Clare Jackson: ‘This is not a place’

From top,works by Clare Jackson:
This is not a place, 2017, aquatint etching from two plates on BFK, 40.5 x 38.5 cm (11 x 15 cm – plate mark) 3/8
Move dust, 2017, aquatint etching from two plates on BFK, 40.5 x 38.5 cm (7 x11 cm – plate mark) 2/8
I saw it different, I must admit, (from series After landing) 2017, aquatint etching from two plates on BFK 49 x 38.5 cm (14 x 29.5 cm – plate mark) 1/8

Logan Ramsay speaks with Clare Jackson about her new show at Megalo Print Studio and Gallery in Canberra.

 Imprint: What draws you to etching as a technique?

CJ: I like the discovery process of intaglio; the fact that you never know exactly what your print is going to look like. While there are aspects of the medium that you can predict and control, there is always an element of the unknown. I feel a mixture of excitement and nerves when I’m about to pull the first proof from a new plate, because there’s a chance you’re going to be disappointed by what you see, but it’s worth it for those times you’re happy with the result. And if not, it means you keep searching for ways to make it work.

Imprint: How does time and memory come together in your work?

CJ: As my work has developed, I’ve realised that the idea of history has superseded that of memory. I am intrigued by the involuntary recollections that come unbidden to our minds when triggered by an aspect of our surroundings, yet my etchings aren’t illustrative of these recollections. Rather, each print forms part of an archive; I cannot communicate exactly what was seen or felt in a specific place but I can leave a trace, a memento of what transpired.

The nature of etching as a medium, means that there is always going to be a history held in the surface of the plate. I spend so much time working with the plates in the lead up to printing, from drawing on them in various locations, to taking them through technical stages in the studio, I see the act of taking a print as preserving this history in a single object.

Imprint: Where do you draw inspiration for your landscapes?

CJ: The experience of unfamiliar locations has become integral to the way I make work. I’ve been lucky enough to have undertaken artist residencies in varied and unique places, such as the Estonian Printing Museum in Tartu, Estonia, and Wollemi National Park and Woy Woy Bay in NSW, so my work depends on the location I’m in at any given time. Two of my recent series ‘Blue nights’ and ‘This is not a place’ contain a number of recurring visual elements that reflect those I’m attracted to in certain landscapes; details of coastal suburbia at night, Australian mid century architecture, the juxtaposition of tropical plant life with architectural details, and the way light interacts with all of these elements.


More recently I’ve started working on a series of etchings, ‘After landing’, which draws inspiration from photographic documentation of space capsules returning to earth, and personal accounts of those who have experienced orbital or suborbital space travel. Although this series is also framed around unfamiliar locations, this time I have not physically visited them. These works depict parachutes and the clouds of dust that erupt as they connect with the earth, signalling the return of a space capsule, and the end of a journey for the individuals inside.

 Imprint: Can you take us through your approach to intaglio/aquatint?

CJ: I took part in an excellent colour etching workshop with Melbourne-based artist, Kyoko Imazu, last year at Megalo Print Studio and Gallery, which really influenced the way I approach intaglio and think about colour. For me the process consists of different stages and always begins with drawing, whether it be on paper first or directly onto the copper plate. I enjoy this part of the process because I can do it anywhere, as I usually take plates with me to various locations and draw on site. Then I work in the etching studio, taking the plates through multiple stages of aquatint to build up areas of tone that will eventually work together in multi plate prints. Working with etching in this way means that the drawing and technical processes can sometimes be disconnected from one another; a lot of time might elapse after making the initial drawing. So when it eventually comes to proofing, the print itself serves as a reminder of where I was, and what I was thinking in that drawing moment.

Imprint: How do you build narratives into your prints?

CJ: The titles I choose for my etchings are often extracted or influenced by something I’m reading at the time, and a narrative builds around my responses. For my series ‘Blue nights’ (after Joan Didion’s memoir of the same name), I sought to explore the twilight hours during my artist residency in Woy Woy Bay. Whilst walking the suburbs at night, I made drawings onto copper plates, hoping to gather the fleeting and mundane curiosities of the period where dusk transitions to nightfall – the gradual retreat of people into homes, trees gathering darkness to their leaves, and the glow from windows appearing amongst them. The dying of summer marks the end of the blue nights, and brings forth a sense of loss – these etchings are a personal elegy to the experience of being alone with one’s perception.

