A Postcard from Melissa Smith: Printed Stuff

All images were taken during the opening of Printed Stuffcourtesy of Melissa Smith.

Hi All,

Great opening at the s.p.a.c.e. Gallery in Launceston on Thursday (5/5) for the show Printed Stuff, one of the shows on the calendar for the Year of Print … wonderful turn out. David Marsden had accumulated an incredible collection of prints … almost a museum of print!! He had borrowed works form the University of Tasmania collection, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, private collectors and more! There was even a 1987 PCA poster on display! He had printed fabrics, toys, ceramics … it really is a fantastic exhibition!!

Have a read of Printed Stuff curator David Marsden‘s statement:

Before there was Banksy there were stencilled handprints in Australia and other places, followed a long time later in China by stamps and seals carved from stone, and, later again, in Europe by playing cards carved from pear wood. Then sometime later a Bible printed by Gutenberg and then Apocalypse by Dürer, and quite a while later by William Morris wallpaper and the floating world of Hokusai and then the German expressionist woodcuts.

The elaborate engravings of the silversmiths and armour makers became the Battle of the Sea Gods by Mantegna, then Dürer’s  Knight, Death and the Devil. In later times, along came engraved postage stamps and banknotes and maps and calligraphic letterheads and the Melbourne Cup. With chemistry came etched copper plates by Rembrandt and Goya and Piranesi and then Willow pattern plates and, by and by, the halftone plate for photographs and Bea Maddock. Somewhere along the chemistry line Aloys Senefelder quickly made a laundry list lithograph on limestone, a process which languished commercially until artists got hold of it and proved its worth – Benjamin West, Fuseli and Goya again, and Toulouse Lautrec, Kevin Lincoln and Jan Senbergs. Stencils in Japan became silkscreen in Britain, which became Liberty prints, enamelled street signs and then Reg Mombassa and Eat Your Garden posters and Chameleon.

The letterpress, which came down the linotype line from Gutenberg, became the The Illustrated London News with wood engraved illustrations, which gave way to the chemical etching of photographic plates and gravure and reigned supreme until Senefelder’s process lithography became offset onto everything from tin toys to Willow pattern tins, jam labels, book covers and The Examiner.  Now in its fiftieth year, the Print Council of Australia has long been devoted to print as art. This exhibition, Printed Stuff, celebrates this and the art of printing.

Melissa Smith is an artist and a PCA Committee Member.

Printed Stuff will be on display at s.p.a.c.e Gallery until 27 May.

A Postcard from Sonya Hender: Print Week at Quick Whippet Studio

All images were taken during Print Week at Quick Whippet Studio and are courtesy of Sonya Hender.

The Quick Whippet printmaking studio at Port Elliot is located at the creative hub of Factory Nine, conveniently next to a coffee roaster. Port Elliot is small seaside town in the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia, with a population of about 2000 people during winter. It possibly has some similarities to the fictional Portwenn in Cornwall!

One of the aims of the studio is to provide a printmaking experience through
community events and open access studios. The doors to our large shed were open for five days and we had a number of visitors who came to learn screenprinting, non-toxic etching, lino and wood carving. Many young participants are employed in the town in a combination of part time work and study. The person who works at the bakery in the morning may serve you coffee at a café in the afternoon or dinner at the local restaurant. The ‘word of mouth’ about Print Week through these informal networks worked very well and the numbers of novice printmakers increased throughout the week.

We were also fortunate to have the participation of two very talented art teachers from local schools who have attended a series of workshops at the Quick Whippet Studio and know how to quickly locate specific materials. Workshops by Kathy Boyle, Geoff Gibbon, David Frazer, Christobel Kelly and Simone Tippett have been a great base for our open studios. Continuing interest in these artists and their various techniques contributed to our Print Week accompanied by much laughter and very inky hands.

