Review: Frank Stella

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Frank Stella, Star of Persia II 1967, from the ‘Star of Persia’ series 1967
lithograph, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Purchased 1973

Frank Stella: The Kenneth Tyler Print Collection,

National Galley of Australia, Canberra (until July)

Reviewer: Peter Haynes

This exhibition highlights a selection of works from 1967 to 2000 created by artist Frank Stella and master printmaker Kenneth Tyler and drawn from the NGA’s incredibly rich collection of international prints.

While the overall hang is essentially chronological there has been some play with this in the initial section of the exhibition. Works from a number of series from the 1960s and early 1970s are placed variously but relationally around the walls as one enters the exhibition. The works from the 1960s (the Black series (1967); the Star of Persia series (1967); the V series (1968); and the Copper series (1970) are each characterised by a particularly singular elegant minimalism. The simple geometries (reinforced by the deliberately limited palettes) of the forms belie the expressive depth held in each graphic iteration. Stella’s highly effective use of the positive and negative spatial configurations on the paper prefigures the exuberant yet simultaneously controlled dynamism of the later works. The artist’s use of serial imagery, his signature repetition, does not signify “sameness”. Rather it announces the individuality of each print while concurrently asserting and celebrating familial similarity throughout each series.

As we progress into the 1970s colour begins to become more dominant and varied, yet it still remains constrained by the geometric forms in which it sits. Here this is beautifully exemplified in the Newfoundland series of 1971. Arcs, squares, rectangles and elliptical forms populate overall square matrices. The layered combination of forms invested with an equally varied colour palette imbues each work with a wonderful sense of immanence, a feeling that the forms and colours will explode from the paper as indeed they will as one moves through the exhibition. The flat (though bright) colours of the above are exchanged for a more explicitly graphic delineation in the works from the Eccentric series (1974).  The forms are almost “coloured in” with networks of singly coloured lines contained within each. Forms overlay and abut in combinations that speak of the eccentricities of the series’ title. Stella’s extraordinary aesthetic inventiveness is clearly evinced in the curator’s selection of early work and is for me a highlight of the exhibition.

The implied spatial dynamism of the above is liberated into exuberant expression in the early 1980s. A particularly seductive piece is Pergusa three double from the Circuits series (1982-84). This is a visual tour de force full of surface vitality and rhythmical spatial patternings. Its myriad colours aligned with graphic marks and sinuous arabesque forms presents a celebratory sensuousness that is visually enveloping and intellectually engaging. The selection from the Swan Engravings (1982-85) exquisitely highlights Stella’s and his printer’s consummate understanding of the medium (viz. etching) and the strength of aesthetic limitation. The use of black (in varying shades) is beautifully appropriate and creates a dense and rich confection. The artist’s versatility is further underscored by the inclusion of Had Gadya (1984). There is an almost explosive collision of forms that allied with a considered use of blue tones imbues that marvellous sense of immanence that becomes a given in Stella’s aesthetic treasury.

Moving into the 1990s the artist wholeheartedly embraces a Baroque lyricism and energy where harmonious combinations of colour, line and swirling (almost centrifugal) forms speak of the painterly possibilities of the graphic media. Stella does not ever feel limited by his technical choices. He is able to draw from whatever medium he chooses the most expressive content to suit his aesthetic and thematic ends. Works from the Moby Dick series (1991 and 1992) clearly illustrate this. The Moby Dick domes series (1992) remain however for me an aberrant inclusion – just too tricky. You don’t need to be too literal in signifying (unstated) possibilities! Understatement is so much more persuasive.

This is a really good exhibition exemplifying within a limited selection the great versatility, brilliance and talent of Frank Stella. It also celebrates the unlimited possibilities innate in print media and how the coming together of one individual’s aesthetic genius with another’s astute understanding of his various media moves art beyond its materials and techniques into great expressive moments.

The book accompanying the exhibition is highly recommended.

