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.

Canzone – Music as Storytelling

Wendy Garden, Curator of Australian Art at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, reviews Angela Cavalieri‘s current exhibition, the result of a five-year exploration of Monteverdi’s madrigals, now on display at the Northern Centre for Contemporary Art, Parap, NT.

In order of appearance: Angela Cavalieri, Canzone – Music as Storytelling (installation view showing left to right: Combattimento, 2013, and Il ritorno, 2015); Canzone – Music as Storytelling (installation view showing left to right: Ragionando, 2015; Gira …, 2014; and Giro, 2015). Below: Ragionando, 2015, hand-printed linocut, acrylic on canvas, 212.5 x 150.5 cm; All images courtesy of the artist and NCCA.

Opera today is loved for its melodrama and the expressive scores that give life to its narratives. It is essentially musical storytelling and this is what interested Angela Cavalieri in her investigations into the music of Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643), brought together in the exhibition Canzone – Music as Storytelling currently on display at the Northern Centre for Contemporary Art in Darwin.

Monteverdi is often credited with creating the first opera, L’Orfeo in 1607, but this is incorrect. What he did do, however, was create the first great opera, which gave rise to the modern form as we know it today.[1] Frequently hailed as the father of opera, Monteverdi changed opera by creating musical drama based on real people and historic events. He placed human emotions at the fore seeking a union between words and sound.

Monteverdi was an obvious choice when the Arts Centre in Melbourne commissioned Cavalieri to create a work about opera five years ago. Cavalieri has long been interested in the spoken word: the language of gossip; of love; of the tales we tell; of the things that we say and don’t say; of the things better left unsaid; of the words that can hurt or heal – and the magic of storytelling itself. Her recent foray into musical narrative, inspired by Monteverdi’s operas and madrigals, has enabled her to develop this further and draws upon her own experiences of her father singing stories to her as a child.

The Arts Centre commission was followed by a State Library of Victoria Creative Fellowship from 2012 to 2013. This enabled Cavalieri to research more thoroughly the musical scores and original sixteenth century texts and the Italian poets that inspired Monteverdi.

In 2015 Cavalieri undertook a residency in Venice at La Scuola Internazionale di Grafica and this enabled her to explore the city where Monteverdi was based in the last decades of his life. One of the significant works to come out of this residency is Il Ritorno, 2015, based on Monteverdi’s opera Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria – the story of the return of Ulysses after the Trojan wars. Constructed as a double-arched bridge over the water that swirls beneath, it calls to mind the bridges of Venice and makes reference to the twin movements of departure and return. But it also powerfully underscores the way in which words fundamentally create bridges between people. Without language and the level of deep communication it allows, we would, in many ways, remain somewhat isolated from each other. It is through words that we connect together forming bonds that encompass a broad and nuanced range of emotions.

While some of her images can be seen as a more literal response to the music and the occasion of its performance, for instance Pur ti miro, pur ti godo, 2012, other images are more abstract in their treatment. An example is Ragionando, 2015, from Monteverdi’s Seventh Book of Madrigals. It is a response to the moment in the story when the two lovers kiss. They lament that while declaring their love they cannot kiss and while they kiss they cannot speak of their love – what joy if they could ‘kiss the words and to speak the kisses’. Cavalieri gives visual form to the dilemma entwining text in ribbons that interlace to create forms that have a roundedness vaguely reminiscent of pursed lips. Likewise Giro, 2015, is a play with the visual form of rounded sounds that repeat and pivot creating spirals.

Cavalieri has built an international reputation for her formidable lino-prints that give visual form to sounds, rhythms and tempos. This compelling exhibition allows us to enter into the music of Monteverdi and reflect upon the timeless narratives at the heart of his moving scores.


[1] Tom Ford, ‘Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo and the invention of opera,’ Limelight, August 2012. Accessed 5 April 2016.

Canzone – Music as Storytelling will be on display at NCCA until 7 May, 2016.


Bea Maddock: A Lifetime of Innovative Printmaking

The original article published in Imprint Winter 2013 Volume 48 Number 2.

‘For Maddock the process of creating the work of art is an essential element of the final result, requiring concentration, stamina and conceptual rigour.’

Cover for Imprint Winter 2013 Volume 48 Number 2 featuring Tony Ameneiro‘s Floral Head with Infinity Ear, 2013, multi-plate colour monotype, 76 x 56 cm.

