‘Editions’ at the new Tacit

Above: Robert Hague, Mine – Yours (after Dance), 2016 , hand coloured lithograph on cotton rag paper, 70 x 70 cm (image), 79 x 79 cm (framed), edition of 25
Right: Andrew Weatherill, Climb, 2017, intaglio & relief print, 60 x 60 cm. Courtesy of artist & Tacit Galleries
Below: Sunny He, HeHeMade 1, 2017, photolithograph, 63 x 54 cm (image), 74 x 65 cm (framed), edition of 3
Bottom: Kasia Fabijanska, Coupe 507-0020, 2017, etching & aquatint, hand coloured, 22 x 15 cm (paper), 30 x 23 cm (framed), edition of 10
Far bottom: Megan McPherson, Cartographer’s chain: cloak-territory-affect, 2016, relief printed rice paper, pigment inks, silk, otton, archival glues, 200 x 200 cm

Editions 2018 is to be the biggest print-exhibition yet for Tacit Galleries at its new Collingwood venue in Melbourne, with twice as much space as previously. Director Keith Lawrence talks about the annual go-to event for the printmaking community.

Imprint: What is the premise for this recurring exhibition and how has it evolved to become one of the big annual print events in Melbourne?

Having moved to bigger premises, we looked to build on the exhibition’s reputation as well as the relationships with artists and audiences, new and returning. Editions 18 is therefore the biggest yet—55 artists and almost 200 works.

But we also knew there needed to be changes—new venue, new ideas, new structures.

A by-invitation ‘featured artist’ was introduced and the inaugural invitee is Damon Kowarsky. A survey of the last ten years of his practice, the focus is on portraiture and the figure, work less seen as Damon’s oeuvre is generally identified with land- and cityscapes.

 

Imprint: What are some of the results, in terms of the artwork in the exhibition, and what are visitors likely to experience when they visit?

The new Tacit is experiential and has been described as a mini-NGV. Unlike the old premises, there are no little corridor-like rooms—there’s a real sense of space where the artist and the art can be celebrated. With eleven galleries in total and work from 55 artists, there’s a great deal to see.

 

Imprint: Is the new space a chance to celebrate some more non-traditional formats?

The new premises are so much bigger than Johnston St and some of the galleries have been designed to showcase big works. Tacit and Editions provide a safe platform for artists to explore new and exciting print processes and approaches to image-making. We have introduced a multi-media gallery where Lisa Sewards, in a first for Editions, presents her art projection Silence of the Falling White Parachute.August Carpenter, in Rockwalls (Gariwerd) #1 and #2, has produced two monumental works on paper of 1.2 x 1.8 metres each specifically for the exhibition: Megan McPherson’s three large-scale installation pieces, none of which have been seen in Melbourne, challenge the viewer in their understanding of what constitutes a print (the works were finalists in the Burnie and Fremantle Print Prizes, so they qualify!). And then there’s multiple large framed works by single artists – such a rarity in group exhibitions.

 

But in looking for big, the baby hasn’t been thrown out with the bathwater! Editions celebrates printmaking in all its diversity and in all forms. So there’s work in all shapes and sizes, from etchings and linocuts with 10 x 10 cm plates through to those Carpenter monoprints—and a great deal in-between.

 

Imprint: Do you continue to get new names in the exhibition?

Yes. There are 14 new artists and 10 who exhibited for the first time last year. But there are also several ‘returners’ from the earlier editions of Editions who, for various reasons, have not exhibited with us for a few years. What’s interesting is the fact there are only four artists who have appeared in all six Editions exhibitions and in that time we have presented 115 Victorian-based printmakers.

Editions is also committed to presenting recent graduates from tertiary educational establishments and 2018 sees the VCA (Sunny He, Ben Stephens) and RMIT (Liam Haley) represented. The joy of Editions to me is to see these three printmakers sitting alongside such established artists at Robert Hague, Jim Pavlidis and Andrew Weatherill, all three of whom are also new to Editions.

Imprint: What are your observations of the Australian print community

While Editions focuses on Victorian printmakers, nothing exists in a vacuum—and Tacit of course runs throughout the year and exhibits a number of printmakers from around the country. So there’s plenty of exposure to the interstate and New Zealand print communities, a community that is generally incredibly supportive of each other.

Editions opens on Wednesday 7 February at 6.30pm at Tacit Galleries, 123a Gipps St, Collingwood, and shows until 18 February.

 

Melissa Smith: The Blue of Distance

Above: Melissa Smith, Momentary Worlds (shower), 2017, intaglio collagraph/linocut  Ed. 5, 42.5 x 32 cm
Right: Melissa Smith, Worlds beyond Worlds II, 2017, linocut Ed. 2, 76 x 113 cm (diptych)
Below: Melissa Smith, Longing, 2017, intaglio collagraph/linocut  Ed. 4, 34 x 114 cm (diptych)

IMPRINT: What were some of the foundation ideas for ‘The blue of distance’ – its title indicates an interest in landscape and the world around us?

Melissa Smith: My prints have always referenced aspects of the landscape, in particular shifts that have occurred as a consequence to climatic changes. This work evolved from several visits to the isolated landscape of Melaleuca in the South West of Tasmania. Visiting such remote areas and the resonance of the history they contain can have a powerful impact on one. Such places are on the edges of our worlds where the blue at the horizon, the blue of land and sea that seems to dissolve into sky, is the blue of distance. There is solitude, a desire and a longing associated with such places.

