Gwenn Tasker: PCA Print Commission 2017

Above: Gwenn Tasker, Material Echo, 2017, etching, 30 x 40 cm (image) 56 x 76 cm (paper)

Gwenn Tasker discusses her work selected in the 2017 PCA Print Commission.

Q: What is your relationship to printmaking and how did you develop this interest?

GT: As long as I can remember I have been attracted to the aesthetics of prints. As a young teenager I used to go into the city in Brisbane and browse the printroom at the Verlie Just Gallery. Looking back, I can appreciate the kindness of Verlie in allowing a scruffy schoolgirl to spend hours in her gallery, and also in encouraging my interest. I followed a different career path after leaving school, and later lived in rural Queensland and Brazil, but always took advantage of opportunities to make prints where I could. In 2003, when we returned from Brazil, I began a degree in Fine Art at the Qld College of art, intending to major in lithograpy. However, I fell in love with etching and have remained entranced with both the processes and the possibilities ever since.

Q: How did you approach your submission for the PCA Print Commission 2017?

GT: This was a great honour, and I approached it with the desire to create an image which would reflect both my conceptual and aesthetic concerns. This image was inspired by a decaying railroad bridge that we saw recently in Tenterfield. The process of decay  made the ‘treeness’ of the original building materials more evident, which I thought was interesting as a reminder that all things emerge from nature and will return to nature.

Q: What are some of the foundation ideas that have guided the creation of the visual content of the work you submitted?

GT: I want my images to operate in a similar way to poetry. By placing various elements together I hope to evoke a feeling or sense of meaning. I am interested in exploring and reflecting the ways in which humans view the non-human world as this has real implications for how individuals and cultures treat the environment. I felt this bridge, a human construction being returned to nature, represented one aspect of this very complicated interaction between human activity and the non-human world.

Q: How does it relate to your broader body of work?

GT: This work connects to some previous bodies of work which looked at the consumerisation of nature, but in a tangential way. More recently I have started looking at the human desire for a better life, while engaging in behaviours which are harmful to the same world. I have been looking at Utopian literature and theory within which to framework these ideas. I find the Elizabethan period particularly interesting due to the parallels with our own times–discovery of new worlds, exploring,  discovery of new materials, new technologies. It is interesting that the Elizabethan period produced much Utopian literature, but in recent times there has been a growth in the exploration of dystopias across all the arts. I believe that action is difficult when one gives in to despair but collective human action to avert disaster is still possible.

Q: What were some of the technical challenges involved?

GT: I am currently exploring the use of semi-permeable grounds, and using everyday materials to produce images, in an effort to find materials which are both less toxic and more affordable, both significant concerns for my students. It is a lot of fun. The downside is that I am less familiar with these at the moment, and the grounds are less stable, so there was a bit of wrestling with the plate involved in drawing out the image.

Q: What other projects are you working on?

GT: I am currently preparing work for an exhibition in October with the Nightladder Collective. I have been a member of the collective since it formed in 2009.  The other members are Angela Gardner, Lisa Pullen, John Doyle and Maren Gotzman. The collective work differs to my normal practice, in that we value playfulness, incorporating chance and freedom from the constraints of developing a conceptual framework. It is a space within which I can explore media and mark-making, and there is often a flow-on effect to my other practice. I am also continuing to work on the images arising from my consideration of Utopias and Dystopias, in a body of work that I think of as Journeys of Longing and Despair.

Prints can be ordered at www.printcouncil.org.au

 

 

Joel Wolter: PCA Print Commission 2017

Above: Joel Wolter, Celestial Lane, 2017, edition 30, 22.4 x 30 cm (image) 44 x 48 cm (paper).

Joel Wolter discusses his work selected in the 2017 PCA Print Commission.

Q: What is your relationship to printmaking and how did you develop this interest?

JW: I have been printmaking for approximately 20 years and have worked as a printmaking technician, printer and teacher throughout that time. My interest and involvement in printmaking comes from a place of drawing and mark-making as I have always enjoyed drawing. I really see printmaking and particularly etching and drypoint as another opportunity to draw. The processes, techniques, technologies and history of printmaking also draws me to it and I really enjoy knowing that I’m basically using the same techniques and process that have existed for centuries.

Q: How did you approach your submission for the PCA Print Commission 2017?

JW: Primarily I wanted to keep the continuity going with my prints and continue exploring what I have been doing. So I guess I just applied for the PCA Print Commission and made something that I would have anyway and it’s just a bonus that the selection panel liked it enough to commission it this year. I created a couple of drawings from my own photographs in my sketchbook where I could work out the composition and settle on a view and the scale and then started working on the copper plate. I usually try to work from life as much as possible but it just seems too tricky to do in these places at times and from viewpoints such as the one in this etching.