Following the sad news of Bea Maddock’s death last weekend, and as a tribute to this inspiring artist, we revisit an article written by Alisa Bunbury, Curator, Prints and Drawings, NGV, and published in the winter 2013 issue of Imprint, Vol. 48 No 2. It appeared during the NGV‘s survey exhibition Bea Maddock, 14 February to 21 July, 2013.

Bea Maddock is one of Australia’s most significant artists, recognised in particular for her innovative and evocative prints. Through her art Maddock explored issues of loneliness, vulnerability and autonomy, and in her later work pursued investigations into place, environment and Australia’s contested histories. Maddock’s name and art are less widely known than might be expected for an artist of her stature. Although she exhibited widely over many years, she never catered to the art market. Her printed editions were small and her art was acquired more frequently by institutions than by private collectors, and in her later years she opted out of the commercial gallery system. A survey of her art was held at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1980 and major exhibitions were organised by the National Art Gallery, Wellington, which toured New Zealand in 1982–83, and jointly by the Queensland Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Australia, which toured Australia in 1991–92. Thus the current exhibition of Maddock’s art at the NGV is the first to survey her entire output. Based on the Gallery’s strong holdings, it inevitably omits some key examples of her art held in other collections, but nevertheless spans from the earliest etchings to her last great panoramic work, completed in 1998.

Born in Tasmania in 1934, Maddock trained and worked as an art teacher before heading to London to undertake post-graduate study at the Slade School (1959-61) where she first had access to printmaking facilities and training. Her earliest prints include a number of painterly lithographs and prints exploring the tonal possibilities of hard- and soft-ground etching and aquatints, primarily based on life studies undertaken at the School and strongly influenced by the prints of Georges Rouault.

On her return to Tasmania Maddock taught art at the Launceston Teacher’s College, painting, drawing, printing, making ceramics and creating the occasional sculpture in her own time. Lacking access to a press, she printed relief prints and lithographs by hand. She held her first solo show in a Launceston shopfront in 1964. The positive reception of this exhibition encouraged her to move to Melbourne, where fellow Slade student and friend Murray Walker included her work in Six Young Printmakers, at the Argus Gallery later that same year. However the move did not result in opportunities for employment and exhibitions as she had hoped; instead it was a period of great loneliness and introspection. This is apparent in the woodcuts and drypoints Maddock made at this time, which are powerful investigations into isolation and identity. Always frugal, Maddock used wood from fruit packing crates for roughly cut woodcuts, inspired by German Expressionist prints that she had seen on visits to the NGV. The small drypoints, and full editions of the woodcuts, were printed on her return to Tasmania.

For the next five years Maddock continued to work in Launceston, exhibiting in group exhibitions, being selected for print shows and winning several art prizes. Survey exhibitions of her art were shown in Ballarat in 1969, and in Launceston in 1970. During this period Maddock began to explore screenprinting, which had principally been a commercial process but was proving to be the perfect medium for pop art’s incorporation of advertising and contemporary visual culture, and the current movement of Colour Field painting, with its bold use of solid colour. Despite the lack of a darkroom, Maddock’s desire to incorporate photography into her prints was such that she even hand-copied enlarged dots onto screens, one of many examples that show her determination to achieve the desired result, however laborious the process may be.

In 1970 Maddock moved to Melbourne again when she was appointed as lecturer in printmaking at the NGV Art School (in 1973 this became part of the VCA). Here she had access to state-of-the-art facilities including a darkroom, with students keen to learn new methods. However, Maddock soon abandoned screenprinting in her own art and turned to photo-etching. One of the very first artists in Australia to explore this technique, Maddock learnt from a commercial photo-engraver. Using photographs selected from newspapers and magazines, and later her own photographs of personal items and surroundings, she then worked onto the plates by hand, creating powerful representations of contemporary life, ranging from images of war, such as Gauge (1976), to objects of daily use such as Chair II (1974). These enigmatic prints were challenging to many, but soon gained Maddock widespread recognition – three prints were acquired for the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1973, and by the end of the decade she was selected to represent Australia in Indian and Canadian art exhibitions and projects. In 1979 a substantial twelve-part mural was commissioned for the newly built High Court in Canberra.