IMPRINT: What is the history of your relationship to the South West of Tasmania and how have you interacted with this area?

MS: I was privileged to visit Melaleuca several times in the past 18 months in my role as a Roving Curator with Arts Tasmania. I was working with the Friends of Melaleuca Inc. on the development and implementation of an interpretation plan associated with the establishment of the Deny King Heritage Museum. The remoteness of these landscapes does have an impact on your senses and I was instantly seduced.

IMPRINT: Tasmania is rich with isolated landscapes – what are some of the echoes of this that make their way into your work?

MS: It is the ‘quietness’ of these landscapes and that feeling of truly ‘being’ in the place. There is also a sense of needing to hold on tightly to these landscapes, which remain precious, and warrant protecting within our ever-changing world that balances on a tipping point. There is a unique sense of self-awareness realised in such environments that is difficult to describe but that in turn emanates a sense of life and hope.

IMPRINT: What are your plans for future projects?

MS: I would like to explore the notion of distance in the landscape further and how it is interpreted. Rebecca Solnit’s writing has certainly inspired me. Potentially one of my future Roving Curator projects could take me to King Island in Bass Strait which would provide me with another isolated landscape to explore and be inspired by.

The Audrey MacDonald Project

Above: John Robinson, Moroccan Top, 2018, lithograph/linocut, edition 1/8, 32 x 42 cm
Right: Gabrielle Falconer, 2018, The Bus Trip to Moscow, linocut, edition 1/6, 61 x 61 cm
Below: Jenny Dean, 2018, They Burn Thistles I & II (detail), collagraph & watercolour, 91 x 36cm each
Bottom: Jan Hogan, Audrey Macdonald’s Turkish Suite (detail), 2018, suite of 14 collages; lithographic print on Japanese paper on European rag paper in solander box, 15 cm x 21.5 cm each, solander box 17 x 25 x 4 cm

Artists involved with the Audrey MacDonald Project in Tasmania discuss their responses to a chance find in a second-hand store.

Imprint: How did your involvement with the Audrey Mac Project come about, and what is the premise for the exhibition?

 A few years back John Robinson bought a second-hand book and found three items among the pages. An address for Audrey MacDonald typed onto a piece of brown paper, a handwritten list of clothing and travel items and a luggage label from the ‘Hotel Rossiya’ that dates somewhere from the 1950s to 1970s. He often thought that it would be interesting to have different people interpret what all of these things could be. After encouragement from a few friends the ‘Audrey Mac Project’ became reality. The exhibition opened with 21 artists represented on at the Schoolhouse Gallery, Rosny Hill Rd, Rosny, Tasmania and continues to 4 February.

 Imprint: What are some of the foundation ideas for the work in the exhibition, and what are visitors likely to experience?

There are a few recurring ideas that appear in the work. Travel, particularly to Russia during the 1960s and 70s. Gaby Falconer has used her Mother’s trip on a Contiki tour to Moscow in 1968 as the basis of her Slavic folk style linocut.  The handwritten list is comprehensive in its description of clothing, making note of the colours and brands of various items. One of the items on the list is a Bangkok orange kaftan, which meant there was an orange colour to much of the work. John Robinson has used travel by train from Edinburgh to Moscow then return to Scotland as the basis for his Lithographs with linocuts of clothing in the middle. Burning thistles and the idea of a Turkish rebel reflect the cover from the book. Jenny Dean has developed her interest in ancestors invading the Tasmanian land with no understanding of how to care for it. Her collagraph is a poignant image of spreading thistles across a hill.

Audrey MacDonald the person and where she lived in Edinburgh is also present in many works. Audrey was still living at the found address when she celebrated her 100th birthday in 2013. Jan Hogan has assumed the persona of Audrey as an artist who studied in Edinburgh in the 1930s and travelled to Turkey in the 1960s. Gaining rare access to Persian miniatures from which a suite of Lithographs has been printed.

Imprint: How was the work developed and what were some of the challenges involved?

Much of the work has evolved from the research that artists have made on the 1960s and 1970s and then incorporated links to personal stories. Other artists have used imagery that comes directly from the information provided. The works include drawings, linocut, collagraph, collage, screenprint on fabric, lithography, digital prints, photography and a movie.

One of the challenges has been to make work that can fit in a suitcase, so that it can be transported to Wharepuke Gallery, Kerikeri, New Zealand where it will be exhibited later this year. This has meant much of the work is pinned and not framed.

Imprint: What future projects are you working on?

John, Gaby and Jenny are all interested in pursuing the themes that they have been working on. John will continue exploring new ways of how the found items relate to each other. Gaby will keep working on projects that connect with her mother’s past. Jenny wants to acknowledge the injustices perpetuated by invaders including her ancestors.

Many of the other artists have expressed interest in reworking the prints that they have made for this exhibition and perhaps presenting a new state or a new work in the New Zealand exhibition. There may be the possibility for a print exchange with some of the international participants and print studios’ that they are associated with.  There is much life left in this project.

