Romancing the Skull: Art Gallery of Ballarat

Above: Jose Guadalupe Posada, Calavera del Cine, print on woven paper. Private collection
Right: Jose Guadalupe Posada, La Calavera de Cupido Cupids Calavera, c.-1905. Relief engraving on typemetal woven paper. Private collection
Below: Jose Guadalupe Posada, La calavera de Emiliano Zapata, 1912. Print on woven paper. Collection of David Hulme and Brigitte Banzige

Andrew Stephens finds out what is so alluring about skulls, with the new Art Gallery of Ballarat exhibition.

Curator Julie McLaren went to Mexico in 2015 to experience the Day of the Dead for herself. She knew the festival had the same origins as Halloween, but that the two events had branched off from each other to develop completely different meanings. During the visit, she went to the town of Aguascalientes, birthplace of Jose Posada (1852-1913), the artist now famed for his broadsheets of skulls, skeletons and cadaverous ghouls. She fell in love with his works.

In putting together the exhibition Romancing the Skull for the Art Gallery of Ballarat, McLaren was aware that Posada had been an artist whose life had ended with him being poor, and an unknown talent. It wasn’t until decades later that he was re-discovered by artists such as Diego Rivera. The grounding idea for Posada’s work was that although some of us are rich and powerful and others are not, underneath we are all the same because we have a skull and skeleton.

‘That is a really beautiful concept,’ says McLaren, who has taken that foundation through the entire exhibition, tying it in with ‘dance of death’ imagery from the Middle Ages and works as diverse as those by contemporary Australian artists Fiona Hall, Sam Jinks and Sally Smart.

One of the things McLaren admires in Posada is his ability to make what might be a grim concept into something that is fun: ‘He portrays everyday people going about their business as a skull—from a garbage collector and water collector to political figures and anyone else you can think of. When placed alongside more recent works, they have a really contemporary feel.’

They are such charming images that the enlarged versions on posters at the front of the Gallery have been attracting passersby to pose for selfies with them.

The gallery is showing 20 of the Posadas which are on loan from a Sydney collector-couple who McLaren says were more than happy to lend the original prints along with original woodblocks.

Another exhibition highlight is a woodcut print from the renowned Nuremberg Chronicle of 1493 depicting one of the earliest Danse Macabre (Dance of Death) images. ‘It is really playful, with skeletons and some rotting corpses having a jolly old time dancing over a grave. A number of other artists have replicated this playful aspect.’ There are specially commissioned works for the exhibition by Fiona Hall, Reko Rennie and Sally Smart, as well as works by contemporary Australian artists Sam Jinks, Rona Green, and Ben Quilty. Shaun Gladwell’s Virtual Reality work Orbital Vanitas 2016, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, is also showing.

McLaren’s excitement in curating the show was amplified by her awareness that in popular culture, we can buy almost any product with a skull on it. ‘The skull used to have so much meaning to it as a “memento mori” and knowing that you will die; this has been diluted in a way, and people are now attracted to the symbol as one of rebellion,’ she says. ‘It is a safe way of rebelling, wearing skull clothing.’

As she moved through the curatorial process, however, McLaren found that what she had initially interpreted as the primary symbolism she associated with the skull—death—began to change. ‘I have really turned around completely and now see it as an image that represents life.’ After all, the “memento mori” tradition wasn’t intended to make us think about death in a negative way but to remind ourselves that because we will inevitably die one day, we should therefore make the most of life while we are living it.

‘We live such fast-paced lives and we are always connected to social media and we are always having to do so much,’ McLaren says. ‘The skull could be seen as a reminder to sit back and think “Am I living my best life”?’ – Andrew Stephens

Romancing the Skull is at the Art Gallery of Ballarat until 28 January.

Gerhard Richter: ‘ATLAS: Overview’ at GOMA

‘Gerhard Richter: The Life of Images’ Exhibition Curator Rosemary Hawker (right) and QAGOMA Curator Geraldine Kirrihi Barlow at the Gallery of Modern Art, 2017. Photograph: QAGOMA.
Right and below:
Installation view of Atlas overview 1962-ongoing. Collection: Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, Germany © Gerhard Richter 2017. Featured in ‘Gerhard Richter: The Life of Images’ at the Gallery of Modern Art, 2017. Photograph: QAGOMA.

Andrew Stephens discovers an enormous room at GOMA in Brisbane that offers a rare insight into the working mind of renowned German artist Gerhard Richter.

The idea of the ‘edition’ is something that Gerhard Richter has contemplated continually throughout his 50-plus-year career. In the book Gerhard Richter–Unique Pieces in Series, Hubertus Butin writes that in his painting editions, photographs, prints, drawings and multiples, Richter has developed various ways of variegating individual works in their appearance.

While painting is his primary form of practice—hence the focus of the stunning new exhibition Gerhard Richter—The life of images at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art—Richter is also interested in showing audiences how he develops his ideas.

At the centre of this exploration is ATLAS, a collection of more than 800 panels of images that Richter has been archiving since the 1960s. First exhibited in the 1970s, this collection of photographs, press cuttings and sketches was arranged on loose pieces of paper. It incorporated family photos, Holocaust images, photos Richter has taken of landscapes and still-lives, and much if it has been source material for his paintings.