As a counterpoint to the large-scale prints and commissioned works, in the later 1970s Maddock began producing art that was increasingly tactile and textural. She returned to painting, which she had ceased since moving to Melbourne, and began to combine techniques and media such as paper making, book binding, letterpress text and encaustic wax. For Maddock the process of creating the work of art is an essential element of the final result, requiring concentration, stamina and conceptual rigour. The inclusion of text in her art became increasingly evident, as in paintings such as Disquiet (1981) which was influenced, as was much of her work, by the art of Jasper Johns. Maddock resigned from the VCA in 1981 and taught part-time, inviting students to share the facilities at her Macedon house and studio. This was destroyed in the disastrous Ash Wednesday fires, thirty years ago this year, and her house, possessions, equipment and art collection were lost. Maddock stoically continued with plans to return to Launceston later that year, while also establishing a studio in the Victorian goldfields town of Dunolly, which she visited regularly until 1990.

A forty-day voyage to the Antarctic in the summer of 1987 inspired a return to the landscape as subject matter, for the first time since her student days, and encouraged an increasing awareness of Tasmania’s Indigenous history, which she explored in subsequent works of art. Panoramic multi-panel landscape paintings and prints form the majority of Maddock’s later work, few in number but each the result of considerable thought, preparation, research and sketches. The most magnificent and overwhelming of these is her final panorama TERRA SPIRITUS … with a darker shade of pale (1993-98), a view of the entire coast of Tasmania depicted from the sea in which issues of traditional ownership, British colonisation, recognition and reconciliation are evoked with great beauty, simplicity and power. Made from local ochre mined and prepared by Maddock herself, the work comprises an extraordinary fifty-one sheets (plus title page) which, when installed, spans forty metres, and was made in an edition of five, plus an artist’s proof. Maddock called on her decades of printmaking expertise and created the work using stencils to impress the outlines into the paper, working the ochre either into the lines, like an intaglio plate, to create the dark forms of the mountains, and leaving the lines free of pigment, like a relief block, for the highlights of the sea. The geographical locations are named, in letterpress text for the English place names, and in cursive script for the Indigenous names that appear to float across the sheet. While its vast size limits its exhibition (the NGV has twenty sheets displayed) and its reproduction, and thus a more widespread awareness of this drawing-print, it is, without doubt, a master work.

Since completing TERRA SPIRITUS in 1998 Maddock has been working to record her life’s output, in conjunction with many staff at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Launceston. Through her generosity, QVMAG holds the most substantial collection of her art, including prints, paintings, drawings, sculpture, ceramics, studies and numerous sketchbooks. A result of this diligent cataloguing and researching was published in 2011 in the catalogue raisonné of Maddock’s art from 1951 to 1983, edited by Daniel Thomas. This weighty tome is both informative and accessible, containing an overview of Maddock’s oeuvre, a biography, and an analysis of her materials and techniques during these decades, followed by entries for over 900 works, many with comments by Maddock herself. Volume two, examining Maddock’s art from 1984 to 1998, is currently being prepared by Irena Zdanowicz. In addition to these, a small publication accompanies the NGV exhibition.

The Unstable Image

Christobel Kelly reviews a new printmaking exhibition at SASA Gallery (South Australian School of Art Gallery), Adelaide, in which artists explore and challenge the inherent qualities of the medium.

Above: Aleksandra Antic, Lapse, 2013, screenprint on drafting film, 350 x 240 x 80 cm (approx). Below left: Paul Coldwell, Conversation II, 2014, inkjet and relief, 55 x 70 cm (image) 59 x 84 cm (paper). Below right: Joel Gailer, Hotmetal, 2016, screenprint on reflective mylar, 179 x 124.5 cm.

For printmakers, engagement with transparency functions on many different levels. Maybe the artist is making work that invites the viewer to look through something in order to see something else. Or maybe, as suggested by Professor Paul Coldwell in his catalogue essay for the The Unstable Image, the artist is laying bare the process by which the image is constructed. For each of the participating artists there is a sense that their work is somehow multilayered in terms of the constructed image, as well as multilayered in terms of meaning attached to the sociopolitical origins of printmaking itself.

In Aleksandra Antic’s screenprint Lapse, veils of translucent drafting film hang breezily from the ceiling, a dark silhouette of a person’s head at the base of each strip sweeping the floor. The shifting materiality of this diaphanous work belies the voicelessness of the sweeping silhouettes: a kind of cultural muteness inherent in the experience of geographical and linguistic displacement.

Language and text also sit at the core of Marian Crawford’s bibliophilic work Antiquities. Taking the transparency of archived glass lantern slides, Crawford has captured these images of ruined arches from ancient buildings and augmented them with letterpress text in an artist’s book, which juxtaposes the charm of glass slide images with the searing contemporary vicissitudes of the Middle East.