John Robinson is the director of an independent printmaking studio in Lindisfarne, where printmaking classes and open studio sessions are regularly held.

Jenny Dean and Gabrielle Falconer are both graduates of UTAS and are the proud owners of an Enjay press. They have held regular exhibitions together.

Jan Hogan is the head of printmaking, School of Creative Arts, UTAS.

Dallas Richardson:

Above: Dallas Richardson, Trees Pipers Brook, 2005, etching and aquatint20 x 24 cm
Right: Dallas Richardson, Four Aspects of Ascent, Cocooned in time, 1996, etching, aquatint, deep bite, colour relief roll, 53 x 52 cm
Below: Dallas Richardson, Rock Series 17 – Blue Mist, 1994, etching, aquatint and deep bite, 75 x 50 cm
Bottom: Dallas Richardson, Rock Series No. 1, 1989, etching, aquatint and deep bite, 30 x 30cm

 Dallas Richardson discusses her retrospective at Gallery Pejean in Launceston.

Imprint : What are some of the foundation ideas for the work in the exhibition, and what are visitors likely to experience?

Dallas Richardson: This exhibition will show prints made from the 1980s to 2013

Most of them are etchings including some of which I named, the ‘Rock Series’ prints. Generally, these works are about transition and renewal of the fluctuating and fragile human condition where the rock becomes a metaphor representing ‘the self’

It began in 1989, when I set up a still life using a granite rock that I picked up from our garden. I set it on a small, Ceylon tea, timber box and it developed from there. To start with, my aim was to simply make an etching, which showed the characteristics of a rock.

After this first still life the rock liberates itself from its tactile surroundings and is found in many varied, imagined environments; a theme develops from one print to the next as the rock finds itself in a myriad of different contexts. Within the earth, floating above, just out of reach of prospective danger, cocooned in a quiet place, sometimes it is split in two and in an atmosphere of darkness and sorrow. Always it is moving in time, changing, and at times finding ecstasy in renewal.

Thus, this humble rock becomes the main motif of my etchings and the ‘Rock Series’ is born

Other etchings, reflect the place that I lived in which was rural northern Tasmania.  I was always keen to trial different etching techniques in relation to these various scenes and so as well as making an etching I was depicting something local. These prints have more immediate appeal whereas the ‘Rock Series’ prints provide a more cerebral and intriguing view but which, I hope relates to the viewer’s varied experiences of life.

Imprint: How was the work developed technically and what were some of the challenges involved?

DR: In the ‘Rock Series’ prints my intention was to create the quality and character of a rock. This presented quite a challenge. Etching, however was the perfect medium. I therefore used zinc plate and nitric acid to achieve the results.

I started by using the sugar-lift technique to give the pock like marks of a rock. Before I began the technique, I blocked out the plate leaving open only the shape of a rock. I then splattered this rock shape randomly with sugar lift solution after which it was covered with a blockout solution. The dry plate was then submerged in warm water to lift the sugar solution. This worked well. I had a plate, which was mostly masked excepted for these random, pock like areas.   After this, I used a strong 4: 1 nitric acid to deeply bite into the plate. This created the surface I was looking for. I then needed to develop tone and texture to create a 3 dimensional appearance. For this I used both hand-held and dust box aquatints.

Originally, these works were black and white but after a while, I decided to introduce colour. I did this by firstly inking up the plate intaglio, then placing a transparent colour over the surface with a relief roller. I had to use a large roller and the roller could travel once only over the inked plate as it would pick up the intaglio ink and redeposit where it wasn’t needed. Because of this, it had to be washed each inking. This was time consuming and as I was using oil based inks, very messy and smelly, especially when using a solvent. However, the results were exactly what I wanted. So I persevered.

Imprint: What future projects are you working on?

DR:  In my new studio in Legana Tasmania I have an excellent setup. I have two mangle presses and all the materials and tools needed so I can practice both intaglio and relief printing.

I have decided that I will practice only non-toxic printmaking so this means I no longer do etching and I use only water-based inks.

I am now making collagraphs, drypoints and linocuts

My present works portray evocative landscapes mostly imagined but sometimes I use local scenes that I develop. With these, I intend to create a body of new work that I can exhibit.

Dallas Richardson – A retrospective is at Gallery Pejean until February 17. 

Imaging the Margin

Above: Paradise, 2015 Imprinted and cast handmade paper
sculpture, 300cm x 60cm. PANELS LEFT to RIGHT: Sea Journey 2017 Watermarked and cast handmade
paper 250cm x 70cm; Off Shore 2017 Watermarked and dyed handmade paper 250cm x 70cm; Declaration, 2017 Impressed handmade paper
250cm x 70cm; Fortress Mentality, 2017 Impressed handmade paper
250cm x 70cm.
Right; Article One, 2017 (detail), handmade imprinted paper panel 250cm x 70cm,
Below: Imaging the Margin, 2017 (page 16) Contemporary ‘illuminated manuscript’ video artist’s
book, projected onto five, 250cm x 70cm handmade paper panels.

Artist Nathalie Hartog-Gautier discusses the exhibition Imaging the Margin: Journeys, Borders and Living on the Edge, a collaboration with Penelope Lee.

Imprint: What were some of the foundation ideas for Imaging the Margin?