Emma Sirona-MacDonald and I facilitated the various sessions and we enjoyed the fresh approach and problem solving of our participants. We learned that it was important to be flexible, supportive and to match different processes to individuals through a brief consultation on arrival. Some have done specific techniques at school and wanted to try something different, though specific iconography and screenprinting were very popular with our younger group. Some just wanted to work in companionable silence to music and the cosy wood fire. We enjoyed participants developing non-traditional techniques or creating new ways to print. The studio now has an interesting collection of objects, which were used as a starting point for a print.

We had to learn not to worry about ‘inky’ equipment and benches, while substitute and less expensive felts were useful. At the end of the day, we didn’t always have time to restore the studio, but in the mornings we were met with the welcoming sight of drying prints waiting to be collected, the beginning of new work and the rearrangement of work spaces, which made it all very rewarding. The Quick Whippet Studio will be relocating to a heritage building (formerly the Post Office), at 41 ‘The Strand’, Port Elliot, which is in the main street leading to the beach. We will be able to offer some evening sessions in our next Print Week to be held in October 2016. From 1 August, there will be a permanent exhibition of works from South Australian printmakers in the adjoining ‘Strand Gallery’. Given local enthusiasm and support of wonderful artists and teachers, the interest in printmaking in our town may rival other activities, although perhaps not surfing!

A Postcard from Simone Tippett: 50 Prints in 50 Hours

During the first weekend of March 2016, over sixty printmakers and five studios in Auckland and South Australia printed simultaneously and collaboratively for nearly 100 hours. Participating studios:

Adelaide, AUS
Union St Printmakers (Simone Tippett)
Tooth & Nail (Jake Holmes & Joshua Searson)
Quick Whippet Studio (Sonya Hender, in Pt Elliot SA)
Studio Nick (Nick Falkner, in a Singapore Hotel)

Auckland, NZ
Blue Bathtub Press
(Toni Mosley)
Nathan Homestead

Clockwise from top: prints produced during the print marathon by the Union St Printmakers; participating printmakers at Blue Bathtub Press; participating printmakers at Union St Printmakers.

The idea of a community print marathon was conceived by Toni Mosley and Simone Tippett at the Eighth Australian Print Symposium at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, in May 2015. Toni and Simone swapped notes and got excited about Prue MacDougall’s (NZ) and James Pasakos’s (AUS) travelling print exchange Thinking of Place. They decided to organise a community print marathon, to happen simultaneously in Auckland and Adelaide, aiming for fifty prints in fifty hours, to celebrate the Print Council of Australia’s fiftieth anniversary in 2016. At the same time they hoped to bring people together to hang out over their presses, do something a little crazy and have fun.

Prints produced during the print marathon by Tooth & Nail.

Together, participants created monoprints by playing with each other’s plates and paper, randomly printing over each other’s work. From the results, fifty completed prints will be selected from each city, twenty-five of which will be swapped with the other city. Later this year each city will exhibit their twenty-five prints alongside the twenty-five prints given by the other city. All of the prints will be available for sale at the exhibitions. And all participants will receive a zine commemorating their involvement. (The zine will consist of prints from both regions.)

The theme of the print marathon was Compass, in part because of the different locations of the participating studios, and also because compasses look great on prints.

A print produced during the print marathon by the Union St Printmakers.

The prints are fabulously and unpredictably layered, having evolved in random and unspecified ways. Small groups of artists collectively made intuitive decisions, responding to each other and making their choices aesthetically. A print was declared ‘finished’ when a small number of the group (or an individual) decided the image felt complete. Each studio evolved its own unofficial aesthetic and, as the marathon played out, aesthetics developed and changed within studios over the course of the day as the participants came and went …

Prints produced during the print marathon by Blue Bathtub Press.

In all, it was a seriously fun and rewarding weekend. We plan to do it again, with even more studios next year. We hope it will become SOOOOO popular that we will awake one day to discover we’ve taken over the world with gatherings of folk monoprinting. Let’s face it, what printmaker doesn’t like to hang out and have fun? Yay!

Prints produced during the print marathon by Quick Whippet Studio.