Joel GailerAlso concerned with the site of conflict, Paul Coldwell’s work plays with our viewpoint. Coldwell’s two-plate etching Plane presents a visual conundrum wherein photographic dots are enlarged to the point where we are not quite sure whether we are looking at them or through them. We are somehow looking down from above, and through the plane to the building. Thus a tiny shudder is enacted where the image slips from large scale to small scale, and then back again.

The exciting physicality of printmaking is revealed in the work of Performprint. This Melbourne based duo, Joel Gailer and Michael Meneghetti, engage in a roistering performance of the act of printmaking using, among other things, a skateboard as matrix. Another work in the exhibition is Gailer’s mirrored screenprint Hotmetal, which casts a pool of warm light down on to the gallery floor. This pellucid puddle of light shining on the harsh concrete elicited one of the audience to comment, ‘It felt wrong to step on it.’ Is this the print? Certainly the text on the floor now reads the right way round.

An engagement with ethereal text can also be seen in Olga Sankey’s work Ghostwriting where the acrylic sheets are transparent to the point where we are able to see through each finely printed layer. In that sense perhaps this palimpsest of transparencies leads us, the viewer, through each delicate layer to the point where the shadow is the print.

And so this disarming exhibition, which engages with unstable images that reveal and obscure at the same time, perhaps fulfils a longer definition of transparency: the ability to transmit light without substantially scattering it, so that things lying beyond are clearly seen.

The Unstable Image will be on display at SASA Gallery until 22 April, 2016.

Fred Genis: Master Printer

A page from the original article published in Imprint Winter 2010 Volume 45 Number 2.

‘Genis provided his own model for the modern printmaking studio. Contrary to the communal atmosphere of Stanley Hayter’s Atelier 17 model, where both emerging and established artists often worked side by side, Genis preferred working with one artist at a time, creating the right environment to work in and produce art at a peaceful, unhurried pace.’

Cover for Imprint Winter 2010 Volume 45 Number 2 featuring GW Bot‘s Paddock Glyphs – Garden of Poets, 2008, linocut on Korean Hanji paper, artist’s proof, 94.5 x 61.5 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Australian Galleries.

This article was written by the current PCA President Akky van Ogtrop and published in the winter 2010 issue of Imprint, Vol. 45 No 2.

Akky van Ogtrop presented a public ‘conversation’ with retired master lithographer Fred Genis at Tweed River Art Gallery in Murwillumbah, NSW, in conjunction with the exhibition Printer’s Proofs: From the Fred Genis Collection. Here she reflects on Genis’s career and its effect on Australian printmaking.

When lithography was established in the late eighteenth century in Germany and spread throughout Europe, it became a known fact that the European printers always kept the mysteries of lithographic processing firmly to themselves. In the 1950s a number of lithographic studios were set up in America to explore and de-mystify these processes. Treating lithography as a science, they exposed all the wonderful techniques now available to others. By 1960 the USA took the lead in the advancement of lithography as a fine art form, as important graphic workshops were established: Universal Limited Art Editions [ULAE] on Long Island, founded by the late Tatyana Grossman, and the Tamarind Workshop, starting in Los Angeles and now located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, under the direction of June Wayne. These provided opportunities for collaboration between artists and master printers, which frequently resulted in innovative prints of great technical complexity. Other printing studios experimenting with combinations of photolithography and offset lithography have further expanded the potential of this medium.

The career of master printer Fred Genis coincided with this high point in printmaking. After studying in the Netherlands at the Amsterdam Graphic School[1], and many years of travelling and working mostly as a commercial lithographer around the globe, Genis went to the USA, where he was able to realise his dream of working as a lithographic printer in a number of fine art lithography studios.

Genis tells the story that, after reading an article in Newsweek[2] about June Wayne, the founder of Tamarind Workshop, he wrote her a letter asking if it was possible for him to study at Tamarind. To his surprise he received a letter back from her. She could not give him a grant but offered him a fellowship at the studio. His experience at Tamarind allowed him to develop skills through research and practice[3]. There he met Ken Tyler and worked in his workshop, Gemini in Los Angeles, before joining Irwin Hollander in partnership to form Hollander Workshop. Hollander Workshop printed the majority of the most important American Abstract Expressionist prints of the late 1960s. Painters such as de Kooning and Motherwell made some of their first lithographs in this innovative workshop.

According to Genis, de Kooning hated working directly on lithographic stone when he first tried it. He also quickly rejected aluminium plates. Genis and Hollander offered him transfer paper so that he could work in a manner more familiar to him. De Kooning spread his drawings on the sheets of transfer paper on the floor. He then cut them up and re-aligned sections of them to make collages. These collages were then transferred to plates for printing.