Q: What are some of the foundation ideas that have guided the creation of the visual content of the work you submitted?

JW: To me this etching continues to explore a range of ideas that I have been interested in for a long time, but it depicts the urban subject matter of Melbourne laneways that I have only been drawing for about eight years or so. I find these gritty back-spaces fascinating and they lend themselves well to the etching and drypoint mediums on a range of levels. I see relationships between the marks, gestures and recordings that are found in these spaces and the drawing marks that are created on the etching plate. These spaces and subject matter are a good platform to explore broader ideas such as opposing forces, transience, equality and existential concepts both through the compositional elements and the textual components.

Q: How does it relate to your broader body of work?

JW: This work is one of several etchings that I have created over the last decade that depicts Melbourne laneways and buildings and it continues to explore similar concepts in the etching as well. Technically through the use of intaglio methods and aesthetically through the use of simple black ink, a bit of plate tone and the size of the etching, relationships are there as well.

Q: What were some of the technical challenges involved?

JW: There’s always the challenge of making the perspective work and look believable in these laneway prints as well challenges with the text and the reversing of things in the drawing stage. The printing is also challenging because it is quite a large edition size with a relatively tight timeline to complete and I also like to use plate tone and there is a bit of tricky wiping and highlighting in the print.

Q: What other projects are you working on?

JW: I have a few projects on the go at the moment. I am working on a few new large prints that will be launched down at the Queenscliff Gallery & Workshop in December and then hopefully in Melbourne, a Rona Green folio swap and exhibition, I am doing some custom edition printing for an artist and of course completing the edition of prints for the PCA Commission, so there’s plenty of printing to be done.

Prints can be ordered at www.printcouncil.org.au

 

 

Deborah Klein: PCA Print Commission 2017

Above: Deborah Klein, Pressed for Time, 2017, archival pigment print, 31.3 x 23.2 cm (image) 48.4 x 35 cm (paper)

Deborah Klein discusses her work selected in the 2017 PCA Print Commission.

Q: What is your relationship to printmaking and how did you develop this interest?

DK: Through the years my relationship to printmaking has shifted and changed. In the immediate post-art school period and for a long time afterwards, relief printmaking was my primary means of creative expression. For the last fifteen years or so, however, my work has come to be fairly evenly divided between printmaking, painting, drawing and, more recently, zines and artist books.

When I enrolled in art school in 1983, it was as a painting major. But almost from the start, I found myself drawn to printmaking and soon switched majors. There has always been a narrative element to my work that I sensed would be better suited to a more graphic medium. I was particularly attracted to the direct nature of single-block linocuts. For many years I’d admired the woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein and the German Expressionists. An investigation of the prints of Australian modernist artist Margaret Preston and her contemporaries also fuelled my growing interest in the medium.

Q: How did you approach your submission for the PCA Print Commission 2017?

DK: For the past two years I’ve been developing a body of work, collectively titled Leaves of Absence. It’s my first foray into archival pigment prints. I’m entirely self-taught, with no previous experience with or technical knowledge of the medium.

The first works in the series were made for what was supposedly a one-off project, but I found myself increasingly attracted to this completely new way of working, even as I was still feeling my way with it. In time, my confidence with and commitment to the medium grew and it has developed into a significant extension of my printmaking practice.

My three previous works selected for the PCA print commission (the first dating from 1986, the year after I graduated from art school) have each represented key developmental stages in my imagery. So the time felt right to submit a work that reflected its newest direction.

Q: What are some of the foundation ideas that have guided the creation of the visual content of the work you submitted?

DK: For the past six years I’ve been dividing my time between Melbourne and the Victorian Goldfields city of Ballarat, primarily in the latter, where I have a house and studio. During that time, I’ve become increasingly interested in the history of the area and its surroundings.

Pressed for Time is part of a body of work focusing on the absence of Chinese women from the goldfields during the Australian gold rush. The eucalyptus leaf in this work and all those in the series were gathered in the tiny Victorian Goldfields town of Newstead. The forest floor is still dotted with holes, the last traces of the 3000 Chinese miners who once lived and worked there. The miners’ plight on the Goldfields is well documented, but almost nothing is known about the women who remained in China. The silhouettes hand-painted onto each leaf represent one of those unknown women.

Q: How does it relate to your broader body of work?