Stored at Munich’s Lenbachhaus art museum, ATLAS has become too fragile to travel, even though it has been exhibited in part a number of times. To get around this, GOMA has managed to present ATLAS: Overview, a collection of about 400 images drawn from the original. It is, in essence, an edition—and Overview is an idea Richter applauds and has been heavily involved in curating. Curators Geraldine Kirrihi Barlow and Rosemary Hawker say they have been thrilled with the results.

Dr Hawker, a Senior Lecturer, Fine Art, Griffith University, says the extraordinarily high-quality reproductions of the original ATLAS are just a fragment of Richter’s encyclopaedic sampling of the images in his life in the 20th and 21st centuries.

‘Within that he has given us his sampling and refinement of the project,’ she says. ‘The fact that this is his edit of ATLAS is in some ways very curious. He has organised it and some of the juxtapositions are quite startling. Some of the imagery is quite confronting.’

Dr Hawker says the organisation of all these images is a circle from start to end, with some of the more confronting images at the start, moving through the family photographs and clippings and more easily consumed landscaped images. ‘Yet there is no way of describing ATLAS because it is so deeply based in diversity,’ Dr Hawker says. ‘It is so much about a view into Richter’s thinking. Some of the images have tape and paint and dirt on them: it is very much like an artist’s notebook.’

Because the original ATLAS is so large and cumbersome, galleries have in the past found it almost impossible to exhibit. Over time, some of the magazine clippings have yellowed and become brittle, even though Richter is a careful artist who monitors such things. As time has passed, the curators and conservators at Lenbachhaus have found it very difficult to deal with requests to exhibit it. ‘Nobody wants to display the whole thing because it is so enormous,’ says Dr Hawker, ‘but everybody wants a little bit of ATLAS for their Richter show.’

Thus the museum devised a large reproduction of the entire ATLAS and published it in a four-volume set. While Richter has decided that ATLAS itself does not travel anymore, GOMA managed to negotiate this new work, the edition called ATLAS: Overview. ‘This is the first time it has been shown and there is only one full edition in the world.’

While this edition will go on to show elsewhere, Dr Hawker says the original remains an organic work that will grow. ‘It was expected that Richter would put an end date on it but the still hasn’t done that. He can’t let go—which is good for us.’

At 6PM on Wednesday 29 November, Charles Green, Professor of Contemporary Art, School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne, will give a lecture focusing on memorisation and the information retrieval embodied in the concept of an artistic atlas, drawing upon ATLAS: Overview in ‘Gerhard Richter: The Life of Images’. GOMA | CINEMA B |

Australian Print Workshop: Print Fair

Clockwise from above:
Lisa Roet, The mark of no human hand I, etching: hard ground printed from 1 plate. Image size: 120cm × 90cm, paper size: 136cm × 101.5cm. Drawn on the plate by the artist and printed by APW Senior Printer Martin King at Australian Print Workshop, Melbourne, 2011.
Rick Amor, Lost Time, stone lithograph: printed from 1 stone. Image size: 51.5cm × 64cm, paper size: 56cm × 76cm. Drawn on the stone by the artist and printed in an edition of 15 (plus proofs) by APW Printers Martin King and Chris Ingham at Australian Print Workshop, Melbourne, 2014.
Laith McGregor, ‘ROOTDOWN’, photo-lithograph: printed from one plate. Image size: 38cm × 27.5cm, paper size: 56cm × 38cm. Image created by the artist and printed in an edition of 20 (plus proofs) by APW Printers Martin King and Chris Ingham at Australian Print Workshop, Melbourne, 2013.

The Australian Print Workshop Print Fair is being held this weekend, 18-19 November. APW Director Anne Virgo OAM discusses ways in which the fair will celebrate fine art printmaking.



Q: What is the history of the APW Print Fair and what are its broad aims?

AV: All of Australian Print Workshop’s (APW) activities – supporting artists, education programs and special projects – reflect in part a commitment to finding new ways to engage with the public and broaden interest in and knowledge about printmaking. The 2017 APW Print Fair is the second fair APW has held in recent years, designed to attract new and existing audiences.

In 2014 APW presented the inaugural APW Print Fair which provided opportunities for 14 individual artist/printmakers to display, discuss and sell their work. Artist-run stands were set up throughout the APW’s Open Access Studio, and visitors were able to go ‘behind the scenes’ in our world-class facilities, see print demonstrations, and experience a pop-up exhibition at APW Gallery.

In 2017, printers are the focus of the APW Print Fair, providing a rare opportunity for the public to engage with representatives from leading fine art printers from Melbourne, interstate and overseas. Visitors can wander through the APW Print Studio, see printing demonstrations and visit the Print Fair stands to view (and hopefully buy) original fine art prints.

The APW Print Fair is, at its heart, about promoting an understanding and appreciation of fine art original limited edition printmaking. We hope to educate the public to understand and appreciate the difference between original fine art limited edition prints and signed reproductions.

Q: Who are some of the participants in the fair?

AV: Representatives from Albicocco Printing Workshop (Italy), Cicada Press (Sydney), Negative Press (Melbourne), Sunshine Editions (Melbourne) and, of course, Australian Print Workshop will all have Print Fair stands.

Q: What else will visitors experience while attending?