Genis has an impressive American track record but after eight years in the USA and then a further five years of working in the Netherlands, he finally decided in 1979 to move to Australia permanently. It was the right time because custom-printing had become a significant part of contemporary Australian printmaking practice. In the mid-to-late 1970s Sydney was the hub of custom-printing, mainly due to the activities of Port Jackson Press, established in 1975 by David Rankin.

Genis brought with him his complete lithographic workshop and settled with his family in Kenthurst in NSW. There he created a studio in the most idyllic environment. Since settling in Australia he has worked with Lloyd Rees, Brett Whiteley, Robert Jacks, Colin Lanceley, John Olsen, Guan Wei and many others. As each artist brought their individual talents and ideas to the studio, wherever his studio was, Genis was able to facilitate and extend the possibilities available to them.

As with Willem de Kooning, some of the Australian artists like Lloyd Rees also took some urging to try out lithography. But in 1980, after much persuasion from David Rankin from Port Jackson Press, Rees agreed to work with Genis and created The Caloola Suite, a suite of 67 lithographs. Genis continued to work with Lloyd Rees and printed his entire lithographic oeuvre.

His first Australian assignment was with John Olsen for a print commissioned by the Print Council of Australia. Genis recalls that the stone broke in two. He rang the Print Council to tell about this disaster. After some thought, the Print Council person asked him if it was possible to glue the stone together again.

Olsen lived close to Genis’s studio in Kenthurst. Genis invited Olsen to make a series of lithographs: Down Under. As with de Kooning, Genis introduced Olsen to transfer paper, and the directness of the process allowed the prints to have a freshness and spontaneity not possible with etching. For Olsen this method was ‘fabulous for picking up brush marks, any stain or blot’.

More than other printmaking techniques, artists using the lithography medium still largely depend on access to a good printer, and the development of the medium has been greatly influenced by when and where master printers have established their studios. Colin Lanceley remembers, when he came back to Australia in 1981, one of the first people he met was Fred Genis: ‘Fred is a wonderful lithographer. I’m sure you know his work. It’s been a tremendous privilege to work with him. I don’t think I could really, sort of, make prints at all – I have no equipment at home, for instance. I depend very heavily on the technical help and expertise of masters like Fred Genis.’[4]

Genis provided his own model for the modern printmaking studio. Contrary to the communal atmosphere of Stanley Hayter’s Atelier 17 model, where both emerging and established artists often worked side by side, Genis preferred working with one artist at a time, creating the right environment to work in and produce art at a peaceful, unhurried pace.

Teaching was another part of Genis’s career. From 1980–1982 he was employed as a lecturer by Sydney College of the Arts, where he set up the lithography studio, and in 1997 was appointed Head of Printmaking at the National Art School, Sydney. During these years lithography still formed an important part of printmaking education. However, with the introduction of new techniques, many art schools have since stopped teaching lithography and training opportunities are no longer available[5].

In 1993 Genis moved his studio to Blackwattle studios at the end of Glebe Point Road, overlooking Blackwattle Bay, where he continued printing and publishing until the studios were pulled down to be replaced with apartments. In 1999 he relocated with his family to Possum Creek in Northern NSW, where he continued to print for some of the artists that he had worked with previously.

Genis has now retired from printing. As he tells it: he started his printing career in Australia with John Olsen and he finished with John Olsen[6].

Fred Genis sold his entire workshop to The Art Vault in Mildura, where one of the focal points of the gallery is the hundred-year-old lithography press.

His story is an extraordinary account of artist/printer collaboration in the post-war era of printmaking.


The exhibition Printer’s Proofs: From the Fred Genis Collection showed prints made by eminent Australian artists in collaboration with Genis over a period of 15 years. It was displayed at Tweed River Art Gallery, Murwillumbah, NSW, 26 March – 9 July 2010.

Fred Genis published many portfolios in partnerships that aimed to encourage artists to use lithographic processes and promote lithography to the public. In 1995 he established Sherman Genis Graphics in partnership with Sherman Galleries. He also worked closely with publisher Lou Klepac from Beagle Press.


Additional notes from Fred Genis’ conversation with Akky van Ogtrop at Tweed River Art Gallery, Murwillumbah, 28 March 2010.