NH-G: We have a shared passion for the art of print and paper that precipitated the collaborative work. Penelope’s work integrates the medieval origins of papermaking, printmaking and book binding with new media technologies in artefacts that explore the way we read the world.

My practice over the years has focused on the concept of the voyage, its transformations, attachments and associations, especially when place interconnects with memory and identity. Displacement and migration are continuing themes in my work.

The concept of the project started some years ago and, as often, discussion and sharing common interests in politic started the seed of an idea. Watching waves after waves of migrants/refugees risking their like for the hope of a better life is something hard to grasp in the comfort of one’s home, but we felt both angry and appalled by the refugees’ situation here in Australia, by the political collusion by both main parties on refugee policy and the harsh deterrent like Manus Island. We felt the critical voices were marginalised.

It was impossible to think we could be “in their shoes”. But we have a voice, so to speak, and we could relate our feeling with our artworks. But there is so much to say and how to relate so many words in our works?

The medieval book and their comments and drawings in the margins were a starting point for our research. After Penelope was awarded an AGNSW residency studio at the Cite Internationale des Arts, we both went to Paris to research manuscripts at the Bibliothèque Richelieu. Visual materials were also abundant in newspapers to provide a collection of images that could be used in collages.

When we came back from Paris, we had a dedicated space at Primrose Park in Neutral Bay, a studio awarded by North Sydney Council. It was a half way meeting place for both of us and “a studio away from home”.

Imprint: The subject matter is very topical, as well as complicated how did you work towards saying something new and powerful, or develop a different perspective on it?

NH-G: Medieval architecture had a strong influence on the series of works we made. Because of the level of literacy at the time, a lot of ideas were represented in sculptures and paintings on walls. Books were for the elite, people who could read and write.

After many trials and errors, discussions, we came up with the concept of the columns and its capital titled “Paradise”, a visual narrative, a monument in memory of the refugees and migrants who lost their life trying to reach Paradise/Australia with all their names written on the column. A list of names of those who have died at sea or in Australian custody is provided by the Australian Border Deaths Database http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/thebordercrossingobservatory/publications/australianborder-

deaths-database/

The Australian Border Deaths Database maintains a record of all known deaths associated with Australia’s borders since 1 January 2000.

We also made 14 large hand made paper panels (250x70cm), 5 panels with watermarks alluding to stain-glass windows. These panels were designed to form a screen for the video projection of an “illuminated manuscript,” exhibited at the Grafton Regional Gallery.

Imprint: How did you develop the work technically and what were some of the challenges involved?

NH-G: The works had to be a narrative, similar to walking in a medieval church looking at all the elements telling a story. The challenge was the initial large book we wanted to do. We both went to Burnie to make the paper but structurally we couldn’t get it to work. Where there is a problem there is a solution – a digital book!

“Imaging the Margin,” is video projection of a contemporary interpretation of the illuminated manuscripts inspired by our studies in Paris. We felt we had to talk about the Human Right charters on refugees, as Australia is a signatory of the treaty. We thought how could our government sign such an important document and walk away from it and say things like “we choose who come to Australia” or make up “fake news” with accusations of refugees throwing their children overboard.

Imprint: What are your plans for future collaborations?

NH-G: Penelope and I have collaborated on 5 projects with 4 in the last 3 years! We collaborated on the work “Underground” at the Coal Loader that won the work on paper award. The large body of work “Imaging the margins” will continue our collaboration with talk to travel the work overseas.

Imaging the Margin is at Mary Mckillop Place, 7-11 Mount Street, North Sydney, until 28 February

Eirene Mort: A Livelihood

Above: Wood and leather working tools c1920 belonging to Nora Weston, Mort Family Estate, photo RLDI
Right: Eirene Mort (right) and Nora Weston c.1905, Mort Family Estate, photo RLDI 
Below: Eirene Mort (1879-1977) Printing block and prints c.1900, Mort Family Estate, photo RLDI 
Bottom: Printing plate ‘S’ c.1903, courtesy Mort Family Estate, photo RLDI

Curator Dale Middleby discuss the work of Eirene Mort, an extraordinary woman. 

Imprint: Eirene Mort was an extraordinarily talented and active person – how do you curate a show with so many possible avenues of enquiry, and what did you decide to focus on?

 DM: I was really spoilt for choice, Mort mastered an astonishing range of skills during her first study tour to London (1899–1903), and in two further visits in 1912 and 1926. She expressed her considerable skills in a wide range of media, and in addition was an inventor, a writer and a family historian. She practised interior design and occupational therapy before such professions were recognised. Add to these her role as a teacher and her prominence in numerous arts societies, and a picture emerges of an entrepreneur, a high achiever and an astute social observer.

The exhibition aims to explore the lived experience of a woman artist and artisan practising in the first decades of last century. As the title, Eirene Mort: a livelihood suggests, the exhibition reveals how Mort made a living from her art practice and teaching in the early years of the 20th Century. My curatorial decisions and object selections were based on how best to inform this overarching theme. As a consequence, Mort’s early influences, her training, and her personal and professional networks are subthemes that run as a biographical narrative throughout the exhibition.

 

Imprint: What is the history behind CMAG coming to have such a wonderful endowment of Eirene Mort’s art practice?