Final Tally

Over sixty printmakers (ranging from kids and beginners, to experienced printmakers).
Five printmaking studios.
Auckland: over sixty finished prints in thirty-eight hours at one location (in two stretches of thirty-three and five hours respectively).
South Australia: over ninety finished prints in fifty-nine hours, in four locations and with fifty-eight people involved.
Most unusual print: carved soap print from coffee grounds by Studio Nick in a Singapore Hotel (see his account of printing recycled coffee grounds from hotel soaps below).
Consumed: hundreds of cups of tea and coffee, many pizzas and a few beers.
Happiness and joy: beyond words!
Likelihood of it happening again: absolutely!

Prints produced during the print marathon by Tooth & Nail.

Tips for Hotel Room Printers

Nick Falkner, a Union St Printmaker, was overseas at the time of the print marathon. Not one to miss out, he participated from his Singapore studio (ahem, hotel room) with found materials and limited art supplies:

Prints produced during the print marathon by Studio Nick (Nick Falkner) and process images from Nick Falkner‘s hotel room printing session.

I had so much fun doing this. The next time you are on a trip, it’s a real blast to run off some quick prints from soap and coffee grounds, on the run. Then, during clean up, you can use what’s left of your printing block in the shower. Total recycling! 

  1. Almost every hotel room has teeny tiny soaps that are almost useless. It turns out that this is because they are designed for printmaking and make excellent blocks.
  2. Tea spoons make quite acceptable carving styluses and barens (if you have a small brush, use the hard end as that’s great).
  3. Hotel windows make great light boxes (during the day).
  4. Soap is absorbent (duh) so watch your liquid levels as you have a limited time to print and, the more you print, the softer the block gets unless you let it dry out. When in doubt, just print.
  5. Coffee grounds make a tolerable sepia, with 3D effect.
  6. Poster colours and coffee don’t mix well but they do mix. Use that opacity in your favour!
  7. Coffee cups and saucers can be used as mixing stations.
  8. Hotel rooms are full of textures for rubbing, to add background.
  9. The space above the bar fridge is toasty and makes a great drying rack.
  10. Work in the bathroom, if you can. Everything in there is designed to be cleaned easily and you won’t make any mess for the cleaning staff.

It’s awesome fun. I’m going to do this again!

A Postcard from Trent Walter, Art Basel Hong Kong

Clockwise from top: installing Brook Andrew‘s Building (Eating) Empire 2016; Leiko Ikemura at PolígrafaAnish Kapoor at Paragon Press.
Below: STPI at Art Basel Hong Kong.

I am in Hong Kong to install a large installation Building (Eating) Empire 2016 by Australian artist Brook Andrew at this year’s edition of Art Basel Hong Kong. The work was curated into the Encounters section of the event by Alexie Glass, director of Artspace, Sydney.

Walking around the fair during the VIP preview was my first chance to engage with many galleries I know only through reputation. And to see many artists works that I have only gazed at through reproduction. For example, works by James Lee Byars (Michael Werner Gallery) and Kishio Suga (Blum & Poe).

Works on paper were well represented with excellent stands by Polígrafa Obra Gràfica, Paragon Press, Pace Prints and STPI. Alongside an extensive collection of Joan Miro prints at Polígrafa were the monotypes of Leiko Ikemura that used relief elements arranged and printed in various compositions to make unique state works. In look and feel, these relief monotypes share much with Edvard Munch’s relief prints, though with a distinctly Japanese sensibility.

Other highlights included Matt Saunders‘s large photo-paintings at Blum & Poe including Night #2 (version 2) 2015 and James Turrell’s ukiyo-e style prints at Pace. Exhibited recently as part of his National Gallery of Australia survey exhibition, these works lose nothing over repeated viewings and serve as an incredible benchmark for printmaking today.

Trent Walter is an artist and publisher.
His studio is Negative Press.