Peter Haynes is a curator, art historian and art writer. He is currently a critic for The Canberra Times. In September 2016 his monographic study on printmaker and painter Helen Geier was published by 2B in Canberra.

Postcard: Katy Mutton at ArtSpace, Sydney

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Clockwise from top: Exploring stitching; visiting Cicada Press;
                                                                                                            investigating laser press effects; and, below, some new ideas.

In June 2016 I received an email from the Print Council of Australia to advise that I had been awarded an ArtSpace residency for my commission screen print The Stack. Coincidently it was my birthday and I would have been hard pressed to think of a nicer present. I haven’t spent much time in Sydney so it was very exciting when in October, I found myself in the heart of the city, occupying a spacious self-contained studio at ArtSpace. I remember, having moved all my materials into the studio, I sat down on the sofa, taking in the silence and pondering the remarkable opportunity I had been presented with.

The spaces are fantastic, with high ceilings and large floor areas, exposed brickwork and big timber beams. The building, known as The Gunnery was built about 1900 and was used at one time by the Australian Navy as a gunnery and training facility. The Australian Navy is still present with their fleet base just nearby. In fact the view from my studio window looked directly out to some of these huge naval ships.  Given my practice has focused so much on the machines of war and our relationship with them, it seemed so fitting that I should be occupying such a space.

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ArtSpace is in Woolloomooloo; the suburb is a surreal mix of creeping gentrification and remaining public-housing stock.  The wealth that exists in the area emanates from Finger Wharf where multi-million dollar apartments sit above fine-dining restaurants. Just a few blocks back is a very different world where the homeless gather their day’s pickings behind boarded-up terrace houses. Just a five-minute walk in the opposite direction is the Royal Botanic Garden where groups of children gather on the lawns, eating sandwiches on their school excursions. Turn back nearer the city and you can retreat into the Art Gallery of New South Wales or walk further on to the State Library of NSW. It’s an exceptional environment to take time to wander and think.

An artist residency is as much about thinking as making and having the space to experiment. In residence my days lose their structure as I am consumed by practice. I work till 3am, sleep till 9am, work till 4pm, gather food and return to work through the night.  I used my time while undertaking this residency mainly to draw and plan for future works. I also spent a lot of time stitching on paper and mark-making. These are elements of my practice, which help me to work through ideas and allow me to absorb myself completely in process.

In addition to being in residence at ArtSpace I was also given access to the UNSW Art and Design department workshops where I was given a generous tour of their facilities. They showed me through several studios, Cicada Press and their ‘Maker Space’.  I was particularly keen to learn more about their collaborative making area where they foster an interdisciplinary environment for learning and sharing through technology. I was able to develop samples using their laser-engraving machine, which I hope will be the foundation for further experimentation with different substrate materials for printmaking. The ArtSpace staff were very welcoming, especially Lola Pinder who took time to take me over to UNSW and gave me lots of useful information about the area.

Late in the residency I held an open studio, prior to the Hungry Eyes Symposium at the Art Gallery of NSW. I enjoyed being able to discuss my practice with the group, which included members of the Print Council, ArtSpace staff and some of the other ArtSpace residents. I’m very grateful to the Print Council of Australia for providing me with this opportunity and to ArtSpace for being so supportive and accommodating. The experience has left me with plenty of new ideas and direction and I’m looking forward to spending more time in Sydney in the future. – KATY MUTTON

Katy Mutton is an interdisciplinary visual artist based in Canberra, Australia, working across drawing, painting, print and installation.

A Postcard from Beth Evans: The Hungarian Multicultural Centre

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Clockwise from top: Beth Evans (on right) with fellow artists-in-residence; Beth Evans, Plant Head, 2016, monotype, 18 x 23 cm; Beth Evans, Mask II, 2016, monotype, 18 x 23 cm.