DM: Since opening in 1998 CMAG has acquired examples of Mort’s work and featured her etchings in a number of exhibitions.  Seeking permission from the Canberra branch of the Mort family to use and reproduce her work for such exhibitions fostered a fine rapport. It was very gratifying therefore in 2013 when Mort’s heirs offered to donate material to CMAG that related to her art practice. Their offer was accepted and the material is now a prized part of CMAG’s permanent collection; a generous gift from the estate of Eirene’s niece, Margaret Mort MBE.

Imprint: How did Mort contribute to issues around national identity in Australia?

 DM: Mort was in London studying art teaching and design when the Australian states federated and shaping a new national identity was foremost in the minds of public figures. Mort was particularly taken by the English Arts and Crafts Movement and when she returned to Australia applied its principles and her designer’s eye to Australian flora and fauna. Mort’s extensive use of Australian species in her work engendered pride in the unique flora and fauna of Australia.

In 1903 Mort made a less positive contribution to the burgeoning national identity in her design for a set of children’s alphabet blocks. An Aboriginal man stands for the letter ‘A’ in Mort’s ‘Australian Animal Alphabet’. Such racial prejudice was commonplace among non-indigenous Australians at the time and shows Mort held views that were typical of a privileged, middle-class woman of that time.

Imprint: What are some of the highlights among Mort’s print-related work and interests?  

DM: Mort’s bookplates and their associated etching plates, pen drawings, woodblocks and printer’s proofs are highlights of the exhibition. In 1908 Mort became member of the Ex Libris Society and actively pursued the society’s goal of promoting exchange among artists. A sample of her vast personal collection is on show and includes the work of Lionel Lindsay and Margaret Oppen. In a letter dated 1947 from fellow bookplate collector Gianni Mantero, Mort is asked to list the best Australian bookplate artists. She replies that it is “a very delicate question to ask a bookplate designer” but lists “a few of the best” including Adrian Feint, Allan Jordan, Eric Thake, GD Perrottet, P Litchfield,  Roy Davis, and Hilda Wiseman(NZ). Also on display is a checklist booklet which details eighty-eight of Mort’s designs made from 1907-1943.

 

Imprint: How is the exhibition organised in terms of the way a visitor might experience it?

DM: This exhibition begins with one of Eirene Mort’s (1879–1977) most important projects; her mission to record Canberra’s heritage. Mort had developed a fondness for the region when, as a child, she visited her Campbell relations at Duntroon and her Crace relations at Gungahlin. Knowing that the Canberra region was about to change because of its new status as the national capital, Mort compiled a portfolio of drawings and etchings of the Canberra district of the 1920s.

Following this module is an intense display demonstrating the many skills she employed to support herself. It includes examples of book binding, book illustrations, bookplates, calendars, ceramics, children’s books and toys, Christmas cards, dadoes, decorative panels, d’oyleys, ecclesiastical designs, etchings, gift cards,  illuminated addresses, inlaid wood designs, leatherwork, linocuts, magazine covers, mirror frames, prints, postcards, posters,  pyrography, repoussé work, sketches, stencilled borders, tablecloths, tapestries, wallets, wallpaper designs, watercolours, woodcarving designs and woodcuts. A detailed biography follows that examines Mort’s life through her creative legacy and social milieu.

Eirene Mort: A Livelihood  is at Canberra Museum + Art GAllery until 25 February

Canicular Days at Queenscliff Gallery & Workshop

Above: Lucinda Tanner, Porta D’Acqua, 2014, oil-based ink on paper/woodblock print, dimensions 210x200cm. Courtesy of Lucinda Tanner
Right: Lucinda Tanner, Basilisk, 2016, oil-based ink on paper/woodblock print, dimensions 150x100cm. Courtesy of Lucinda Tanner
Below: Lucinda Tanner, Der Brunnen, 2015, oil-based ink on paper/woodblock print, dimensions 170x130cm. Courtesy of Lucinda Tanner
Bottom: Lucinda Tanner, The Hodler Frieze I, 2017, oil-based ink on paper/woodblock print, dimensions 100x270cm. Courtesy of Lucinda Tanner

Lucinda Tanner discusses Canicular Days at Queenscliff Gallery & Workshop.

Imprint: How did your involvement with Canicular Days come about, and what is the premise of the exhibition?

LT: I exposed my first silkscreen in the solarium up at the local gym in our country town. I was experimenting with printing underglazes onto clay for my VCE art studies.

That was 30 years ago. I have since had many adventures with print in one form or another.

At a commercial screenprinters in Cairns, the strength of the sun was so constant we exposed the screens directly under the open sky. No exposure unit was needed.

In Melbourne’s CBD in the 1990s, I worked for fashion label Vixen Australia, hand-printing metres and metres of their divine silks and velvets.

Printing with master printer Osmond Kantilla in the screenprinting studio at Tiwi Design on Bathurst Island, was a particularly treasured time.

These past experiences were more practical applications of print. It is only since moving to Switzerland and falling in love with the woodblock print that I have steered in the direction of fine-art prints.

Maintaining an active presence as an artist in two countries requires quite a bit of energy. However, nurturing the connection with my home audience is important to me so I am happy to make that investment. I am grateful to Queenscliff Gallery & Workshop (QG&W) for the opportunities that my association with them makes possible, enabling me to cultivate an ongoing engagement.