Postcards: Mei Sheong Wong’s Greetings from Scotland

clockwise from top: Mei Sheong Wong, Achavandra Muir, 2015, etching; Mei Sheong WONG en route to the prehistoric site of the Bear Cave, Scotland, September 2015; Mei Sheong Wong and Ian Westacott at the opening of Ian’s exhibition of etchings at Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh, September 2015.

Printmaker and PCA member Mei Sheong Wong reports on her mentorship with Australian printmaker Ian Westacott in Scotland, UK, August–September 2015.

An Arts SA grant facilitated my recent mentorship with Ian Westacott in northern Scotland. En route, I visited numerous cultural sites, while billeted with the Brenner–Bauer family in Cap d’Ail, France. In Oxfordshire, as guest of the Kang–Fiennes family, I viewed historic Broughton Castle, and precious works on paper by Michelangelo, Raphael and Samuel Palmer in Ashmolean Museum’s Western Art Print Room, Oxford.

Invited by Australian printmaker Tony Linde and Leicester Print Workshop manager Lucy Phillips, I gave an artist talk at LPW on the theme of Revenants in the Scottish mediaeval ballad Clerk Saunders, explored through the materiality of print media (my honours research, 2014), and on my residency at the University of Hawaii in 2015 (facilitated by Helpmann Academy and Prof. Charlie Cohan).

Curator Simon Lake kindly showed me the renowned collection of German Expressionist prints in Leicester New Walk Museum. Nearby, King Richard III’s remains (buried by Grey Friars, after Battle of Bosworth, 1485) had recently been discovered, in an unprepossessing car park, before ceremonial entombment in Leicester Cathedral.

Other places of interest visited were: Leeds; Harrogate; York Minster; Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Glasgow Cathedral; Loch Lomond; Loch Ness; Fort William; Inverness; Dornoch Cathedral; Dunrobin Castle Museum; Embo Cairn; Edderton Churchyard; Orkney Islands – Kirkwall, Skara Brae and Stromness’ Ring of Brodgar.

It was delightful to attend Ian’s exhibition opening at Open Eye Gallery in Edinburgh, and to admire his work at Browns Gallery, Tain. Also viewed were Edinburgh’s National Portrait Gallery and Joseph Beuys’ exhibition, Timespan Regional Gallery, Helmsdale. After trekking up to the prehistoric Bear Cave, we travelled across the Highlands – via Bonar Bridge, Rosehall and Oykel Bridge – to Lochinver on the rugged west coast.

En plein air, we drew onto copper plates until way too chilled to grip an etching needle. Respite from inclement weather usually took the form of steaming hot chocolate or single malt whisky. Several plates were etched and proofed, before a last-minute ‘chine collé demo’, at the end of my too-brief sojourn!

This enriching experience was enhanced by Ian’s familiarity with Pictish, Celtic and Neolithic sites; his profound knowledge of great ancient trees; his printmaking expertise; and his boundless generosity. His wife Sue and their son also made me feel most welcome. Still working on my copper plates, I plan to develop a body of work for exhibition, based on this marvelous journey.

Postcards: Pia Larsen at the Women’s Studio Workshop

I arrived at New York’s Newark Airport on 15 October feeling energised by New York City and relieved that the flight from Australia was over! I caught a bus into ‘the city’ to catch the 8pm Adirondack Trailways coach Up State, to the small town of Rosendale in the Hudson Valley’s foothills of the Shawangunk Mountains. This beautiful part of New York State is where the Women’s Studio Workshop (WSW) was established in 1974. The aim of the founding artists, Ann Kalmbach, Tatana Kellner, Anita Wetzel and Barbara Leoff-Burge, to support women artists by providing studio space, technical support and accommodation. I would work in the Intaglio and Papermaking studios and had accepted an invitation to teach a class in intaglio in their Art In Education Program.