I attended an artist residency during the month of June at the Hungarian Multicultural Center Inc. (HMC), in Budapest. The HMC is a non-profit organisation dedicated to inspiring, connecting and exhibiting artists of all nationalities. The residency is open to visual artists, writers and performers and provides them the opportunity to produce new work while engaging with the arts community in Budapest. During the residency HMC holds artist talks, workshops and presentations, and participants visit a range of exhibitions. Its aim is to provide artists with a supportive community and uninterrupted time to work.

My fellow residents were a young couple Alyssa Dillard and Bret Adams from Texas, USA. I enjoyed their vibrant company immensely and we shared many evening conversations about art and life over a glass of Pálinka in the garden. Upon our arrival, Beata Szechy, artist, curator and executive director of HMC, marked our city maps with cultural sights and places of interest and sent us off to explore Budapest using its wonderful transport system. Beata kindly introduced us to her network of friends, artists, writers and curators at the various gallery openings we attended. Along with her constant canine companion Maxine, she generously took us on many informal tours of the city and surrounding countryside.

Its distinctive blend of the old and the modern makes the city an architectural wonderland. In Budapest you can find 2000-year-old Roman ruins, beautiful Gothic churches, fabulous Renaissance opera houses, lavish Turkish communal baths, grand Baroque palaces, impressive Classical train stations and glorious Art Nouveau architecture. The city is enthralling. It is simultaneously uplifting and down-to-earth, a busy metropolis and at the same time a peaceful haven. We were lucky to be there for ‘The Night of Museums’ held on Midsummer when the many galleries and museums are open from 2 pm until 2.30 am. Around fifty museums, exhibition halls and other venues welcome visitors with art, literary, folk and gastronomy programs. They feature a wide range of children’s programs, which offer both fun and education to the whole family on the longest day of the year. Not only do prominent museums and galleries take part, but also, curious places such as the Hospital in the Rock Museum and the Postal Museum. We also took the opportunity to see Beata’s solo exhibition Könny (v) ek/Tears of Books at the prestigious Petofi Literary Museum. Another highlight of my stay was a visit to the Aquincum Museum and its extensive collection of letterpress and printing presses.

The residency gave me the opportunity to experiment and to explore new directions in my art practice. The informal sessions in the garden, where Beata and I sipped our morning coffee, exchanged ideas and discussed the progress of my work, became a daily ritual which we both enjoyed. I produced a series of monotypes during my stay, two of which were included in the Környezetvédelem/Enviromental Project exhibition curated by Beáta Széchyin and displayed at Galéria 12 Kávézó és Borbár, Budapest, from 24 August to 11 September.

Beth Evans is a printmaker and book artist and works from the Tannery Printmaking Studio in Adelaide.

The 10th Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair: A Postcard from Laura Taylor

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Images clockwise from top: DAAF map; Naiya Wilson (Durrmu Arts Aboriginal Corporation); Jean Baptiste Apuatimi, tungas.

Greetings!

As part of my day job with the Aboriginal Art Centre Hub of Western Australia (AACHWA) in Perth, WA, I had the opportunity to travel to Darwin at the start of August to attend the 10th Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF).

This popular three-day art fair is held each year to coincide with the prestigious National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (held at MAGNT), and provides visitors, galleries and serious collectors with an opportunity to buy art directly (and ethically) from Aboriginal-owned and incorporated art centres.

In 2016 DAAF hosted approximately sixty Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-owned art centres from across Australia – an astounding number presenting a mind-boggling offering of 2D and 3D arts and crafts. And since I was there I happily wandered around during the three days to check out which art centres were presenting works-on-paper.

Unfortunately I can share only a few images here of the otherwise hugely diverse and incredibly exciting selection that was on display at the Fair. And, to be honest, until then I didn’t fully realise just how many artists and art centres have engaged in printmaking either independently, or with the assistance of a master printer and/or print studio. Worthy of further research!

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Paul Bong, vinylcuts.