Canicular Days is the gallery’s summer group show exhibiting current works of eight Australian printmakers.

 

Imprint: What were some of the foundation ideas for the work you have made for the exhibition?

LT: Not far from us, just over the border in France, is the Rixheim Wallpaper Museum. I have returned a number of times to view their Panoramics, or scenic wallpapers, landscapes formed from sheets of wallpaper pasted side by side to cover all the walls of a room. I love the notion of ‘setting the scene’ and this was one thing in mind when I approached this project.

The other was the question ‘what makes a place that place?’ The natural landscape to start with and then the cultural heritage that has been laid down over it. I have been contemplating heritage objects and what they represent by translating them into large format relief prints. Most recently, I printed a collection of objects found in the streets and houses throughout Baselland and Basel city. It was interesting to reflect on what they revealed about the differences between these two neighbouring cantons.

The Hodler Frieze (I & II of the series can be viewed at QG&W) is a large format, multi-coloured woodblock print consisting of 3 panels depicting a stylised mountain panorama. Inspiration for this vista was drawn from the landscape paintings of one of Switzerland’s greatest artists, Ferdinand Hodler (1853 – 1918).

The Hodler Frieze is an extension of the idea of translating cultural heritage into print. In this case I have ‘translated’ Hodler’s landscape paintings, capturing both landscape and cultural heritage. The Swiss landscape as informed by Hodler.

 

Imprint: How did you develop the work technically and what were some of the challenges involved?

LT: The print is a continued investigation of a cross-hatching technique I have been working with, all about layering and intersections. I spent a long time considering how the printing plates, which I restricted to three per panel, should interact with each other to convey the image.

The use of multiple layers and the cross hatching was aimed at achieving colours with depth and vitality. I did a lot of sampling to see how the colours interacted with each other.

I also trialled many papers to see how they took the multiple layers of ink. I couldn’t afford long drying times between layers and wanted a uniform matt finish. I needed an absorbent paper of sufficient size.

In the end I opted for the Hahne Mühle Alt Lünen 350gsm etching carton that comes on the roll. I liked the soft, smooth texture of the paper and the way it absorbed the ink so uniformly, even the third layer.

Tearing the paper down to the required sheet size in preparation for printing took a day alone. A process that required its own forethought and planning.

When working in the large format, the normal problems that printmakers face become large format problems. When it comes to the actual print production, a clear visualisation of how the printing process is going to run from start to finish is essential to avoid unexpected hitches. For example, when you have eight oversized, ink-covered sheets of paper that don’t fit into standard drying racks, you need a system in place to house them while the dry. These issues all must be planned for in advance or you risk ruining your work.

To ensure colours matched across all three panels of the frieze sufficient ink needed to be mixed at the outset of the print run. At the same time I was mindful of not mixing so much ink that it was going to go to waste. It was tricky to judge these large amounts of ink.

 

Imprint: What future projects are you working on?

LT: Firstly, I’m not done with the Hodler Frieze series yet. Up until now I have worked with transparent inks but recently started with some opaques which has opened up a whole new realm of possibilities. I want to re-work the Hodler plates and continue the series with an investigation of what effects can be gained from the usage of opaque inks.

I am in the planning phase of a project that will mark the Carl Spitteler jubilee in 2019. Carl Spitteler (1845–1924) was a Swiss poet who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1919. He wrote epic poems and I plan to produce an epic panorama depicting parts of his most famous poem.

For this project I have initiated a collaboration with a puppeteer and a musician/actor. The goal is to bring the poems alive through theatre with my prints serving as the set. This is part of an ongoing effort to seek more engaging ways of sharing print with an audience.

I have recently become interested in the woodblock prints of German artist Anselm Kiefer (born 1945) and can imagine his and Paul Gauguin’s woodblock prints having an influence on my Spitteler panoramic. But of course, one thing always leads to another and you never know where things might end up…

Canicular Days, featuring Rona Green, John Kelly, Michael Leunig, Soula Mantalvanos, Adam Nudelman, Lucinda Tanner, Deborah Williams and Joel Wolter. is at Queenscliff Gallery & Workshop until 25 February. qgw.com.au

Lucinda Tanner will be in the gallery demonstrating woodblock printing on the 28, 29 and 30 December.

Colin Holt: a survey

Above: The Dirty Rat Café, 2005, screenprint, 20 x 40 cm. Collection of Don Whyte
Right: Back from the Brink…, collage photocopied on paper, 44 x 31 cm, Private Collection
Below: Visit Darwin, 2001, screenprint using Hemi ink on cartridge paper. Edition of 39, 77.5 x 56.5 cm. Gift of Franck Gohier, 2004. Charles Darwin University Art Collection, CDU1220

Curator Kellie Joswig discusses the work of artist Colin Holt, who is having a survey exhibition at Charles Darwin University in Darwin. 

Imprint: Colin is often described as a ‘maverick’ artist – what is this based on and how does it manifest in his art?