AV: In addition to seeing contemporary original limited edition fine art prints created by these print workshops, visitors will be able to learn about the printers’ approach to working with artists, see linocut and etching print demonstrations, and view works in APW Gallery by contemporary Australian Artists made in collaboration with APW printers. There will be hundreds of works for sale and the opportunity to buy affordable original fine art prints.

 Q: How does the fair reflect the ethos of APW?

AV: APW is committed to promoting printmaking as a progressive contemporary art form. We are fortunate in Australia to have many skilled printers working with great artists to make great prints, and we are excited to play a role in promoting their work.

Q: Does the fair have an educative role about the world of print for the more general, non-artist visitor?

AV: The APW Print Fair will feature educative displays with the tools and equipment used in lithography, etching and relief printing, and print demonstrations will be happening throughout the weekend. Everyone is welcome to attend the APW Print Fair, whether they have limited or advanced knowledge of printmaking, there will be something to learn for everyone.

APW Print Fair is at  Australian Print Workshop, 210 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy,

Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 November, 10am-5pm each day. Free Entry.


Postcard from San Francisco: Simone Tippett

Clockwise from above: The print folio being collated; rainbow flags flying in San Francisco; a snippet of Amy Milhinch’s print Shak-Shake for the ‘Political’ portfolio; a snippet of Leo Greenfield’s print The Forcefield from the ‘Skin deep’ portfolio; making the folios; Simon Tippet.


Adelaide’s Simone Tippett reports on her printmaking odyssey to San Francisco.

The International Print Run was a surprise crowdfunding gift from the Adelaide printmaking community last year, one which enabled me to tour print studios and galleries in San Francisco in September.

It was a gift that was as invigorating and inspiring as it was generous, and one for which I am so grateful. (You can read more about the crowdfunding project here – – I’m still slightly in shock!)

For me, a big part of the trip was paying the gift forward. It was also about connecting with printmakers across the world in the wake of the Trump election. (The crowdfunding gift was given in the same week that the world woke in shock to learn Donald Trump had been elected.)

With the International Print Run Folios, I took – and gave away – 11 folios of themed prints to fantastic printmakers, studios and galleries in San Francisco. The gift folios went to folk in San Francisco who are quietly making fantastic things happen in their printmaking communities – a no-strings gift to see what would happen – and the reception was fantastic.

The lucky recipients of the four themed folios are:

Message in a Bottle folio

Robynn Smith of Blue Mouse Studio & MPC Printmakers

Noah Lang of SF Electric Works (at the Minnesota Art Project)

Cheryl from the San Francisco Centre for the Book who spent hours showing us around

Political folio

The San Francisco Centre for the Book

Fanny Retsek, printmaker

Max Stadnik from Tiny Splendour

Skin Deep folio

Brett of M&H Type & Arion Press

Denese Sanders of Open Ground Studios

Dan Hendel, fabulous personal tour guide & print collector

Nature/Nurture folio

MPC Printmakers

Sam Vaughan of Dead Duck Press

The folios are beautiful. They are glorious collections of colour and life, generously and humbly presented. In all, there are four themed folios, each consisting of 10 x A3-sized original hand-made prints from 41 Adelaide artists.

The folios will be exhibited in several Adelaide locations later this year: at the new #6Manton Gallery in Hindmarsh and Artlab Australia in the Adelaide CBD. The #6Manton opening will launch the gift of folios back to all participating artists. (Stay tuned for dates and further information… )

If you’d like to see more of the International Print Run, or my trip to San Francisco, check out the following Instagram feeds: @internationalprintrun (folio stuff), @unionstprint (general print/art stuff) and @tipchick (for a more personal response to San Francisco), plus the Facebook page

The project was such a success that I hope to make it annual thing. My plan is to organise several beautiful, meaningful folios each year for Adelaide/South Australian artists to be involved with. Which means, every year, one or two printmakers travelling overseas have a no-strings gift to take with them… thereby spreading the Adelaide Printmaking Love far and wide. Yay!

And San Francisco? Wow. What a fabulously vibrant, diverse and liberated city. There is so much printmaking, and so many great studios and galleries. You all should visit!

Simone Tippett is the founder of Union St Printmakers, where she teaches a variety of printmaking techniques. As an artist, she works with drawing, printmaking and photography.

Vale: Joan McClelland

Above: Joan McClelland, circa 1930.
Below: Joshua McClelland Print Room catalogue cover, 1964, featuring Pablo Picasso’s
Tancerze (Flecista, koza I tancerz), 1959.

Following the recent death of the much-admired art world figure Joan McClelland, aged 104, we republish the PCA’s tribute to her life’s work, which first appeared in Imprint last year (vol.51 / no.3, Spring 2016).

Interview by Marguerite Brown.

Joshua McClelland opened the doors of The Little Gallery at 172 Collins Street Melbourne in 1927. Some years later he and his wife Joan McClelland established the Joshua McClelland Print Room with a focus on prints, Chinese porcelain, and paintings amongst other fine and decorative arts. When Joshua passed away in 1956, Joan continued the gallery and today this family business operates in association with Rathdowne Galleries at 310 Rathdowne Street, Carlton. I met with Joan McClelland, and her daughters Philippa Kelly and Patricia Williams, for an insight into the remarkable history of the Joshua McClelland Print Room, Australia’s oldest continuously operated gallery.