So, my teaser selection of art centres and works are:

SMALL James Gaston, At the Show, Linocut, Larrakia  Nation Art
SMALL Lisa Michl, Ntarr I, 2009, etching, Umi Arts
SMALL Timothy Martin, Leon Pungili, AND  Cyril Modikan   (Durrmu Arts Aboriginal Corporation)
Top l-r: James Gaston, At the Show, Linocut, Larrakia Nation Arts; Lisa Michl, Ntarr I, 2009, etching, Umi Arts.
l–r: Timothy Martin, Leon Pungili and Cyril Modikan (Durrmu Arts Aboriginal Corporation).

There were also numerous art centres from WA; however, I hope to blog about them separately next year (in April 2017) when Warlayirti Artists from Balgo, WA, hold a print exhibition at Mundaring Arts Centre to coincide with the annual Revealed – WA Emerging Aboriginal Art Exhibition and Art Market – held at Fremantle Arts Centre. Until then!

Cheers – Laura

PCA Committee Representative, WA.

Portland Bay Press: A Postcard by Kate Gorringe-Smith

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Images clockwise from top: installation of Kate Gorringe-Smith’s work in the Portland Bay Press gallery window; Hertha Kluge-Pott, PBP Patron, printing on the new press 2003, photo by James Wallace; Carmel Wallace, Untitled, 1993, relief print, 120 x 80 cm (see exhibition details below).

Portland, Victoria’s oldest European settlement, lies four hour’s drive west of Melbourne and six hour’s drive east of Adelaide. Despite its geographical isolation, Portland has a thriving and outward-looking artistic community that in 2002 ambitiously decided to set up a public-access etching workshop and gallery.

The idea for Portland Bay Press (PBP) was born when a couple of presses became available from a local university print facility that was being closed down. In the end those presses did not find a home at PBP, but by then the idea had taken root, resulting in Carmel Wallace and Karl Hatton jointly submitting a successful grant application to Arts Victoria to establish an etching studio. At that time Carmel was the administrator of the Portland Emerging Artists Residency program and Karl was the Glenelg Shire Council Cultural Services Officer.

The energy that surrounded PBP’s beginnings was as volcanic as that which formed the local landscape. As a creative force it came into being fully-formed, boldly claiming its place on Australia’s printmaking map: it was opened on 19 July 2003 by Australian Print Workshop Director Anne Virgo and its champion and patron is renowned printmaker Hertha Kluge-Pott. Even before its official opening, PBP had already hosted six workshops with local and international artists: New York-based printmaker Denise Kasof; master printer Bill Young; Byron Bay artist Jay Pearse; retired head of printmaking at Deakin University Ron Quick; founding artist Carmel Wallace* and PBP patron Hertha Kluge-Pott. In its first months it also held three major exhibitions!

PBP is a facility that would be enviable in any city, let alone in a remote town with a population of under 10,000. The studio houses four presses: two Enjays (with beds 82 x 160 cm and 45 x 92 cm), a third smaller press, and a Wilson hand press. Based in the building of an old Hotel (the Union Inn, opened in 1849), the studio has beautiful natural light and the walls have been restored to create a professional gallery space.

To make PBP an even more enticing destination, artists can apply to use the two-bedroom apartment above the studio through the Portland Artist Residency Program. The program creates a mutually enriching opportunity for visiting artists and the local community. An original internal staircase gives artists immediate access from the apartment to the studio, providing the perfect opportunity for printers to stay in Portland and make use of the print facilities.**

A shopfront and an additional gallery space next door provide a hub for other branches of Portland’s creative community, and together with PBP and the apartment, these facilities form the Julia Street Creative Space arts complex. Portland is also home to Portland Arts Centre that has a gallery, a theatre and a studio space.

Since its ambitious beginnings thirteen years ago, PBP has confidently maintained its identity as a significant Australian art hub. Blessed by the proximity of the upstairs apartments and the strong artist-in-residence program, PBP continues to benefit from an ongoing flow of top-quality printmakers and other artists who are drawn to this inspiring part of the world.