DK: Lost and hidden histories are dominant themes in my work. Doomed to anonymity, my characters are sometimes masked, or stand with their backs turned to the viewer. More recently, as in Pressed for Time, they appear in the guises of Shadow Women. Silhouetted figures first appeared in my work in 2013, most notably in Tall Tales, a series of one-of-a-kind vertical concertina artist books.

Q: What were some of the technical challenges involved?

DK: At first everything about this body of work was challenging, as was completely uncharted territory. From the day I gathered the first eucalyptus leaves in Newstead, I worked intuitively. I had no set guidelines or instructions to work from and had no idea if the images would actually work as prints.

In the past, I printed most of my linocuts myself. On occasion I’ve worked with some wonderful master printers, but in every case the image was already pretty well resolved.

The digital prints were an entirely different matter. For a number of practical reasons, including necessary access to specialist equipment, I had no choice but to work with a printer, and in much closer proximity than I had in the past. I was already way out of my comfort zone and found the prospect incredibly daunting. I knew it was vital to find a printer who understood the ideas, aesthetic, and visual language of the work and wouldn’t be judgemental about my lack of experience in this area. Through a fortuitous recommendation from a fellow printmaker, I found just that in Luke Ingram and his colleague, Daisy Watkins-Harvey, at Visual Heritage in Abbotsford. I trust their judgment and have learned a great deal from them. They encouraged my fledgling efforts from the start and on a number of occasions have helped me to further refine the imagery during the crucial proofing stage.

Q: What other projects are you working on? 

DK: At present I’m working towards a solo show at Tacit Contemporary Art in Melbourne. Fallen Women, my first exhibition of archival pigment prints, will run from 29 November-17 December 2017.

Website: http://www.deborahklein.net/

Art blog: http://deborahklein.blogspot.com/

Book blog: http://mothwomanpress.blogspot.com/

Prints can be ordered at www.printcouncil.org.au

 

 

David Fairbairn: PCA Print Commission 2017

Above: David Fairbairn, AutoPortrait No. 20, 2017, etching and drypoint, 33 x 28 cm (image) 76 x 56 cm (paper)

David Fairbairn discusses his work selected in the 2017 PCA Print Commission.

Q: What is your relationship to printmaking and how did you develop this interest?

DF:  I studied for a BA Hons in Painting and Printmaking at the West Surrey College of Art in the UK during the 1970s, followed by further study at the Royal Academy Schools in London. It was at that time that I developed a lifelong interest in printmaking although back then it was all about the silkscreen print.

However it wasn’t until I emigrated to Sydney in 1981 that I returned to printmaking, but this time I explored the more immediate graphic potential of relief prints, particularly lino and woodcuts. I also collaborated extensively with Suzanne Archer, the  painter and later my wife, on a series of figurative relief prints cut in situ around Sydney both plein air and domestic interiors. This culminated in a touring survey show of our prints in 2000 entitled Hand over Hand 1982-2000 hosted by Campbelltown Arts Centre.

What survives of my early work in the UK demonstrates an early struggle with formal hard-edged abstraction inspired in part by the British artist Michael Moon and the Americans Ellsworth Kelly and Frank Stella. The impact of making figuratively inspired prints on my arrival in Australia prompted a major shift in my own practice towards a more figurative mode of expression particularly with portraiture.

The impact of many post-war British and European artists that I had looked at during my time in the UK including Leon Kossoff, Frank Auerbach and Alberto Giacometti (with their intense and gestural mark-making) were significant influences on my subsequent work.

By 1995 I was a fully committed figurative painter who also made a lot of drawings, so by that time I made the decision to concentrate more fully on my drawing practice. Initially these drawings were fairly straightforward charcoal and pastel works that over time involved more mixed media including a return to paint.

By 1999 I started to explore the etching process as this clearly complimented and enhanced my drawing practice with its reliance and emphasis on a predominately linear approach to constructing the image. By 2008 I was able to set up a printmaking workshop in the studio with my own press that has allowed me to work independently and in tandem with my drawing practice. This has resulted in more ambitious large-scale copper etchings.

Q: How did you approach your submission for the PCA Print Commission 2017?

DF: I made my first self-portrait copper etching in 2003. This has continued on to this day with Auto-Portrait No 20 the most recent work in that ongoing series which was successfully submitted for this year’s Print Commission 2017. I was also included in the 2012 Print Commission with another self-portrait.

As I work directly onto the copper plates from my sitters, sometimes it is more convenient to use myself as the model in the absence of my regular subjects.