My first impressions were of a picture-perfect autumn environment with leaves, ranging in colour between brown, yellow, green, pink and red, fluttering in the breeze. I settled into my shared attic accommodation and started working on two images in intaglio. Each day a ‘potluck’ lunch brought together the artists, interns and staff providing an opportunity to get to know what people were doing and a sense of the bigger picture that I was part of at the WSW. Early on it was evident that the WSW is structured around trust, respect and independence. I had a generous work area looking out to trees and fields where I spent most days and some evenings. Leslie Nichols, my fellow artist in residence, was exploring Typography for a series of portraits of women and we established a great camaraderie and had many discussions about the art world, the US and Australia.

By the end of the second week I had printed the soft ground images Hindsight and Divide and was ready to turn my mind to papermaking. I learnt how to beat, pull and dry paper in a range of individually mixed ‘autumn’ pigment colours under the expert tuition of Chris Petrone, the Studio Manager. She was a great support for anything I wanted to do or try across printmedia, papermaking and printing digitally onto my handmade, pigmented paper. I became enthralled with the different states of paper pulp and explored this through two bodies of work. For the Welcome series each paper sheet had to be perfectly flat for digital printing before being folded into an American sized milk carton shape. This project would not have been possible without Scott Denman who handled the digital printing in Kingston. The other body of work titled Autumn Cocktails explored paper pulp in its freshly pulled state applied directly to a variety of glass bottles which were then burnished to a smooth finish or left raw.

The residency provided a wonderful environment for focused work and getting to know like-minded people from around the US. The trees were now bare, the leaves covering the ground and the glorious colours of mid-October now faded into shades of brown.

I would spend the next three weeks travelling through NYC, Washington D.C. and San Francisco.

Work from the residency will be part of the exhibition Two Generations: Larsen & Lewers, Pia Larsen and Tor Larsen, Spot 81, April 2016.


Pia Larsen works with drawing, text, printmedia, paper and metal to explore human agency within social and political contexts. Over time her work has expanded to incorporate sculptural elements in small-scale pieces and large-scale installation environments. She has exhibited widely over the past twenty years in solo and group shows, commercial galleries and ARI’s and was represented by the Damien Minton Gallery from 2008 to 2012.

Pia Larsen, Autumn Cocktails, 2015, paper (made by the artist), pigment and glass, dimensions variable.
bottom left to right
Pia Larsen, Autumn Cocktails (detail), 2015, paper (made by the artist), pigment and glass, dimensions variable.
A view of the trestle bridge and surrounds near the Women’s Studio Workshop.

Postcards: Mountain Seas Retreat, Flinders Island

Mountain Seas Retreat is located near Trousers Point, on the southwestern corner of Flinders Island. With the Strzelecki National Park almost in the back yard, sandy beaches and rugged coastal areas within easy walking distance, it was an ideal place to immerse myself in the natural environment and concentrate on my art practice. I was delighted to be accepted for the minimum stay of two weeks.

In late September, I flew from Adelaide to Melbourne, and then the adventure started with a flight on a small plane from Essendon to Whitemark. I was collected from the airport by Annie Wilkins, and given an orientation of Whitemark, gravel roads, Trousers Point Beach, the studio, the facilities of the retreat, and the amazing scenery.

I quickly started to immerse myself in this isolated community, acquainting myself with the abundance of wildlife. I nearly tripped over a tiger snake on the first afternoon, but, more commonly, my sightings were of wallabies, wombats and pademelons. There is a huge variety of birdlife – a highlight was spotting a white-bellied sea eagle. I took opportunities to explore both the variety of landscapes, to examine the plant life and the history of this beautiful and remote island.

Mountain Seas Retreat has an art studio, though no printing press at this stage so I relied on hand burnishing. Still, what better opportunity to draw, paint or photograph the wilderness?

Part of the residency requires that the artist give something back to the island community. I offered both a linocut demonstration and an introduction to watercolour techniques for islanders to attend. I was also able to display some of my prints in the Mountain Seas Retreat gallery. Residencies are generally offered between April and October each year, with full details and application forms available on the Mountain Seas website.