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*The founding members of PBP were: Carmel Wallace (Convenor), Therese Dolman (Secretary), Catherine Francis (Treasurer), Pat Jarrett, Deborah Bunce, Andy Govanstone,  Rebecca Marriott, Debby Punton, Jan Frost, Mel Halz, Annette Taylor, Pam Beinssen, Bronwyn Mibus, Mimi Murrell, David Burgoyne and Gordon Stokes.

**See the Portland Artist Residency website for further information.

Carmel Wallace: Printed in Portland – a survey of prints including early screenprints developed at portland community access print studio, and etchings, relief, and monoprints made at Portland Bay Press and in the artist’s studio – will be on display at Portland Bay Press from 2 September to 2 October. Opening: Saturday 3 September, 4 pm.

Kate Gorringe-Smith is an artist and the Vice President of the Print Council of Australia.

Collection as Nexus: Community, Culture, Connections

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John Coburn, Sacred site, 1987, screenprint. Image courtesy of the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery.

Wagga Wagga Art Gallery is the home of the Margaret Carnegie Print Collection, which holds over fifteen hundred original works by Australian artists. For the past three years this collection has been used as a nexus for education and engagement programs, making connections through printmaking.

These broad ranging programs have built upon and expanded successive iterations of outreach initiatives that have used printmaking to involve community and cultural perspectives. The success of these programs has also been founded upon partnerships across multiple institutions, particularly between the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), and the Arts Unit of the New South Wales Department of Education and Communities.

One of the programs, Ngulagambilanha: be returning home, has used artworks by Indigenous artists H J Wedge, Tommy McRae, and Lorraine Connelly-Northey from the AGNSW collection, and, from the Margaret Carnegie Print Collection, Wiradjuri artist Roy Kennedy’s prints My original mission – Darlington Point and Booligal weigh station. These etchings have been used as a catalyst for students to explore techniques and ideas at the on-site workshops at Wagga Wagga, which also drew heavily upon the AGNSW education kit Home: Aboriginal art from New South Wales.

Kennedy also participated in a video-excursion from the AGNSW during this program. Kennedy provided a particularly strong focus as he grew up on Police Paddock Mission during the Depression, then moved away when his mission closed in 1941. His work draws on ‘his mother’s stories and his own experience … documenting a life of dislocation and deprivation, from the Depression years up until the abolition, in 1940, of the notorious Aborigines Protection Board that managed the missions in New South Wales.’[1]

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Roy Kennedy, My original mission – Darlington Point, undated, etching. Image courtesy of Wagga Wagga Art Gallery.

Another education program KaPOW! (Kids and Print Outreach Workshops) has featured a broad range of prints from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, including G. W. Bot, Jock Clutterbuck, John Coburn, Rona Green, Treahna Hamm, Arone Raymond Meeks, and Judy Watson. These works have provided models for different printmaking techniques which were then integrated into participatory workshops. For example, John Coburn’s Sacred site screenprint was used to model the reduction relief printmaking process.[2]

This expansive suite of programs has generated a synergistic flow of energy, creativity and expertise across a broad range of regional, remote and rural communities. The Gallery itself has provided a welcoming environment to bring together local Indigenous representatives, specialist print educators, curatorial staff across multiple disciplines, and learners of all ages. In addition, the development of complementary outreach programs has brought the Gallery out of the institutional framework and into the wider region – significantly encouraging participation from community groups lacking previous experience of arts-focused education activities.

Engagement programs such as KaPOW! and Ngulagambilanha demonstrate how the use of well-established collections can provide an innovative and rich means of reaching out into communities, as well as extending the traditional exhibition focus of galleries. Many different programs can be initiated and structured around these collections, relating to cultural contexts, art making and appreciating. Such programs also enable the development of strong connections between the art gallery and its collections, and the community not just within the artistic sphere but well beyond. In turn, this provides opportunities to open up a greater discourse around cultural practices, community engagement and artistic practice in reference to collections.

