you?

It varies. At the moment I am going between painting, ceramics and textile-based making. It is always pretty messy. Other studio days involve more research based activities or office duties. Walking, cleaning, looking – everything informs the studio.

How did you approach the March 2016 cover commission for Imprint?

I was working on the project while undertaking a residency at Artspace last year. At the time I was doing a lot of painting and the residual scraps of linen from this process became the initiator. I am very interested in peripheral processes, objects and observations and wanted to create a situation where I could bring this into a new material and context.

The object that is represented is intimate, tactile and unfinished, but it changes context and materiality within the printed medium of the magazine. From each process something is transferred but it also changes. I am interested in the malleability of materials and stories, so conceptually printmaking has a strong bearing on my practice.

What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I am working towards a couple of solo shows in Melbourne.

After coming back from my Sydney residency at the end of last year, I became focused on Cottesloe, where I live. It is a wonderful place, I love it, but I am always thinking about what it was like before white settlement and what it meant to the first Australians and how much we don’t know about this.

I have been doing a lot of historical research and the shows are very much influenced by this. The first show, Sleazy Vignette, in April at Rubicon ARI, will be a series of small but heavily worked paintings that laminate my present day experience with imaginings of history and myth.

My second show, in May at Schoolhouse studios, is directly influenced by a specific crow man myth of the Cottesloe region. It revolves around a changing of forms, again this idea of transformation. The show will include ceramics, textiles, prints and paintings – that’s what I have planned for now anyway.

www.teelahgeorge.com.au