Q: What are some of the foundation ideas that have guided the creation of the visual content of the work you submitted?                                                                                                                                  

 

 DF:   Most of my sitters are generally people I know well, with a preference for older faces and sometimes the infirm. I am committed to the exploration of the human physiognomy, a study of mood and character.

The artist/sitter relationship is paramount. The length of time spent with the subject, the day-to-day stopping and starting of a work as the series develops over time, even the subtle daily differences that exist in both subject and artist are factors that contribute to the interpretation of the work.

Ideas embodied in the work include contours, mapping and landscape. Think of the head as something you walk across.

Q: How does it relate to your broader body of work?

DF: As my major large-scale portraits rely essentially on a linear construction this reinforces the underlying abstraction in the mark-making. This is also something that I continue to explore in the etchings. An analogy would be to consider a building without cladding, an open-ended skeletal structure. In this way my portraits have had the skin stripped back so you can metaphorically enter into the head.

Q: What were some of the technical challenges involved?

DF:  With printmaking there is the delayed reaction between making the drawing on the copper plate and the final outcome. The mirror image is also a challenge. However, with the etching process I am interested in the unexpected transformative qualities of the etched copper line that is a result of the plate being immersed in the ferric chloride. The quality of the corrosive line is quite different to a drawn line on paper using charcoal or pastel. As I am seeking a more experimental and personal approach rather than being constrained by traditional methods, the challenge is how best to harness all these unpredictable factors inherent in my process. I also adopt some of my drawing processes of erasure and rebuilding in the plates, using sanding discs and power tools on occasion, which provides its own particular problems to overcome.

Q: What other projects are you working on?

DF: My current ongoing project is entitled Drawn to Print a travelling exhibition of my large-scale drawings, 210 x 183cms (2010-17) and recently completed large-scale copper etchings 120 x 106 cm (2015-17). The intention behind this body of work entailed revisiting some of my previous subjects, which had already been explored in a series of large-scale mixed media drawings and make a new series of large-scale copper etchings based on these sitters. In this way the differences inherent in both mediums could be observed. These were first shown in April 2017 at Tweed Regional Gallery.

Prints can be ordered at www.printcouncil.org.au

Drawn to Print is showing at Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery 20 October-3 December, Orange Regional Gallery 17 February-1 April 2018, Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery 13 July-8 September 2018.

Prints can be ordered at www.printcouncil.org.au

 

 

Locust Jones: PCA Print Commission 2017

Above: Locust Jones, Warren Ellis One, 2017, lithograph, 76 x 56 cm (image), 76 x 56 (paper).

Locust Jones discusses his work selected in the 2017 PCA Print Commission.

Q: What is your relationship to printmaking and how did you develop this interest?

LJ: Paper, drawing, immediacy, accidental mark-making, line, graphic, primal expressive… I first learnt printmaking in New Zealand and then when I attended the Sydney College of the Arts where I majored in printmaking. I was interested in the process of etching and learnt lithography with Fred Genis. My drawing has dominated my art practice but I have also had intensive periods working with woodcuts as well as etching and lithography.  I worked with linocuts in Johannesburg for the first time a few years ago but I think for me at the moment it is lithography where I can really feel my work developing.

Q: How did you approach your submission for the PCA Print Commission 2017?

LJ:  I always wanted to draw Warren Ellis and was speaking to a friend about it. Unbeknownst to me he knew Warren and emailed him on my behalf and when Warren was in Sydney he emailed me saying where the bloody hell are you…  apparently I was supposed to hook up with him but I was away, so we arranged to meet up in Melbourne the following month when he was performing with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. We met up at Lancaster Press (I had been working with Peter Lancaster since 2013). So Warren came out and played the violin for me while I worked on a series of plates. The print commission print, Warren Ellis One, was what came out of this collaboration. I only met Warren the night before, backstage after the performance.

Q: What are some of the foundation ideas that have guided the creation of the visual content of the work you submitted?

LJ: Immediacy, graphic line, painting and the lithographic technique I developed working with Peter, imagery, photographs that translate directly on to the plate. When I am making a print from an image I draw it upside down so I get a distorted shaky look. I don’t want it to look realistic so I employ techniques I use in my drawing process. I draw upside down and write my text back-to-front.

Q: How does it relate to your broader body of work?

LJ: I draw a lot of faces mostly from reproductions in newspapers and journals but also self-portraits and family members. Warren Ellis One was made from life while he was performing so it has immediacy to it. This immediacy and fast-paced application is typical of my practice.

Q: What were some of the technical challenges involved?