 

Gulbalanha: know and understand each other is the culmination of the second utilisation of the partnership between AGNSW, The Arts Unit and WWAG. On display at Wagga Wagga Art Gallery from 17 September to 20 November 2016.

 

References

[1] Hetti Perkins in Tradition today: Indigenous art in Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2014

[2] Linda Elliott, ‘Catalysing Collections’, Imprint Vol. 48 No. 3, 2013.

Linda Elliott is Curator Education and Public Programs at Wagga Wagga Art Gallery.

A Postcard from The Big Print, Inkfest 2016

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Clockwise from top: InkMasters and Mistresses at the Big Print event; unveiling the Big Print; The Big Print in progress with the 1.6 ton tandem compactor press. Images courtesy of Frei Films and Inkmasters Cairns Inc.

At the Tanks Markets an eager crowd looked on as the InkMasters BIG PRINT production team carried out the biennial Big Print this time using a 1.6 ton tandem compactor as the press. A successful project, which was months in the planning, left many smiling student faces and happy memories. Yorkey’s Knob, Redlynch and Worree primary schools and St Mary’s, St Augustine’s and Trinity Anglican School secondary students took part in this project. Inkmasters Hannah Parker and Theo Tremblay worked with the art teachers in their respective schools, and REACH (Regional Excellence in Arts and Cultural Hubs) supported the project. Jessica Roelofs coordinated the whole Big Print project for Inkmasters, and has installed the finished prints 7 x 1 x 2 m) at Cell Artspace, Cairns, where they can be viewed until 21 August. Visit the InkMasters Facebook page for the full story!

Margaret Genever is an artist and President of InkMasters Cairns Inc.

A Postcard from Printing the Page, State Library of Victoria

On Tuesday 31 May, a rhyme of poets and an impression of printers/artists descended on the Keith Murdoch Gallery at the State Library of Victoria (SLV) for ‘Printing the Page’, a special workshop conceived and coordinated by Marian Crawford (artist, lecturer and PCA committee member) on behalf of the Print Council of Australia and in partnership with SLV (with special thanks to Suzie Gasper) in celebration of poetry and letterpress printing.

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Marian Crawford typesetting with participating poets; type tray; Greg Harrison typesetting with participating poets.

As well as forming part of the PCA’s fiftieth anniversary program, and acknowledging the important relationship between the PCA and SLV, which houses a complete set of the PCA’s Print Commission archive, there was a particular emphasis on the social dimension of print culture.

In setting the tone of the day, Crawford observed that ‘printmaking as a fine art practice is often extremely sociable, and this is observable both in the way a printmaking studio runs, in the sharing of equipment and of practical tips in process, and in the social nature of the printed image itself.’ She also cited this line from Alberto Manguel’s from The Library at Night: ‘Knowledge lies not in the accumulation of texts or information, nor in the object of the book itself, but in the experience rescued from the page and transformed again into experience, … In the reader’s own being.’

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Carolyn Fraser, Andrew Gunnell, Marian Crawford, Greg Harrison and Rosalind Atkins preparing for the poets; Francesca Sasnaitis casting her editorial eye over Andrew Linden’s poem prior to typesetting.

Indeed, this spirit of creating new experiences and discovering a greater range of creative possibilities infused the atmosphere of the day. Workshop participants were invited to bring along a three-line observational poem to set and print. To help out throughout the day with inspiration, typesetting and printing, Marian invited Carolyn Fraser (printer, writer and founder of idlewild press), Richard Harding, Rosalind Atkins, Andrew Gunnell and Greg Harrison (all artists, lecturers and printers); Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison (artists with a special interest in artist books); and Francesca Sasnaitis (poet and founder of Ratas Editions).

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Carolyn Fraser sharing her typesetting skills with attending poets.