Joan McClelland: My father was interested in prints. He’d been in Oxford in England, and I think it was probably in the back of my mind all along.  We had a small collection of prints, but you can cover the walls overmuch. I think my mother probably kept him in control with his print collecting.

My real interest was in Australiana – the prints from the early voyages and early topographical prints. In my view the pre-eminent Australian print is not one of the early Sydney views, but the marvellous West Australian panorama Panoramic view of King George’s Sound, part of the colony of Swan River a print after Robert Dale, 1834. I first saw the Dale in Sir Russell Grimwade’s house and lusted after it. Some years later I found it at an Antiquarian Book Fair for $2,000. Being a trader, I traded it on, regrettably as it has since sold for as much as $40,000.

The Australiana market is a wayward business with highs and lows. I think you could say that we would not have survived if we had dealt only in prints. When Australiana was in the doldrums, a few good paintings could save the day, or a piece of Chinese porcelain could find a good home. Prints were our steady diet, but the paintings could put the icing on the cake.

I lean to anything with an Oriental flavour, and I had some good tutoring in Chinese porcelain through both my husband Josh, and some dedicated collectors. We have continuously had good exhibitions of Japanese woodblock prints. I did travel to Japan and became very interested in these astonishingly skillful, richly detailed works of art.

An exhibition of Japanese prints from Geraldine Hall’s collection sold out immediately due to a member of the Japanese consulate who took the red stickers from us and placed them firmly on twenty-five prints in the first ten minutes, causing a rush by other collectors. We hang Japanese prints three deep in a ladder frame of natural wood, which is very effective and means they need only to be carefully mounted to size.

There were a group of talented women making adventurous prints whose works seemed to have been ignored. Margaret Preston was ahead of her time. Violet Teague and Geraldine Rede had made the first hand printed woodblock book in Australia, as early as 1906. We were selling the early Australian women printmakers later, in the 80s and 90s, and it was at this period there was a growing realisation of the important role they played. The main galleries, the national galleries, were anxious to represent all the women artists, and they did buy a lot from us.

Locally, we persuaded Helen Ogilvie that there really was a market for her tiny wood engravings, which she had put away for many years, and we sold them regularly over quite a long period.

There were much fewer galleries when we started. I mean there were the main galleries, like the Australian National Gallery and the Sydney Gallery [AGNSW] and so on, but there were not so many private galleries, very few in the beginning.

Prints were something that young people could afford. They couldn’t afford paintings, and even the main galleries were very happy to get things at a more reasonable price than going to auction and buying them there. Often they would find something quite special from us. We sold an awful lot to galleries; the West Australian Gallery, the Adelaide Gallery, the Darwin Gallery, and Queensland.  If you got something interesting and that you knew was rare, you’d immediately think of a gallery or a few private collectors. But often we’d think, well the gallery ought to have this, it’s important and they haven’t got it and then at least people can go and see it on the walls. It was a very interesting time.

We put out regular illustrated catalogues. They were a good record of the things that we did. We’d post these out and we’d be very disappointed if a few galleries didn’t ring up the next day and say we want this and this … because we did get some very interesting and some rare things, which we were very happy to have, and the galleries were very happy to have. They were quite small catalogues compared to how people produce them now.

We lived in a time of great change with so many Europeans coming here (after WWII). It changed the whole of society, and also the art. You can think of a huge influence of all sorts of people. The Dunera Boys, Hirschfeld-Mack and so on – there were fascinating waves of influence. We’re much more civilised than we might have been otherwise.

In 1979 Conzinc Riotinto leased me the front first floor of 105 Collins Street, which they intended to demolish in due time and rebuild a high-rise tower. In the end we were there for six lovely years. The building was only partly occupied and we could change anything we wanted in our area. We knocked an extra doorway in and we had three connecting rooms across the front and another behind, with a further storeroom. They were the best years; what was more, we had the Print Council of Australia in the basement for company.

I do believe there should be room in Melbourne for a really orthodox print shop, dealing in good etching, and early Australian historical prints, etc. The London gallery I would like to be equated with is the Fine Art Society in Bond Street, which has an interesting and varied stock of minor artworks, always with something unexpected and surprising.

Today, I believe there is a climate of great respect for the print among contemporary artists, but less so with collectors. I have always felt the need to encourage younger printmakers to exhibit, which we do with varying success.

The current exhibition is of digital drawings. Printed – it’s a different thing all together. Chips Mackinolty, the artist, says it takes him fifty to sixty hours to do a drawing in endless marks. It usually takes a printmaker to really appreciate the work.

Now I’m just over 100 I’m not driving my car, so these two [Joan’s daughters] pick me up most days to come in here, which is very kind of them and probably an awful bore.


Patricia Williams: We get in serious trouble if we suggest a holiday, that’s off the list!


Elisabeth Cummings donation – NERAM

Above: Elisabeth Cummings, Dark Bush, 2010, coloured etching, edition of 30, 20.5 x 24 cm
Right: Elisabeth Cummings, Termite Mounds, 2009, etching, edition of 25
Below: Elisabeth Cummings, Self Portrait, etching, 5 x 5 cm, edition of 10

Curator Sioux Garside discusses the work of Elisabeth Cummings and her adventures in print and works on paper.