I would like to thank Lila and David Tresemer for offering an Artist In Residence program at Mountain Seas Retreat, Artists Coordinator Youdit Deane, and in particular, Manager Annie Wilkins for her helpfulness, good humour, tourism advice and being a ‘Mother Hen’.

The artwork created from this residency will be exhibited in my first solo exhibition Forty•Degrees•South which will be held at Urban Cow Studio, Adelaide, 5 to 28 May 2016.


Mary Pulford is a printmaker and book artist, and has worked on display in a number of Adelaide galleries. Mary is a member of Bittondi Printmakers Association Inc, is part of Willunga Artisans Market and teaches children’s and adults art classes.

Postcards: Greetings from Impact9, China

Greetings from Hangzhou, China! We are astounded by the generosity of the China Academy of Art in their presentation of the Impact9 international printmaking conference. They have curated so many exhibitions, including the inaugural CAA Hangzhou Print Biennale, and have helped everyone with framing and installation of the works in an incredibly kind and professional way. I carried 28 A3 sized works and 20 A5 booklets with me on the plane, and when I arrived at the gallery found beautiful white frames and little wooden shelves waiting for me. I helped get the works into the frames, laid them onto the floor in the configuration that was needed, and my helpers then said ‘you can go now and our framing master will hang for you’. Back the next day, everything was up! The whole exhibition over multiple venues came together with an enormous effort from the staff and students. We are now attending the academic papers and hearing some wonderful ideas from people from China and Hong Kong, the US, Canada, Denmark, Croatia, New Zealand, the UK and of course our Australian contingent. We are overwhelmed by the scale and the friendliness and the food!

Marian Crawford

Chen Qi’s amazing woodblock: water-based printing on a massive scale!
bottom left to right
Marian Crawford’s, Ocean/Banaba Picturing the Island, installation view next to Kiki Smith’s work and artist’s book.
Calligraphy classroom.

Postcards: Greetings from Police Point Art Camp, Point Nepean

I’ve never been sure what an ‘Artist Residency’ was, but knew vaguely it was a place where an artist is given space, away from their everyday practice/life to hopefully create something new. Not being a ‘landscape’ artist, I wondered if this was for me. What I did know, however, was that being an artist is generally a solitary pursuit, which can make it difficult to find time to connect with other artists, to discuss being an artist.

Remembering the power of ‘Art Camp’ from my time as an art student – creating bonds and immersing in art with fellow artists on the journey – I decided that the Police Point venue could be the perfect place to gather some other women artists and create the space to share and make work without any expectation for a particular outcome, and to talk about our respective practices and what it is to be an artist. Of course this was completely self-serving because this is what I needed to do for myself!

What a gift: stunning surrounds and a beautiful cottage to live in for the week. It was beyond all expectations. We had a revolving door of campers and day-trippers, from the Mornington Peninsula and beyond. All fell quickly under the spell of our glorious Point Nepean, and into an easy rhythm of laughter, sharing good food, and talking about our art and our individual experiences of being an artist. Naturally, there were some cathartic tears, yet all the time we were creating as we sat around tables chatting, picking up whatever materials were at hand. No topic was out of bounds and people felt safe enough to share their thoughts about art, life, love, death, hopes, fears, dreams and everything in between – all the while making and sharing hints, tips and processes. We created some 80 postcards and other works.

Personally I didn’t come up with any new ideas, but I did realise that it was not about having an outcome per se – I resolved a couple of ideas that have been floating around, learned lots of new things and, even better, PLAYED (we artist’s generally don’t allow ourselves play time in our practice).

Most importantly, I felt heard, understood, nourished, connected and humbled by the experience. I think all participants were so pleased to discover that they are not alone in this crazy thing we call being an artist.

Thank you to the Mornington Peninsula Shire for creating this invaluable resource, and for the opportunity to participate in the pilot program.

Sharron Okines is a printmaker and the Memberships and Advertising Manager at the Print Council of Australia. She was Artist in Residence at Police Point, Point Nepean, from 24 to 28 August 2015.