Clare Jackson’s This Is Not a Place is at Megalo Print Studio and Gallery until 22 July.


Printmakers Association of Western Australia: ‘Hand Print’

Works from ‘Hand Print’: Wineglass Refractions (above); Art Deco Interior (right) and The Urban Jungle (below).

Elizabeth Morrison, president of the Printmakers Association of Western Australia, discusses the exhibition Hand Print, the 2017 members’ exhibition.

Imprint: What is the background to Hand Print and what are its aims?

EM: We chose to call it Hand Print this year to reflect our stated goal of promoting traditional print techniques while also embracing the new. All prints in our exhibitions must have an element of hand technique in them.

Our annual members’ exhibition is an opportunity for our members with all levels of experience to show their work in a professional setting. Less experienced members learn from the more experienced ones about framing, curating and how to manage an exhibition. We also aim to promote printmaking in WA to the widest possible audience. There were 69 entries from 28 printmakers. There will be collographs, monoprints, lino cuts, collaged works, mixed media to name a few techniques that will be represented.
Imprint: What are you thoughts about the WA printmaking scene – it seems to be very strong and cohesive?
EM: Considering WA is such a vast state with printmaking groups scattered across is we work together very well to assist and promote each other and to have our work recognised outside of the state and internationally.
Laura A. Taylor, WA Print Council of Australia, representative is doing a fabulous job of putting WA ‘On the Map’ as the forthcoming exhibition is called. There seems to be quite a resurgence of interest in the printmaking.
Imprint: What are the benefits to members belonging to organisations such as PAWA and the Print Council of Australia?
EM: Being a member of PAWA give our members access to our press and studio. We hold an annual members exhibition an host the bi annual Contemporary Print Media Awards. PAWA puts out a bi-monthly newsletter to which all members are invited to contribute.
PAWA also holds a monthly skill share session for members at our Tresillian Art Centre studio.We share lunch, print making ideas, learn new skills and practise new techniques. It is a social and learning occasion where the joy of collaborating in print can be experienced. We also hold regular workshops to provide tutoring in a variety of print techniques.
Sharing the vast experience and ability of our memberships is an important way to help printmaking in WA to continue to flourish. Being a member of the Print Council is invaluable in keeping us here in the west up to date with current nation wide news and opportunities for printmakers who can feel isolated by the distance of our state.
Hand Print is at Atwell Gallery, 586 Canning Highway, Alfred Cove, WA, until 23 July

How it unfolded: Artist Book Brisbane Event (ABBE) 2017

Above: Di Fogwell’s work at the artists’ book and multiples fair.
Right: Monica Oppen
Below: Noreen Grahame from Grahame Galleries and Editions.
Below right: Clyde McGill’s volunteers warm to their instruments.

Marian Crawford reports on ABBE 2017, held at Griffith University Queensland College of Art, Brisbane, on 6-7 July, held at the same time as the 6th artists’ books and multiples fair.

Convened by Queensland College of the Arts’ Dr Tim Mosely, the event looked a lot like a conference and talk-fest for some 65 thinkers, makers and a host of other keen participants who’d come to Brisbane from around Australia and beyond. Mosely called for papers that addressed the theme of ‘the fold’, drawing on philosopher Gille Deleuze’s thoughts about that edge that is not an edge, ‘the ideal fold is Zweifalt, a fold that both differentiates and is differentiated’.[1]

Two early-bird 8.30am keynote presentations set the tone. First, German collaborative duo USUS (Ulrike Stoltz and Uta Schneider) described the ways the fold might be found and employed in a book – the uncut page-fold waiting to be guillotined, horizontal folding folios or the vertically folded concertina, the thick folded fore-edge, the mountains and valleys of folds, and the inside-outside/verso-recto confusion of pages printed both sides. Divided into chapters, their presentation drew on philosopher Michel Serres’s understanding of crumpled time and space, and on Martin Heidegger’s concept ‘Ekstatikon’.