[1] On the advice of a family friend, Genis went to the Amsterdam Graphic School to learn lithographic printing with Coen Hafkamp: ‘As soon as I saw the hand presses I realised that I liked this medium and would focus on becoming a steendrukker (stone printer) and not a machine printer … I realised that I liked working with [artists] and I had skills in adapting to each artist’s style’.

[2] In conversation, Genis credited Newsweek with this article but Julianna Kolenberg refers to it in Time in her introduction to From the Studio of Master Lithographer Fred Genis, a retrospective exhibition 1963-1995, Melbourne: Westpac Gallery, 1997.

[3] ‘At Tamarind I needed a chop mark. Most printers used two letters but I wanted something different. I like chooks so I thought: why not a chook? That’s how I have a little chook chop mark. At Tamarind it also was customary to acknowledge the printer in the description of the print, something which is becoming more recognised now in museums and galleries.’

[4] Colin Lanceley, transcript of paper presented at the First Australian Print Symposium, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 1989.

[5] ‘Lithography is disappearing at the moment at art schools. It is a medium which is hard to learn and it takes a long time … so the failure rate is high. With lithography you have to keep on doing it.

[6] ‘When we moved to Possum Creek… I thought that it was a good idea to make a print with John Olsen again. This time I decided that I would … take it easy. No large edition and no hurry. But the strange thing was that everything in the printing of the edition went wrong … Finally it clicked though, and I thought: I am going too slow. In printing an edition rhythm is very important. So I decided that instead of seven prints I would finish this one and quit. I told Rina (my wife) I have stopped printing, this is it and, yes, now I have to get used to this idea of retirement.’

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!

PCA Member Q&A: Emma Stoneman

Spinal Structure in Transformation [L2 + L3], 2015, archival inkjet print on cotton rag paper, 38.5 x 27cm (image size) 48.5 x 33cm (paper size). This print was selected for the 2015 PCA Print Commission. It is available to purchase through the PCA store.

‘I enjoy the meditation of exploring issues, ideas and concepts through a visual language, along with the challenges and restrictions posed by materials and the technical aspects of production that present themselves throughout the process.’ 

Emma Stoneman lives in Victoria

Why do you make art?

It seems so natural and ‘right’ to make art that I don’t really question what motivates me in my art practice. But for the most part, making art is a way of processing life and the world in a quiet and (wonderfully) solitary space – it represents time out of the ‘real’ world. I enjoy the meditation of exploring issues, ideas and concepts through a visual language, along with the challenges and restrictions posed by materials and the technical aspects of production that present themselves throughout the process.

What’s your relationship to printmaking?

While my original interest and arts practice was founded in traditional methods of printmaking, I have worked with digitally produced prints since the mid 1990’s. My current practice is anchored by photography with images undergoing extensive digital editing and reworking to the point of abstraction. Even working digitally I approach the work with a very process driven methodology and production is print based.

How did you get interested in printmaking?

I was first exposed to printmaking by an art teacher in the middle years of secondary school, and was immediately drawn to the process-driven nature of producing prints. Beginning with linocuts and collagraphs, I was totally hooked after doing a zinc plate etching in Year 10. After secondary school I went straight to university to study art and there was no question what studio to major in – it was printmaking all the way!

Who is your favourite artist?

My favourite art movements are Bauhaus and De Stijl, of which I could single out any one of the myriad artists, architects and artisans that produced such exceptional and ground breaking work during this period. And while I find many of those artists inspiring and among my favourites, my ultimate choice comes from a different time and genre completely.

Bernd and Hilla Becher have long been a source of interest and influence through their collaborative lifetime project of documenting industrial landscapes and the built environment. Their methodology, systematic approach, aesthetic, concept and resultant body of work with their trademark precision, composition and gridded groupings of beautiful images is admirable. Plus touring around Europe and North America in a Volkswagen Kombi Transporter van photographing factories, processing plants, blast furnaces, gasometers, silos, etc., has great romantic appeal to me!

What is your favourite artwork?

It is hard to pinpoint just one favourite artwork as the list of ‘favourites’ keeps developing and expanding over time. However, there are a few constants that are worthy of selection. Jessie Traill’s Building the Harbour Bridge series of etchings inspired me early in my printmaking studies and continues to resonate with me today on many levels. Roy Lichtenstein’s Preparedness is also a long-term favourite from my art school days. Robert Jacks‘s Metropolis series of paintings has been a more recent discovery for me, but one that has had a big impact.

But if I really had to name an outright favourite it would be the Schröder House designed by Gerrit Rietveld. Possibly an unusual choice for favourite artwork, but for me it encapsulates all that I love in art, architecture and design.