Following the setting and printing of poems, the space was opened for public letterpress demonstrations, where many curious punters circulated and experienced the setting and printing of their names, or observed Francesca and Louise compiling and hand-binding the results of the earlier poetry workshop in a single edition of ‘Printing the Page’.

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Rosalind Atkins displaying type locked up in a chase with one of the participating poets and her freshly printed poem.

Rounding out the day, Marian Crawford spoke about her relationship to the printed page, explaining that her ‘most insistent and persistent fascination within fine art is centred around the printed image, and includes the fine art print, the printed page, and the relationship between text and image on the printed page which then extends to the book and literary studies, poetry and writing’. She then invited Carolyn Fraser and Francesca Sasnaitis to the stage. Francesca explained the collaborative process that lead to her and Crawford’s beautiful publication The Unstable Edge, and performed a reading from its pages. Later, Marian and Francesca also performed readings of the poems produced in the Printing the Page workshop.

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Richard Harding printing event participants’ poems on one of the three Adana Presses; Greg Harrison and Marian Crawford sharing their typesetting skills.

Carolyn Fraser gave a short, but tingle-inducing, presentation on the history of letterpress and amateur journalism finishing with a point that cannot be emphasised enough in this time of constant commercial pressure:

‘Rare today is the use of the word “hobby” (other than pejoratively). People have “projects” these days; the pursuit of pleasure has been supplanted in almost every area of life by economic imperatives. We may be witnessing the very last generation of amateur printer/journalists, but the influence of their activity has been vast. Gutenberg‘s press augured the beginnings of the Enlightenment. The toy press gave voice to America’s youth. Experimentation breeds expertise, amateurism breeds passion. America would be as equally impoverished had Thomas Edison not published the Grand Trunk Herald as had he not invented the phonograph, the telegraph or the electric light bulb. The word amateur comes from the Latin – amator – lover. This is what lasts – that which we love. Our culture depends on it.’

Hear, hear!

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Printing the Page participants holding their letterpress printed poems (clockwise): Rachel, Fiona and Monique, and Sandra.
Clockwise: Julie De Silva reading ‘Violin’ the poem she brought to set and print; Lou Baxter quoting a popular maxim that she chose to set and print; Andrew Linden reading ‘Dreaming’, his paraphrased version of a verse from the poem ‘Last Night as I was Sleeping’ by twentieth century Spanish poet Antonio Machado.

Marguerite Brown’s Postcard from the Sunshine Coast

Judy Watson surrounded by participating artists in the Regional Marks exhibtion
Full House at Regional Marks Opening
Viewers admiring the artisst books of Helen Sanderson at Regional Marks
Clockwise from top: Judy Watson surrounded by participating artists in the Regional Marks exhibition; viewers admiring the artist books of Helen Sanderson at Regional Marks; full house at Regional Marks opening.

This year the PCA had the good fortune of being invited to hold our Annual General Meeting at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. The event that brought us to this very beautiful part of Australia was the occasion of the Regional Marks exhibition, held at the University of the Sunshine Coast Gallery, as part of our fiftieth anniversary Year of Print celebrations. This region is full of talented artists who use printmaking to explore various thematic, conceptual and technical approaches resulting in a really exciting and diverse exhibition. The opening night on Thursday 19 May was a full house, with opening addresses by Gallery Curator Lou Jaeger, exhibition Curator Catherine Monéy, PCA President Akky van Ogtrop, and contemporary artist Judy Watson.

Following Catherine and Lou’s fantastic introduction, Akky gave the audience an insight into the history of the PCA, from its early formation by Dr Ursula Hoff and Grahame King at the NGV print room in the late 1960s to the vibrant organisation it is today. While Judy spoke of the various works in the show, noting the rich connection to the natural world expressed by many, and describing a sense of the artwork as a nourishing force for viewer and maker alike.