Q: Many people know and admire Elisabeth Cummings for her work as a painter. How does her history with works on paper connect with her broader oeuvre?


SG: Elisabeth has been experimenting with printmaking processes for many years making etching and aquatint at Cicada Press in Sydney.  Monoprinting has also been part of her evolving practice since the 1990 and I’ve included as many of her sketchbook drawings as possible. These give us an intimate and surprising insight into the subjects that appeal to her sensibility. The drawings and etchings demonstrate her consummate graphic skills; a quirky sense of constructing compositions and an ability to work on a smaller scale with speed and a vigorous fluent line.


Q: How did the exhibition come about at Drill Hall, and what sort of parameters did you set in curating it?


SG: The directors of King Street Gallery felt it was timely to have a retrospective to show Elisabeth’s important contribution to the advancement of abstraction and landscape painting in Australia.  There was also an aim to satisfy requests for a fully illustrated monograph on her work from private collectors and institutions.


Many years ago I worked closely with Elisabeth on her first survey at Campbelltown Art Gallery in 1996. That survey had presented Elisabeth with useful insights and an overview of what had been achieved from her earliest work as a young graduate from East Sydney Tech in the late 1950s, to the work made during a decade overseas in Florence, up to her break-through paintings of the early 1990s. Viewing the chronological development of her painting confirmed Elisabeth’s confidence and future direction and consolidated her growing reputation in Sydney as a luminous colourist and gestural expressionist painter.  Wedderburn spring, 1993 a highlight in the 1996 show would later be included in the big survey of Australian painting at the Royal Academy in London curated under the aegis of the National Gallery Canberra in 2013.


Essentially with Interior landscapes my aim was to show Elisabeth Cummings as the great painter she is, and include as many of her iconic large-scale paintings of interiors and landscapes as feasible. Since most of her paintings are held in private or corporate collections [with some notable exceptions], a major body of her work is rarely seen. I also thought it important to include her printmaking and ceramics, to demonstrate how a artist of maturity and insight can transfer an embodied form of painterly abstraction that is inspired by exterior or interior spaces, into vastly different mediums.


When asked to host the survey exhibition Director Terence Maloon immediately agreed. The depth of his scholarly knowledge provided an insightful consideration of the European influences of Bonnard and Vuillard on Elisabeth’s development, which gave us the title for the show. I know he was delighted by the irresistible public response to her exhibition at the Drill Hall Gallery ANU.


Q: What are some of the print-based works in the exhibition and what is most interesting about them for you?


SG: Printmaking offers another way of interpreting, it is another way of creating an image and Elisabeth’s approach to making a print is exploratory. She describes the medium as slower and more challenging. “At times it’s frustrating because it’s not as immediate as painting, one has to work through several processes. With printmaking it is not so easy to eliminate something you’ve created, so that slows the process down. And sometimes it works better in the print than the painting”.

She works directly on the plate, firstly making a line drawing in crayon then scraping and scratching over and over with tools, searching for a particular patination of aquatint and scribbly deeply bitten lines. Arkaroola landscape 2005, and Evening termite mounds 2011 are compelling examples of her feeling and experience in the landscape, evoking the texture of place and mood. For me there is also a subtle expressed concern and wonder for the earth and its fragile living ecology with her imagery of birds and metaphoric rocks and mounds eroded over eons by the elemental forces of wind and rain into sandy deserts. Elisabeth camps in remote places in the Kimberley and the Flinders ranges to make her drawings and gouaches. The resulting paintings may condense a panoramic vista, be attuned to the vibrating effects of light, heat and colour and are suggestive of the infinitesimal detail and rhythms of nature.


I enjoy her interpretation of light and shadow and contemplative feeling achieved by wiry lines and earthy greys and velvety blacks tones in Dark bush 2010. Her unique combination of wit and structure is compelling for the lively way she combines different perspectival views of a motif in a painting or an etchings such as Hill end glimpse 2009.


Q: Cummings has an interesting history in the arts – can you tell us some of the highlights of her experiences?

SG: There are so many highlights. She has always been a peripatetic artist and observant seeker inspired by remote and beautiful places of Australia, the Simpson desert, Lake Mungo, the Pilbara and the Kimberley. Walking with traditional Indigenous elders at Elcho island and observing the monsoonal tides changing the waters muddy yellow inspired After the wet Elcho island; travelling by boat down the Darling river with her sister and exploring Lake Eyre and the inland deserts led to her monumental canvases Edge of the Simpson 2011 and River bend 2008.

Equally importantly to the feeling and authenticity of her work is a constant reflection on subjects close at hand in her studio and a time-based focus on her surroundings in all seasons and lights from drought to flooding rain. She has worked for over forty years in the bush surrounded by sandstone and tall eucalypts at Wedderburn adjacent to the Dharawal national park in south west Sydney.

Right now Elisabeth is teaching a workshop in Morocco and exploring the vibrant colour of Fez and the Atlas mountains. I long to see her sketch books when she returns.


Q: How did the donation of an archive of 85 prints and etchings by Cummings to NERAM come about?