Where do you go for inspiration?

Often I turn to art, architecture and design books, galleries and museums for inspiration and motivation. But looking at the built environment, such as architectural, industrial and civil engineering projects through the viewfinder of my camera is when I feel most inspired.

What are you working on now?

I have a series of images underway using harbour cranes as the basis for a set of abstract compositions. This follows on from a series of prints that was completed last year based on the Erasmus Bridge. Both series of works utilise photographs captured on a ‘field trip’ around the Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands. These works form part of an ongoing investigation into the metaphoric comparisons between the built form and the human body. The crane and bridge images are a vehicle to explore and study the role of resistance, force and movement required for the human skeletal system to develop and sustain bone density.

I currently have a print included in the Thinking of Place exhibition which has toured to various venues in Australia and New Zealand. Its last showing is in my home town at the Post Office Gallery, Ballarat, from the 6 April to 21 May 2016.


An Interview with Pat Brassington

A page from the original article published in Imprint Winter 1998 Volume 33 Number 2 featuring Pat Brassington‘s In My Mother’s House, 1994, silver gelatin prints, each 65 x 70 cm, collection of the AGNSW.

‘Perhaps without my stint in printmaking I would not have found ‘my way’ around photographic processes and without this engagement perhaps I would not have been prepared to embrace and explore digital technologies.’

This interview was conducted by the Tasmanian writer and curator Diana Klaosen and published in the winter 1998 issue of Imprint, Vol. 33 No 2.

With the Fremantle Art Prize for 1998 soon to be decided, it is timely to survey the work of last year’s winner, Tasmania’s Pat Brassington, nationally and internationally known as a photographer, whose work increasingly utilises computer technology and digital printing techniques. Pat combines her visual arts practice with her work as Co-ordinator of the University of Tasmania’s Plimsoll Gallery, arguably Tasmania’s major non-commercial art space, at the Centre for the Arts in Hobart.

The Centre’s Digital Art Research Facility (known as DARF) has, since its inception only a few years ago, won numerous accolades and major awards and grants. It was set up to capitalise on and promote contemporary interest in the new technologies in art-making and to give staff and PhD students a well resourced, supportive environment to explore the possibilities of this significant new medium. The Centre has several students working at PhD level. Amongst School of Art staff who were instrumental in establishing DARF are printmaker Milan Milojevic, painters Geoff Parr and Mary Scott, computer specialist artist Bill Hart and Brassington herself.

As an undergraduate at the Tasmanian School of Art, Pat specialised in photography and printmaking and her subsequent highly acclaimed work has reflected both influences and incorporated aspects of both.

Her work exemplifies art-making in what Walter Benjamin famously called ‘the age of mechanical reproduction’ – it inherently engages with the idea of the multiple, moreover it is resolutely post-modern in its reworking of a multiplicity of images and its willingness to embrace the new techniques and make of them something original and resolved. I spoke to Pat recently about her current work and her influences.

DK: You are working as a printmaker, using digital imagery, at the moment – manipulating photographic images. Do you see yourself as a photographer still … or a printmaker these days? Given that there’s this ‘need’ to categorise artists …

PB: Neither really. I’m an artist who chooses to use certain media and methods that suit my purpose. I should probably stress the point, though, that I did study printmaking and photography simultaneously and at that time (eighteen years ago) tended to use each process with a distinctly different aim in mind. I did enjoy the etching process very much, I recall, but there came a point when I had nothing to ‘say’ to the ‘inert’ plate. I guess clicking a shutter took over.

I remember you saying (to me, some time ago) that whilst studying Photography you came across the work of Julia Margaret Cameron and thinking, This is better …

Yes, there was a hint of something in her work that attracted me. I was intrigued by Bellocq’s and Weegee’s output also. Contemporary photographers whose work I also liked at the time included Peter Peryer, Grant Mudford, Ralph Gibson and some of Lee Friedlander’s ‘interior’ works. Then came Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, Laurie Simmons, Barbara Kruger et al. But amongst all of this I was also particularly drawn to aspects of Surrealism and this abides with me still. I did not feel comfortable with the prevailing conventions, or the canons of photography if you like, that tended to dominate the filed at the time – ‘photography for the sake of photography’, the religiosity or the mystique about modelling the light, the laborious editioning of a fine print, the prevailing aesthetic criteria and concerns, and the role models offered to aspire to.

It seemed too prescriptive?