LJ: Peter Lancaster processed the prints and says my plates can be a challenge to process due to how I put down various concoctions. He says: ‘On the upside the results revealed and can give some velvety blacks in amongst well-positioned highlights… as with Motherwell’s lithos the challenge for the printer is to keep those blacks BLACK and not loose subtleties. A pleasure to peel back the cotton rag off your plates!’

Q: What other projects are you working on?

LJ: Currently working on two double-sided ten-metre vertical drawings for an installation work in the Sydney Contemporary art fair in September. I’m also working towards my forthcoming exhibition at Dominik Mersh Gallery, Sydney, in November. In the future I’m planning a trip to Fiji to work with Peter Lancaster in his new lithograph studio he is currently setting up called Coconut Editions. I’m also heading to the Middle East on a research trip to inform new work I am planning to make.

Prints can be ordered at www.printcouncil.org.au

 

 

Roslyn Kean: PCA Print Commission 2017

Above: Roslyn Kean, Night Fall 1, 2017, multiple block woodblock print (12 blocks handprinted with a baren), 29.5 x 46 cm (image 50 x 65 cm (paper)

Roslyn Kean discusses her work selected in the 2017 PCA Print Commission.

Q: What is your relationship to printmaking and how did you develop this interest?

RK:  Following undergraduate studies in Sydney at both the National Art School and the Shillito Design School I was accepted into postgraduate printmaking at The Slade School of Fine Art, London, in 1976.  At this time higher levels of studies in printmaking were not available in Australia and I was possibly one of the first to be awarded an MA in printmaking

Following 10 years in London actively engaged as a lecturer and printmaker at the Slade School I applied to do graduate research in Japan and was successful in being admitted into the Tokyo National University of Fine art as a research scholar to study traditional Japanese woodblock methods. My interest in printmaking has continued for over 40 years with a commitment to sharing the techniques of traditional Japanese printing methods and expanding the possibilities of hand-printing with the baren.

Q: How did you approach your submission for the PCA Print commission 2017?

RK: I created an image to be executed in several carved woodblocks working in the same manner as my broader body of other woodblock prints.  I usually work within traditional Japanese techniques with pigment-stained water. Due to the timeframe and edition size I used Akua inks and retained all the other aspects of hand-printing with a baren.

Q: What are some of the foundation ideas that have guided the creation of the visual content of the work you submitted?

RK: Combining elements of architecture juxtaposed with organic forms along with the softness of colours at nightfall and use of shadows to create voids of space.  The layers represent shifting times and cultures that have influenced my life from living in Japan. Trying to capture light in an image is also important and evoking the Japanese concept of ‘Ma’ , a pause in time or space.

Q: How does it relate to your broader body of work?

RK: It is part of my broader body of work as I expand on the complexity of multiple blocks of exacting registration and careful inking techniques.  This print takes elements of a much larger work that has just been shown in Serbia for the International triennial.

Q: What were some of the technical challenges involved?

RK: This print has been created from twelve defined blocks which are at times printed more than once to create the graduation of colour. One block took 4.5 hours to print into the run of 55 prints. The entire edition was built up gradually very differently to printing intaglio technique. Maintaining the same impression of the wood grain is very challenging and demanding as exacting amounts of inks must be applied and evenness of pressure applied by hand with the baren

Q: What other projects are you working on?

RK: I have been invited to represent Australia at the International Print Biennale in Duoru, Portugal, in 2018 so I am now working on a large diptych woodblock image for that exhibition. I am also participating in the Third International Mokuhanga Conference in Hawaii in September this year and have been selected as a finalist in the international juried exhibition.

Prints can be ordered at www.printcouncil.org.au

 

 

Peter Ward: ‘Sleepwalking Toward the Apocalypse’

Above: Peter Ward, Wrapping Paper Quilt, 2017, 160 x 190 cm, quilted linocuts
Right: Peter Ward, Studio Selfie Quilt, 2016, 160 x 150 cm, quilted linocuts
Below right: Peter Ward, Earth Mother Gets Sold A Pup, 2016, 50 x 60 cm, linocut
Bottom: Peter Ward, Wrapping Paper 1, 2016, 50 x 60 cm, woven linocut

Peter Ward discusses his new exhibition at Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery

Q: The title of this exhibition is provocative and frightening—what is the central idea driving the content of the work?

PW: Though I have a very pessimistic view of how the world is going I’m not an unhappy person. I think this is a condition shared by many of us and as such we are all sleepwalking towards the apocalypse. Life is so comfortable that we can ignore or rationalise away the catastrophic problems facing us.