SG: The donation came about when Robert Heather the Director of NERAM was visiting King St Gallery’s store and expressed interest in acquiring a drawing of Elisabeth‘s studio. NERAM was considered an appropriate institution for the proposed gift as they want to build their print collection and were keen to host Elisabeth’s survey retrospective.  The art museum has a Museum of Printing and they have collected artists’s prints since the Hinton Bequest last century. The gift of Elisabeth’s etchings is intended to be ongoing because the aim is to have a complete and representative archive of her prints held in one public institution. This will be a focus point for further research.

Elisabeth Cummings: Interior Landscapes is a Drill Hall Gallery touring exhibition and is at the New England Regional Art Museum until 4 November. It then travels to Orange (from 17 November) and Newcastle.

Negative Press: a new era

Top: Printing with Simryn Gill, Malaysia, July 2017
Right: John Spiteri, Actress & Actor, 2015, etching printed in four colours from four plates, 32 x 23.5 cm, edition of 16 + 3 APs. Published by Negative Press.


Below: John Nixon, Untitled, 2017, screenprint printed in one colour from one stencil, 79 x 63 cm, edition of 8 + 3 APs. Published by Negative Press


Bottom: Negative Press studio

Trent Walter discusses a new move for the much admired Negative Press.

Q: Negative Press has been forging a significant presence in the printmaking landscape—what is the history of this venture?

TW: I’d never thought of starting my own studio until my friend Franck Gohier planted the seed in my brain in 2006. I also spent a formative time working at STPI in Singapore in 2007–08 which made me want to continue my collaborative practice on returning to Australia. Returning home, it seemed that the job I wanted to do didn’t exist, so through necessity I started Negative Press in 2009. Since then, Negative Press has operated as a custom printing and publishing workshop. The publishing projects have included prints and artists’ books, which are both areas of great interest for me, and this is becoming the greater focus of the studio.

Q: What are the advantages and potential outcomes for the new studio space?

TW: The advantages of the new studio are many: more space to work in; a showroom to launch published works and to host occasional exhibitions; and a space to run workshops. My brother, Andrew Walter, is an award-winning architect and he has helped me design the space to remain flexible to the various endeavours that Negative Press engages in. Most importantly, the advantage has been to transfer what was a rather clandestine operation into something far more public and visible.

Q: Who are some of the artists Negative Press has been working with and what are their various areas of interest in terms of print processes?

TW: The biggest projects that have seen completion this year have been with Brent Harris, Simryn Gill and John Nixon. After making the PCA fundraiser print in 2015, Brent and I started developing a five-print series titled The Other Side that Brent launched at Tolarno Galleries recently.  These were all photopolymer gravure and screenprints. The interaction between a tonal image (photpolymer) with the flat planes of the screenprint highlight the strengths of each process.

Simryn’s project was, like our 2016 project Pressing In, concerned with relief printing. We took a full impression of a coconut palm on a farm in Malaysia near the intersection of the states of Johor Bahru and Malacca. The tree was inked with various sized brayers and printed using bone folders onto virtually indestructible washi. It was the best way we could record as much of the surface of the tree as possible.

John Nixon’s screenprints and etchings have developed over the past 18 months. We’re up to 32 etchings so far, and two screenprints. John’s interest, I believe (and this can be attributed to many artists’ engagement with printmaking) is to see how printmaking might filter the concerns of his broader practice. Specifically, the interaction of line, plane, colour, form, texture etc. as it occurs in the medium of printmaking as opposed to his other areas of practice, which include painting, collage, photography and experimental music.

Q: What projects are you envisioning for the future of Negative Press?

TW: After the studio launch and release of John Nixon and John Spiteri’s etchings and screenprints, Negative Press will be participating in the Australian Print Workshop Print Fair on 18-19 November at the APW. Concurrent to this, the focus will also be on finishing a new group of screenprints with Julia Gorman. Into the not-so-distant future, there will be new projects with Elizabeth Newman, Kathy Temin, Rose Nolan and Emily Ferretti. They are all artists I’ve worked with before and in the short history of Negative Press I’ve continued to work with a relatively small group of artists, adding one or two each year. It mirrors the activity of the studio, like a pebble dropped into the water making ripples in slowly widening circles.

Prints from under the bed

Top: Jocelyn Cooper, Is it Possible?, c1990s, woodcut on Japanese washi, 75 x 50 cm
Right: Untitled, c1990s, woodcut on Japanese washi, 40 x 52 cm
Below: From the Sublime to Blisters, c1990s, woodcut on Japanese washi, hand-coloured, 63 x 50 cm
all Copyright  Jocelyn Cooper 2017

John Hinds writes about a folio of work by a prolific, yet little-known Tasmanian artist, Jocelyn Cooper. The work was recently found under a mattress, and rescued from obscurity.


Hobart artist Jocelyn Cooper (born 1941) has now been living with Alzheimer’s for seven years, and her two caring sisters rescued these forgotten woodblock prints, and arranged a timely retrospective at the Firestation Print Studio in September, while the artist was still able to appreciate the long overdue recognition.

Why have we never heard of Jocelyn Cooper?

Her extensive CV is impressive, and her inventive practise covers over 35 years, of  painting, ceramics and puppetry, as well as printmaking? Her list of talents includes professional musician (pipe organ, bassoon), teacher, mother, feminist, nature lover, and a person of deep religious conviction. Her work deserves to be better known.