Yes, a rigid way of working. I think I was probably still carrying with me the desire to just get on with it, after the relatively gay abandon with which I had approached an aluminium plate with my burin and the concurrent acid bathings. But by doing all the ‘wrong’ things in photography I eventually landed on procedures and processes that best suited my needs. It was a frustrating time, but fortunately I was not discouraged by my supervisors and I began to see ‘a light at the end of the tunnel’. One thing that sticks in my mind from that time – I was seduced by the monochrome image.

In part, the procedures I felt most comfortable with, for example the manipulation of my negatives while developing and enlarging, making collages from my prints to rephotograph again, and sometimes again, under the copy camera I can now emulate without ‘vagrancy’, digitally.

What drew you to the digital process?

Curiosity. Its initial attractions were the ‘manipulative’ tools available in the Photoshop program. I like to collage images sometimes but collaging photographically is difficult and in my case I was not always convinced by the end result. My small output of digitally produced works thus far have all been ‘single images’ and all have used a collage technique. My photographic work consists mostly of multiple images, in which the interaction between images is a major factor.

Have I found a ‘better’ tool? I can emulate some of the photographic procedures I had adopted in the past using a scanner, a Photoshop program and an ink jet printer and I enjoy the process but I hasten to add that to get to the nitty gritty is no better or worse. Perhaps without my stint in printmaking I would not have found ‘my way’ around photographic processes and without this engagement perhaps I would not have been prepared to embrace and explore digital technologies.

There is one significant departure I should mention in relation to my digitally produced images, versus the preceding chemically based black and white photographic work, and that is the introduction of colour into the former. I would suggest that you do things by degrees. I have mentioned my sensitivity to black and white images – possibly an offshoot of an internalised visualisation technique on my part and I can’t imagine that I would abandon it but at the same time colour has its attractions. Maybe it’s a matter of ‘stepping lightly’ between the options.

How do you feel about the current state of digital art-making?

From where I am coming from, some of the 2-D work is awful. But you have to familiarise yourself with the ‘intent’ before judgement. Look, digital technology and processing is a fact of life. It’s not going to go away. Think about the precursors and how the invention of printing and then how the invention of photography radically altered our perception of the world.

Will you be continuing to work with the extraordinary and unsettling found images you are often noted for?

Why wouldn’t I? The world is paved with images and I’m into the business of visual communication after all.

As for subject matter and themes Pat wryly notes that she explores:

‘The depths of my soul’. It’s not driven by autobiography, it’s a combination of one way of interpretation tempered by a wider context. If I said I’m drawn to the ‘underbelly’ and not the darker side of the human psyche I could be getting closer to the point. But that is too cut-and-dried, too succinct and, if you think about it, doesn’t really get to the point either. So, I hope there’s more to it than that. I’m not as humourless a personality as that might suggest! I enjoy slippery slides.

For want of a better word, I’d say there’s almost black humour in your work – a quirkiness, anyway.

Yes. Black humour is hard to define and to pull off. Peter Greenaway immediately comes to mind here.

As for exhibiting, I’m aware that we don’t get many opportunities to see your work in Tasmania – although, having said that, I realise that you do have work in the current show at the University’s New Fine Arts Gallery.

The New Fine Art Gallery exhibition you refer to comprises recent works from artists involved with DARF. On reflection, I would suggest that somewhere, at some time, some of my favourite works have been displayed in Tasmania. I’ve just completed a large work that is going to Sydney for inclusion in the Telling Tales exhibition at the Ivan Dougherty Gallery. It’s a black and white photographic piece, by the way. I am amongst many Tasmanian artists who seek a national audience. The realities are these – Tasmania is a small place; it has a very lively art community and a lot of work is shown here. At the same time many Tasmanian artists recognise the need to exhibit in the wider arena. I do, and I’m sure others also always keep in mind that showing work in Tasmania and showing elsewhere are compatible aims.

Imprint readers will generally be aware of the Fremantle Art Prize and its importance as one of the main printmaking awards in this country, so we probably don’t need to explain the prize itself … but I’d be interested to know your reaction to winning it last year …

Well, I was very pleased that my entry had been selected for exhibition in the first place and then surprised but really delighted that Akimbo was a winning entry.

It’s a very subtle work – I’ve seen it in exhibition, it would be quite difficult to do justice to in reproduction, I think.



In March 2016, Pat Brassington was awarded the 2016 Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize alongside Sydney-based artist Jack Lanagan Dunbar. The 2016 Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize exhibition will be on display from 14 March to 14 May 2016 at the National Art School Gallery (NAS Gallery), Sydney.


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.