Q: Your use of colour is rich and full of feeling—almost contrary to the darkness the idea of the apocalypse is likely to suggest. What is the foundation of this approach and how do you balance those two extremes of light and dark, thematically speaking?

PW: I enjoy the tension created between the rich, colourful surface and the uncomfortable imagery beneath. On another level I simply enjoy playing with colour for its own sake. With my work Post Modern Serfdom I felt that black and white was a more appropriate response to the image though a coloured version does exist as a quilt. The Serfdom quilt is an excellent example of an attractive surface partially obscuring something disturbing.

Q: How do you combine the needs of embedding a ‘message’ in your work with the spontaneity of the creative process, without becoming too didactic?

PW: I don’t actually feel a need to embed a particular message into my work. Each work should be taken on its merits and it’s not compulsory for the viewer’s interpretation to correspond with mine. The ‘message’ is something that grows organically along with the colour and composition as I collage ideas prior to creating a print. My approach is intuitive. I juxtapose images that appeal and allow a narrative to emerge. I’m building a vocabulary of images which coincidentally compliment my pessimistic outlook. The volcano as a representation of unbridled natural power is one example and the extension of this to having an eruption emerge in backyard suburbia is an idea that appeals on both a surreal and allegorical level.

Q: How does this exhibition fit into your broader oeuvre?

PW: I simply finish one print and start thinking about the next. Because of the limitations of the medium and my own limitations as a printmaker I’m not always completely satisfied with the results but every now and again I transcend these limitations and create something special. I guess my oeuvre contains a dozen or so of these. With this exhibition I pitched a particular theme and I’ve tried to stay within that but I don’t feel compelled to always talk about the apocalypse. Next year I will be in residence at the Art Vault in Mildura and it will be interesting to see how the landscape of the Mallee region affects my imagery.

Q: What particular challenges emerged during the making of these works?

PW: One of the best things about the space I’m in at the moment is I can be ambitious with my ideas. While this presents challenges and risks, it is self-imposed and necessary if I want to develop as a printmaker. On a more personal level my wife died just over a year ago and since then I’ve moved my studio south from the NSW Southern Highlands to Geelong. This was an unwanted challenge but working towards this exhibition has proved therapeutic.

Q: What technical innovations have you employed for this suite of work?

PW: Linocut is not a high-tech sort of process. Its simplicity and directness is what drew me to the medium in the first place. I only feel the need to be proficient enough to communicate my ideas. I do weave and quilt my linocuts but these aren’t new techniques and both ways of working radically change the surface of the print and add extra layers of meaning. The woven Wrapping Paper series is far stronger than the straight printed version and I feel the Wrapping Paper Quilt will be one of the strongest pieces in the upcoming exhibition.

Peter Ward: Sleepwalking Toward the Apocalypse is at Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery 25 August-15 October.

 

Diane Masters: PCA Print Commission 2017

Above: Diane Masters, Ocean Drifters, 2017, carborundum and solar plate etching, 38 x 57.5 cm (image) 38 x 57.5 (paper)

Diane Masters discusses her work selected in the 2017 PCA Print Commission.

Q: What is your relationship to printmaking and how did you develop this interest?

DM: Printmaking is a process-driven fine art and I think that really suits my personality. I love the fact that there are multiple options for image development. Creating an etching plate, lithographic stone, screenprint or linocut is always an exciting challenge but there is nothing quite like the joy of pulling the first proof to see if an idea is working and/or to revel in some unexpected outcome. After that, the repetition and rhythm of printing a series of prints is very satisfying.

My first introduction to print media was when I moved to Christmas Island in 1995. The Ran Dan Circus troupe was on the same plane, heading to the island as part of a four-month residency to develop activities with the island community for an arts festival during Territory Week. I quickly became involved in all aspects and particularly screenprinting T-shirts and promotional material. There was an active arts community on the island and all were willing to share their knowledge and experience.

With printmaking, you never really have to deal with the problem of having to confront a blank canvas. The very act of pulling an old print through the press, provides a physical starting point and often inspires new work.

Q: How did you approach your submission for the PCA Print Commission 2017?

DM: I have been collaborating with scientists for the past two years, looking at plankton. This proved to be an exciting project culminating in an exhibition Undercurrent at the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies  (IMAS) gallery. I really enjoyed the opportunity to use visual arts as a means of communicating the importance of science in understanding our impact on, connection to and dependence on a healthy environment.

The PCA commission is a continuation of that project and exhibition. The PCA image is focussing on the elegance of multiple jellyfish drifting as a group rather than images of a single discreet creature.