Jocelyn has never been ambitious, despite her abundant talents, nor one to conform to other’s expectations – she has truly followed her own unique path! It is rare to discover such an artist, so obviously individual, with such a strong technique and voice. This retrospective has been a revelation to all, and a reassurance that great artworks can have an ongoing life of their own.


The Woodblock Prints.

During the 1990s, no piece of discarded wood was considered safe from Jocelyn’s chisels! Consequently the size, format and  texture of the blocks varies greatly. This variety, along with a vigorous and direct cutting technique, hand colouring or overdrawing makes each print unique.

With her small edition monochrome prints, Jocelyn’s paper of choice is almost always a variety of pale Japanese Washi, but there are colours too. When hand printed with a spoon, darker figures are often defined on the paler textured background. A few larger works were printed on a borrowed press. Although black is the default ink colour, she used whatever was to hand.  With Jocelyn, there are no fixed rules!

The human subject however is all important, singly, paired or in groups. People use their hands to touch, embrace, knit or play a musical  instrument. Her always expressive figures are whimsically distorted, or elongated with exaggerated faces, yet retain evidence of her life drawing skills. Prints often make a direct political or religious point.

Some softer landscape images of Maria Island, her beloved natural retreat, are the exception.

Apart from the monochromes, the exhibition included smaller abstract coloured prints, with evidence of  a more complex and experimental technique. Up to 20 harmonious colours can be counted in transparent layers, giving wonderfully opalescent effects.


Despite no longer printing, Jocelyn is still a prolific abstract oil painter, often using found natural pigments. Thankfully, she was able to attend this opening, and to join in, and fully appreciate the love, admiration and goodwill which surrounded her.



This text is based on the opening address by Jocelyn’s sister Surmani Rose, at the Firestation Print Studio, Wed 20th September 2017. Thanks also to Rhondda Curtis (sister), Firestation member Kathleen Munson, and Manager Edith May.

Printmaking at the Tarnanthi Festival, Adelaide

Top: Adrian Stimson, Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation, Alberta, Canada, born 1964, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, Bison Mountains, 2017, Cicada Press, UNSW Art & Design, Sydney, aquatint, etching on paper; Cicada Press Collection, courtesy the artist. Photo: Saul Steed
Above: Laurel Nannup, Binjareb Nyoongar people, Western Australia, born 1943, Carrolup, Western Australia, No 28, 2014, Cicada Press, UNSW Art & Design, Sydney, etching, open bite and aquatint with hand coloured lolly tree; Cicada Press Collection, Courtesy the artist, photo: Saul Steed
Right: David Nolan, Wiradjuri people, New South Wales, born 1968, Goulburn, New South Wales, Bird on a Wing, 2012, Cicada Press, UNSW Art & Design, Sydney, etching, aquatint on paper; Cicada Press Collection, courtesy the artist
Below: Raymond Zada, Barkindji people, New South Wales, born 1971, Adelaide, Sorry again, 2015, Cicada Press, UNSW Art & Design, Sydney, aquatint on paper. Cicada Press Collection, courtesy the artist.

Curator Tess Allas discusses work from Cicada Press artists in the Tarnanthi Festival in Adelaide.

Q: The exhibition has its roots in the Storylines project – can you explain how this happened and what Storylines encompassed?

TA: Storylines was a three-year Australian Research Council-funded project. Vivien Johnson and I worked to interview as many Aboriginal artists as possible in order to write their biographies which were then uploaded onto the Design and Art Australia website (

We concentrated our research on artists south and east of the imaged line that C.D. Rowley drew across the nation. This line divided the Indigenous population into ‘Colonial’ (now known as ‘remote’) and ‘Settled’. We quickly discovered that many artists and communities of artists working outside the ‘art centre system’ of the north were not able to access some of the opportunities that art schools and other centres of art making can provide in outreach programs. It was agreed by Michael Kempson, the printmaker at Cicada Press, that we could invite some of these artists to a workshop during the university’s quiet times. And so, in 2012 the first workshop began for artists ‘below the Rowley Line’. David Nolan and Laurel Nannup, two of the artists in Under Pressure attended that first workshop. We also have been visited by individual contemporary artists who work in a ‘residency’ style situation throughout any given year.

Q: The artists are quite diverse – what sort of experiences have they had during the making process?

TA: Some of the artists, such as Laurel Nannup, are very familiar with the printmaking processes so she was very much at home from the moment she arrived. Some have had no etching or printmaking experience and have had to learn a whole new language in order to feel comfortable. Uncle Vic Chapman is one such artist. He is very familiar with ceramics and the language of that medium but printmaking was new to him. His first experience in this medium was in 2013 at the age of 82 and he has since become well-versed in the medium, the skills required and the language of etching and he is a regular weekly visitor to the Cicada Press studios. Raymond Zada’s first experience was a real test for him as the open studio environment took him out of his comfort zone. He was not used to sharing a space and having other artists around supporting, encouraging and critiquing during his artmaking process. The Cicada Press studio is a busy studio full of artists all engaging with each other and Raymond’s practice usually involves just him alone with his computer. We never really get to see his work until it is finished. The etching process that the workshops are built around is the opposite dynamic how Raymond usually works.

Q: What are some of the works in the exhibition and what approach do they take?