KJ: Colin Holt has been described as a maverick artist because he has a distinctly unconventional approach to making art. Holt often works on oversize plywood and incorporates natural ochres, ground rocks and sand in his paintings. He has a particularly expressionist approach to his investigations of themes, evident in his choice of colour and quick application of paint, and broad gestural brushstrokes. He appreciates and is inspired by Aboriginal art, and Australian modernist artists such as Ian Fairweather. He also works in a myriad of genres and styles – print and poster-making being just two of them.

Imprint: The exhibition covers four decades – what was the process for deciding what was in the show (and not!) in terms of Colin’s print-related work?

KJ: It was important for the audience to see a variety of styles that showcase Colin Holt’s repertoire, drawing on prominent works from his own collection and from many local private collections, as well as eight works in the CDU Art Collection.

Holt is a visual artist first and foremost, but music also plays a big part of his creative life. He is a talented musician, having played drums for numerous local bands including Swamp Jockeys and Horse Trank. It was important to include posters he has made for music gigs, which incorporate photocopied and collaged elements. Other posters reference recent socio-political and historical events with a regional context, such as the 1999 independence of East Timor from Indonesia, and a satirical screenprint of local fictional ‘character’s’ that Holt was inspired to create following a spate of indiscriminate violent attacks in Darwin. The exhibition also features a print, Dirty Rat Café that Holt made as a demonstration print at Tiwi Designs when he was Lecturer at Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education; although it is only a small and simple two-colour design it shows his sense of humour and easy flair for the medium.

Imprint: In what ways does Colin’s print-related work converse with his non-print work, both in terms of content and technical considerations?

KJ: I think it is safe to say that Holt consistently sees and does things ‘big’, in terms of colour and gesture. His works are always charged with emotion in responding to the world around him, although his prints and posters typically feature graphic figurative elements and text, while his non-print works are more abstract in nature. Technically, his print works are ‘designed’: methodical and layered as collages of photocopies and cut-outs, or screenprints, while his non-print works are created more intuitively and often in haste.

Imprint: Now that Colin sees all this work together in such a broad survey, what are some of the reflections on it he has had?

KJ: Colin Holt: a survey represents the life story of a prolific and talented multi-disciplinary artist! With 89 works in the exhibition, consisting of paintings in several genres including portraits, abstraction, landscapes and historical narratives, as well as prints and sculptures, the exhibition is a broad survey of what Colin Holt can do and how he thinks as an artist. But these works together reveal only a curated snippet of his entire oeuvre. Overall, Colin Holt is pleased to see his art hanging in a beautiful big space with great lighting – exactly where they deserve to be.

Colin Holt: a survey is at Charles Darwin University Art Gallery until 17 February

http://www.cdu.edu.au/artcollection-gallery/artgallery

Defining Art at Burnie Regional Art Gallery

Above: Arthur Boyd,  Narcissus, Skull and Webbed Bird, 1978, etching and aquatint, 76.6 x 58 cm
Right: Jeffrey Smart, The Dome, 1979, etching and aquatint, 76 x 56 cm
Below: Sidney Nolan,  Miner Smoking, 1972, lithograph, 80.7 x 79.2 cm

Birgitta Magnusson-Reid explores the exhibition ‘Defining Art’. 

Imprint: What were some of the foundation ideas for ‘Defining Art’ in showcasing the gallery’s collection?

BM: It is well known that the Burnie Regional Art Gallery’s permanent collection, which is focused on works on paper, is of National reputation.

The Gallery is celebrating it’s 40th birthday in 2018 and we wanted to really show the depth of the gallery’s collection after 40 years of acquiring works of art.

What may not be quite so well known is that the collection includes works by many significant Australian artists, who all had a big effect on the development of art in Australia in the 20th century.

Imprint: What are some of the print-based works in the exhibition?

BMR: The vast majority of the works on display are print based.  And many of these works are editioned and thus true to the saying   that editioned prints are affordable collect for young institutions such as the Burnie Regional Art Gallery. And this would be particularly true for the prints in this exhibition that are from the 70ies and the 80ies.

Imprint: Are there any of these works in particular that you feel drawn to – why?

BMR: My absolute favourite work  is a lithograph from 1977 by Brett Whiteley  ‘View of the Garden’ (‘View From the Window’)  showing his glorious drawing and compositional  skills, both done with such  ease.

I have also fallen in love with a work by Rosalie Gascoigne. She was the first female artist to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale in 1982. The Birdhouse is an assemblage created from found objects, including Rosella Parrots from Arnott Biscuit packaging, which was exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1982. So it is a well-travelled work with a bona fide Venice Biennale stamp.

When I was a fresh immigrant to Australia I discovered the works of Fred Williams in art books and was immediately taken by the colours and his calligraphic way of depicting the sparse flora in the dry outback. Immigrating can be hard on the mind but I found solace in his works and felt less lonely and very excited to have discovered an amazing landscape artists! The works by Williams has not been on display for some 25 years and this is a wonderful opportunity to share his works.

Imprint: What are some of the possible ways of seeing these works in a new light, in terms of the connections that might arise with other works in the show?

BMR: The exhibition is a who’s who of Australian Art history!  The works themselves are from a time period of say 25-30 years but of course the artists themselves represent different generations and it the exhibition will give the viewer an idea of developments in visual art in Australia.