Q: What are some of the foundation ideas that have guided the creation of the visual content of the work you submitted?

DM: Working with scientists, I felt a sense of urgency about drawing attention to plankton, these amazing, minute creatures which play such a life-preserving role in the scheme of our life on Earth. Jellyfish are also plankton and are ‘canaries in the coalmine’, signifying the health or otherwise of a particular marine environment. Looking into the microscope to me, was like looking into deep space and that is the basis of the visual content, deep space and a need to draw attention to our life preservers.

Q: How does it relate to your broader body of work?

DM: My imagery is often drawn from my experiences of living in small rural and remote (island) communities. They address ideas of migration and resettlement, cultural shift and environmental impact.

One of the scientist collaborators in my recent work was my dive buddy at Christmas Island and when we dived together, we would ‘drift’ observing the minutiae of the ocean. Planktos means drift and that idea fits with my own movement through various landscapes, experiencing all they have to offer culturally, physically and emotionally.

Q: What were some of the technical challenges involved?

DM: My print has two layers. To create the richly coloured background layer as ‘deep space’, I needed to use a lot of ink. The drying time in winter, for that layer, proved to be a little stressful as the deadline loomed.

I often confess to be the messiest printer in the world so the production of a full print run of up to fifty prints in immaculate condition was challenging but also a great lesson.

Q: What other projects are you working on?

DM: I am currently completing work for a solo exhibition in September at Handmark Gallery in Evandale, Tasmania, called Elemental. The work is quite experimental in that I have placed multiple steel etching plates into the environment to be naturally etched by the four elements over a period of four-five months. This means I had plates hanging in trees (air), in saltwater and fresh water and also buried in the earth, compost and farmland. I also used fire on several plates for imagery based around that fourth element. This also means that many of the prints will be unique states as some of the plates have proven to be very fragile after five months in the elements.

I am participating in a group show called Vanishing Point in October in Hobart, which is another science/arts collaboration dealing with micro-plastics in the marine environment. This will also involve some awareness education programs being made available to schools during the course of the exhibition.

Prints can be ordered at www.printcouncil.org.au

 

 

Jason Jegels: PCA ‘Student Showcase’

Jason Jegels: Smack 2, 2017 screenprint, edition of 5, 61 x 44.5 cm
Below: now and then: 50 Years of the PCA Print Commission at Collins Place Gallery.
Artist Jason Jegels, studying visual arts at Monash University, talks about his work in the ‘Student Showcase’ component of the new exhibition now and then: 50 years of the PCA Print Commission. The exhibition  includes work for the PCA Print Commission 2017, with an accompanying exhibition of past PCA Print Commissions. The dedicated ‘Student Showcase’ features prints selected from eight leading tertiary institutions.
Imprint: What are some of the foundation ideas that contribute to your work in general?
JJ: In general, I working with social, political and ideological themes in my image-making practice. The way that people interact with ideas is very insightful and I enjoy understanding the way things work and exist in the world through my practice.
I see myself as someone who makes images as my practice, and a lot of the time the influences and muse for the images I create come from the topical and from pop-culture. However, the way I refine my images is through research. This research delves into the historical, theoretical and the anecdotal.
Imprint: Can you tell us something about the work in the exhibition and why/how you made it?
JJ: The work in the show is an exploration of the intersection of beauty and violence. Often the things we experience or are witness to are not black and white, but they exist in a state of flux. The image of the poppy is used as an icon for war, the flower is beautiful and its products are intoxicating. The faceted identity of this flower embodies the way that life is experienced and the way experience may be interpreted. I wanted to reproduce the beauty of the flower and invoke in the viewer their ideas of the how the poppy is beautiful or painful.
Imprint: What do you like about group shows?
JJ: It is a cliche to say that art is not made in a vacuum, however, the group show is a place where ideas, skill and technique are put in context, contrast and compliment to the work of others engaged in the making process. I believe that the end point of a work of art should always be in front of the eyes of the audience and the group show allows the audience’s eyes to be educated as to what other contemporary artists have to offer, as they view your work.
Imprint: What is especially appealing about printmaking to you?
JJ: Printmaking is appealing to me because it has a particular language and context that I enjoy interacting with. The history of information distribution and its ties to many forms of resistance makes the language of printmaking a very rich context to work within. Furthermore, the practice and process of making a print is an important part of how I labour over the analysis and refining process of what I produce and send out to the world. I feel accountable for the things I say with my work and printmaking’s process allows me the time to work with an image until I feel confident in its meaning and its potential reactions.  – Andrew Stephens

now and then, 50 Years of the PCA Print Commission is at Collins Place Gallery, Shop 19, Collins Place (near entrance to Sofitel), 45 Collins Street Melbourne, until 18 August.