Sunshine Coast printmaker Susan Bowers showing Kate Gorringe Smith one of her exquisite artist books
Claude Jones work at Caloundra Regional Gallery
Work by the Cooroora Institute at USC Gallery Regional Marks exhibition
Clockwise from top: Sunshine Coast printmaker Susan Bowers showing Kate Gorringe-Smith one of her exquisite artist books; work by the Cooroora Institute at USC Gallery Regional MarksClaude Jones‘s work at Caloundra Regional Gallery.

The following day Queensland Committee Representative Tory Richards led PCA committee reps from other states and myself on a tour of some of the many artist studios and galleries in the hinterlands of the Sunshine Coast. Taking in spectacular views of rolling valleys and the Glass House Mountains on the way, we were given a sneak peek into the private working spaces of local artists and a great insight into their methodologies and concepts explored. Sincere thanks to Stephanie McLennan, Susan Bowers, Fiona Demptser and Barry Smith for opening their studios to us and for their warmth and hospitality, and for Art on Cairncross gallery for showing us their space.

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Glass House Mountains

Between absorbing fabulous artworks plus the natural grandeur of the region, by the end of the day we were approaching sensory overload – but of the best possible kind!

It was back to business on Saturday 21, with the AGM taking place and with new and returning committee members being voted into the PCA Committee. Thanks to all of the PCA members who attended the meeting, and the subsequent Panel Discussion on that always contentious question ‘What is Print?’ With Akky van Ogtrop chairing the discussion as MC, contemporary artist and former PCA Vice President Jan Davis, fellow artists Stephen Spurrier and Russell Craig discussed issues surrounding how we define print in the twenty-first century and the multifarious ways artists engage with printmaking both in traditional forms, and as an expanded practice.

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‘What is Print?’ being debated in a panel discussion at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Panelists (from left) Russell Craig, Jan Davis, Stephen Spurrier and MC Akky van Ogtrop.

Then it was off to the Caloundra Regional Gallery, where we imbibed champagne and a delicious spread while listening to the fascinating introduction to the current exhibition Animal fanfare: humans – animals – environment by Gallery Curator Hamish Sawyer. It was great to see the gallery embrace the work local artists by dedicating a special space to the display local printmakers’ work in their feature artist section. A fine way to finish what was a brilliant visit to the Sunshine Coast. Sincere thanks to Tory Richards for her hospitality and tireless work in planning the program of events, and all those involved in welcoming the Print Council with such generosity. We look forward to the next visit!

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A visit to the beautiful studio of Malaney printmaker Stephanie McLennan pictured standing, and PCA committee members (from left) Tory Richards, Kate Gorringe-Smith, Jan Davis, Akky van Ogtrop, artist Susan Bowers and committee member Jill O’Sullivan.
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Marguerite Brown is General Manager of the Print Council of Australia.

A Postcard from Prue MacDougall: SGCI, Portland, Oregon

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Clockwise from top: SGCI Open Portfolio 2016 (Prue MacDougall); SGCI visit to Gamblin InksTrans-Dimensional Exhibition of 2D & 3D prints, SCGI 2016.

I had been looking forward to attending my second Southern Graphics Council International (SGCI) conference for some time. One thousand six hundred printmakers descended on Portland, Oregon, for one of the biggest annual gatherings on the US printmaking calendar.

The theme for this year was ‘FLUX … the edge of yesterday and tomorrow’. This time I knew to make selections that interested me in advance, from the many events on offer. Seventeen Panel Sessions, eight incubator sessions, twenty-one themed Portfolio exhibitions, a mentoring program, gallery exhibitions, four open portfolio rounds, a visit to Gamblin Inks, and the Product and Publishers Fair made it impossible to attend everything in three days!

I loved every minutes of it: meeting likeminded artists, being able to take part, and seeing some really inspirational work and demos.

Next year’s SGCI will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, 15 – 18 March, 2017. The theme is ‘Terminus’. For more information visit the SGCI website or email sgci2017@gmail.com.

Prue MacDougall is an artist printmaker from New Zealand. She was one of the 2015 PCA Print Commission artists.