TA: Laurel Nannups’s work No 28 is an etching which brings together onto one etching plate, many of her stories which have previously been rendered as separate etchings, woodblock or lino cuts. Stories such as The Lolly Tree and Last Bath which tell of two memories from childhood (that of her uncle planting lollies in a tree and showing her and her sister that ‘lolly trees’ do exist and the story of her mother giving her and her sister their last bath before being taken away by the authorities). The title, ‘number 28’ comes from the number she came to be known as during the de-humanising events in her history when the authorities renamed her with a number. Dale Harding’s work W38 and E143 tell of similar histories, but these belong to his grandmother and great grandmother. They too, were taken and they too, had their family names denied them and were known by their alpha-numeric new names. Julie Gough’s work was initially commissioned by Campbelltown Arts Centre in 2016. Julie was a commissioned artist in the exhibition, With Secrecy and Despatch, which was an exhibition that commemorated the 200th anniversary of the Appin Massacre. Julie’s response was to shine a light on ten of the many many massacres and other acts of brutality that occurred during the Frontier Wars in Tasmania. Julie researched and found over 70 published newspaper articles or journal entries from the 1800s which documented atrocities as they happened. She eventually chose ten and screenprinted the text verbatom onto etched paper which was etched in such a way as to resemble old and decaying ‘wanted posters’. These works stand testament to Tasmania’s bloody history of its treatment of Aboriginal people.

Q: How does this project fit into broader/future aspirations at Cicada Press?

TA: The Cicada Press workshops not only provide new skills and new connections for the participants but the outcomes of these workshops are immense. We are constantly curating exhibitions that are shown in many galleries and community centres around the world including Cananda where we showed some work at the Montreal First Peoples Festival; in the United States at the Gorman Musuem at University of California, Davis; at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection in Charlottesville, Viriginia; in Utrecht in The Netherlands at the Aboriginal Art Museum; in Helsinki in Finland at the Kallio Kunsthalle Art Gallery as well as exhibitions in Australia including  an exhibition at Burrinja Cultural Centre in Victoria; at Wollongong Art Gallery where printworks by the shellworking Lombadina-based Sibosado brothers were included in the shellworking exhibition Shimmer;  at Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute in Adelaide; and the previously mentioned exhibition With Secrecy and Despatch at Campbelltown Arts Centre. So you can see that this particular project fits very neatly into the proven exhibiting track record for which Cicada Press is known. It is wonderful for us to show a small selection of prints, that have been created over the past five years, in a State Gallery. We have not had an opportunity to show at such a prestigious institution prior to Tarnanthi 2017  and we are incredibly grateful such an opportunity was given to us.

Under Pressure is at the Art Gallery of South Australia until 28 January


Call that printmaking?

From top: ‘Call that Printmaking?’ images by Alex Asch, John Pratt and Nicci Haynes.

Alison Alder, Australian National University’s Head of Printmaking and Drawing, discusses Call that Printmaking?, an exhibition showcasing four decades of printmaking at the ANU.

Q: What were the foundation ideas for this exhibition, and what sort of parameters did you formulate for it?

AA: The ANU School of Art and Design is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and the Printmedia and Drawing Workshop has played a central role in that history. The school was established using a Bauhaus workshop model under the first director Udo Sellbach, himself a printmaker. There have been a few changes over the decades, for instance the Graphic Investigation Workshop was merged with Printmaking, however the focus of the school is still very much based on fostering the specialised skills of making. In Printmedia and Drawing students can learn intaglio, relief and screen printing as well as lithography, typography and book design combined with a focus on drawing taught through specialised courses.

Call That Printmaking? is a celebration of traditional, digital and contemporary modes of production brought to life by a piece of equipment that most people have access to somewhere – the humble photocopier. Reducing and enlarging, making multiples, altering the mark of a drawing and relishing the inky blackness of toner on paper is all part of the appeal.

Q: ‘Printmedia’ is a very broad phrase – what exactly does it encompass and what are its freedoms?

AA: Printmedia is indeed a very broad phrase which encompasses any transference of an image from one surface to another. The mediation of an image across platforms is really exciting – the potential to readjust, redraw and reprint allows for freedoms which many other media forego by the direct nature of some processes.

The potential to disseminate information within a community relatively easily is one of printmedia’s great strengths – the democratic multiple.

Q: The exhibition clearly covers a lot of territory, both in terms of time-span, technical considerations and content. Can you give some examples of the expanse covered?

AA: The exhibition includes work by artists who graduated in 1980,  and crosses the decades to include artists who graduated last year. There is a wide variety of approach in regard to how artists have used a photocopier to make new work. Some have embraced the particular photocopy ‘look’, whilst other artists have adjusted and amended existing work into something new. Scale has been experimented with, using the capacity of a plan printer to go up to A0 including combinations of photography and the reproduction of traditional print technologies.

Q: Working with printmedia and drawing students, you must be exposed to a lot of enthusiasm and interesting discussions. Are there some enduring themes that have emerged over the years?

AA: The most enduring theme, without a doubt, is that students develop a love affair with the rich inkiness of ink – any type of ink – and its long history of making beautiful marks, whether they be created by gouging, scraping, pushing, pulling, drawing, squashing or stamping.

Call that Printmaking? 40 years of ANU Printmaking is at Megalo Print Studio + Gallery until 14 October.