The exhibition is a fundraiser for the organisation and all the works (except for early rare archive impressions) will be available for sale. The Print Commission 2017 will be available to order from 8 August.

Wimble’s Wayzgoose Armidale

Market day at the Wayzgoose; Clint Harvey and the Wimble Albion; David Frazer giving an artist talk.

Helen Cole experiences the joy of the Wimble’s Wayzgoose.

During the early days of letterpress printing it was traditional for master printers to reward their workers with a picnic known as a Wayzgoose to celebrate the end of summer and a return to working by candlelight. It was traditionally held on St Bartholomew’s day (24 August). The resurgence of letterpress printing has seen the return of the Wayzgoose, and in the USA they now often include the printing of a huge block with the aid of a steamroller.

The New England Regional Art Museum’s (NERAM) Wimble’s Wayzgoose was so-named because NERAM’s Museum of Printing is based around the collection of machinery and equipment of F.T. Wimble & Co., acquired in 1998. The collection can facilitate printing in a variety of ways. In addition to fourteen presses, a linotype machine, type cases with wood and metal type, composing sticks, furniture, casting boxes and guillotines, it includes a large number of typewriters, duplicating machines and a library of over 1000 volumes.

The long weekend (28-30 April) event began with an afternoon of talks about letterpress and related topics: printmaking, design and typography; the past, present and future of print. Helen Cole spoke on the use of text in artists’ books with particular reference to the letterpress work of English printer Ken Campbell and Katoomba’s Wayzgoose Press. Ross Burnett kindly lent from his Uralla bookshop several Wayzgoose Press books including Dada: Kampfen um Leben und Tod: a prose poem by Jas H. Duke, The terrific days of summer by Ken Bolton and Ockers: a poem by ∏O. These allowed those present to see up-close the phenomenal perfection of both book design and the printer’s art achieved by this press. Dr Benjamin Thorn, whose book Keep the Presses Running was launched during the weekend, discussed the history and prevalence of newspapers in regional NSW and Victoria. At one stage he performed something akin to ‘I’ve been everywhere man’ using the names of small towns publishing newspapers. The University of New England (UNE) Rare Book Collection was discussed and displayed by Ian Stephenson, UNE curator. Books shown included the remarkable Aurora Australis, the first book printed in Antarctica, illustrated with etchings and lithographs and with text printed letterpress. Clint Harvey, letterpress enthusiast and designer from The Bacon Factory in Brisbane shared his latest research on F.T. Wimble, Australia’s first ink manufacturer. Cinematographer, designer and distiller at Dobson’s Distillery near Armidale, Stephen Dobson expanded on his design vision for the Distillery’s print and online presence. Wayne Thompson, type designer from Australian Type Foundry in Newcastle gave a fascinating introduction to the differences between designing type for print and digital uses.

Over the weekend local artists took advantage of workshops offered by visiting teachers: David Frazer in wood engraving and Adele Outteridge in bookbinding. A screen printing workshop was presented by Joanna Kambourian and Darren Bryant from Ms Brown’s Lounge in Lismore.  Letterpress printing demonstrations allowed visitors to use the type and equipment from the F.T. Wimble Collection with Clint Harvey. The Black Gully Printmakers who work out of the Packsaddle Studio on the lower level of NERAM celebrated the arrival of their new etching press just in time for the Wayzgoose. They presented a pop-up exhibition of works created using the F.T. Wimble collection. On display in the Print Room Gallery was the New impressions exhibition of letterpress printing from the Hamilton Wood Type and Print Museum in Wisconsin.

The last day of the weekend was the picnic proper, with artist talks by local and visiting printmakers, a printmakers’ market and the apogee of the Wayzgoose – the printing of the 1.2 x 2 metre Thunderbolt woodblock designed by Okara Harvey and carved by Mark Pai. No steamroller being available, it was necessary to make do with a lawn roller. It gave a more regional Australian flavour. It was a community event with many people helping to ink the block, and when the lawn roller failed to make a strong enough impression, returning with spoons and barens to rub the back of the print. Four copies were taken before enthusiasm waned. A final impression was taken by the helpers dancing on the block; not the best print, though perhaps the one with the most spirit.

As the first of a planned annual series the 2017 Wimble’s Wayzgoose augers well for the next event, being informative, creative and convivial. Put it in your diary for 2018!

Helen Cole