The artists included in Defining Art are:  Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, John Brack, Pat Brassington, Ruth Faerber, Rosalie Gascoigne, Alun Leach-Jones, Roger Kemp, Bea Maddock, Sidney Nolan, John Olsen, Desiderius Orban, John Peart, Lloyd Rees, Jan Senbergs, Martin Sharp, Jeffrey Smart, Tim Storrier, Imants Tillers, Tony Tuckson, Brett Whiteley and Fred Williams.

Curator: Birgitta Magnusson-Reid, Gallery Project Officer

Defining Art is at Burnie Regional Art Gallery until 14 January

Victorian College of the Arts graduate exhibition

Above: Ben Stephens, Untitled, #1, 2017.
Right: Elias Arce Toner, Untitled #2, 2017
Below: Ben Stephens, Untitled #4, 2017
Bottom: Elias Arce Toner, Untitled #4, , 2017

 

Two graduates discuss their work showing in the graduate exhibition at the Margaret Lawrence Gallery at the Victorian College of the Arts. 

BEN STEPHENS

(who recently completed a Bachelor of Fine Art in Drawing and Printmedia at the VCA where he has studied from 2015-2017)

Q: What were some of the foundation ideas for your work in the VCA Graduate Exhibition?

BS: It was all a bit of a happy accident.  I had done some small prints earlier in the year and the textures that came out were really striking, way more than the actual image that I had made, so I wanted to play around with that a lot more.

I just worked with photos I had taken around campus and nearby buildings as a reference point.  I knew I wanted to do something print based, but the whole thing really came together in a short period of time- a few weeks, and then once I had a bit of a framework for I wanted to do I just started making, making, making.

Q: How did you develop the work and what were some of the challenges involved? The work was really just developed from trial and error. A lot of editing… mostly editing.  I tend to just make as much stuff as I can and then try and find what works and what doesn’t and then build a body of work from there.

BS: It was mostly practical things, but thankfully the staff in the print workshop were very patient and helped me to solve those issues.

Q: How has your relationship with print-based media evolved during your time at the VCA?

BS: I came into the degree knowing very little about printmaking, outside of some screen-printing I had done in high school. I didn’t really do an awful lot of printmaking until my final year, and it just felt like a natural fit.  It was a good medium for me to get all my random ideas and experiments of the last three years and get a little more focused.

Q: What are your plans for future print-based projects?

BS: I want to mix up things a bit. Rather than just using photo-lithographs I want to do more hand drawn plates.  Mostly I just want to refine, less detail, more colour.

 

ELIAS ARCE TONER

(who came to Melbourne from Costa Rica in late 2014, specifically to apply to VCA. He began a Bachelor of  Fine Arts majoring in Drawing and Printmaking in 2015.)

Q: What were some of the foundation ideas for your work in the VCA Graduate Exhibition?

EAT: Being bilingual, I have always been very interested in that moment in translation where I am not interpreting the information through either language but as a whole. I found that whenever I would try to translate an idea from one language to the other, some parts of that idea were lost while others were gained, although at the moment of conceiving that idea, in my brain, it would be whole.

Printmaking can be very similar to translation; you have an idea of what the final image might look like, but once you start translating that onto the copper or stone, it can change drastically and gain or lose meaning. I’ve been reading a lot of the works of H.P. Lovecraft and have become so inspired by his reluctance to describe the horrors his protagonists perceive that I felt like that moment of being so stunned by a concept or feeling that you cannot put words to it is very similar to the impasse that happens when I try to translate an idea from non-language to Spanish or English. For these prints, I’ve tried to show recognizable forms and spaces that actively deny description, trying to capture that impasse: images that can’t be corralled by words.

Q: How did you develop the work and what were some of the challenges involved?

EAT: I went through a lot of rounds of drawing, each time making sure I wasn’t equating the forms and spaces with words, something much easier said than done. I also wanted to use different schools of printmaking, not only etching but also lithography. This proved difficult since, having focused in copper etching techniques for most of my three years at VCA, my lithography skills weren’t up to par. I was advised to make the most of my etching and so I did.

Q: How has your relationship with print-based media evolved during your time at the VCA?

EAT: Before I started at VCA, I had never done printmaking other than a couple of relief prints here and there. As soon as we were taught copper etching, I became enamoured by the possibilities it presented for my work. Having always focused on linework during my development as an artist, hard-ground became very attractive to me and so I based my main practice around etching. Copper has a very alluring quality to it: just stare at your distorted reflection in a freshly polished piece of copper and you’ll see what I mean. So many of the processes surrounding a copper etching have to be so precise and well planned out that I take great pleasure in traversing that journey, and finding little accidents that enrich the work. It took me a while to understand these mistakes and embrace them as an essential part of the printmaking process.

For most of my course, I was so involved in etching that I neglected lithography, but in this last year, I’ve become increasingly interested in it and have expanded my skillset a little to include some lithography techniques, although I have much to learn.

Q: What are your plans for future print-based projects?

EAT: Learning the deep history of printmaking and all the little tips and tricks you can use is so much fun that I feel I will never stop learning, and that really excites me. I will continue my etching practice but mainly I want to focus on developing a strong set of lithography skills, and become “bilingual” in printmaking as well, enriching my vocabulary so once I have learnt enough, I can start my un-learning stage and hopefully find something new.

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