The second, more discursive, keynote presentation gave the audience a chance to make a music of sorts from books Clyde McGill had converted into sound-producing objects. Folded books wrapped in wiring were plugged into a mixing desk, and as the volunteers warmed to their new instruments and McGill’s suggestions – can we make the sound of binding a book? – a pleasing and musical cacophony filled the room. McGill also acknowledged Australia’s original inhabitants and their elders past and present in a discussion of his dark book Witness.

A day of shorter presentations followed each keynote. The artist book was described as having a ‘not-ness’ of exciting possibilities that are not book, artwork or architectural model (Marian Macken), and then as a ‘deformance’ where text is disrupted, letterpress type tipped on its tail and printed (Caren Florance & Angela Gardner). Protest and a vision of prisoners gazing towards the freedom of the sky was evoked by trembling hands and fold‘s publications (Paul Ulhmann). The inventive legacy of ANU’s Graphic Investigations Workshop was noted (Florance), and a new history of Australian art and artist books proposed (Monica Oppen). Personal and private histories were very sensitively revealed, and it was acknowledged we can never be ‘on the same page’ as the other (Ana Paula Estrada de Isolbi, Isaac Brown). The reciprocal nature of touch was linked to rock-climbing (Bridget Hillebrand) and also to a sense of belonging and hence to topography and place that was aptly demonstrated in a folded fabric made from soil and concrete (Tess Mehonoshen). The deviant woman was proposed as a disruptive stance to establish a subjectivity beyond copy culture (Carolyn Craig). The book was performed as a crawling paper being, shedding its pages to reform and be re-made and shed again (Julie and Virginia Barratt). ‘Knowing’ as dynamic activity was made distinct from given and static ‘knowledge’, in a possible theorisation of the book reaching back to Aristotle and Plato (Monica Carroll & Adam Dickerson).

And this is to mention just a few of the ideas tossed into the ring. Many of these papers will be published by Brad Freeman in JAB, the legendary Chicago based Journal of Artists’ Books. Freeman’s presentation and very attendance added lustre to the occasion.

Mosely, closing the gab-fest, suggested that we-the-audience might be the generators of the next book ‘event’. Given the thoughtful quality of the papers presented and the enormous goodwill, warmth and enthusiasm generated by the event, this seems a very likely scenario.


[1] Quoted by Arkady Plotnitsky in “Algebras, Geometries and Topologies of the Fold” in Between Deleuze and Derrida, Edited by Paul Patton & J Protevi. Continuum, London, 2003, p. 104. Accessed 11.7.17

AHC McDonald: ‘Five Pieces of Sand’

Above: AHC McDonald, Five Pieces of Sand, 2017, freehand rubber stamps using archive ink on 5 panels of Rives BFK paper, 401 cm x 120 cm.
Right and below, details from Five Pieces of Sand.

AHC McDonald talks about the large-scale four-metre-wide work Five Pieces of Sand.

Imprint: What led to your development of this artwork from a technical perspective – choice of process and materials, for example?

AM: It was quite by chance that I started with rubber stamps. I was browsing books and saw one on the subject by UK artist Stephen Fowler.

I have been wanting to get involved in printmaking for a long time, (my background is photography), but the space and equipment was problematic. Equipment-wise, stamp-printing barely requires more than a scalpel. Fortunately, too, there has been a recent craze for ‘craft stamping’, making cards etc with pre-made rubber stamps, so the range and quality of inks available is surprisingly good.

Imprint: What sorts of ideas underpin the work, in terms of its content and impact?

AM: What are these spaces really like – these five beaches from Cottesloe to Scarborough? What do we as locals feel about them, but keep from outsiders? I wanted to throw in things like the shark attacks and the brutal parking regime of Cottesloe, the perverts in the dunes at Swanbourne and the violence and overwhelming unpleasantness of Scarborough. And across it all the dogs just keep walking. They are incredibly beautiful spots, but they are much more interesting than just beautiful. These are extremely idealised spaces, particularly important for how we present ourselves to the world, but even how we feel about ourselves. I made a study of part of the Cottesloe section, including sharks attacking a diver, for a small exhibition in Cottesloe and it had a huge reaction, negative and positive. It had to be taken off public display at one stage. On the other hand many people loved it and have wanted to buy it. Loved, hated and purchased. You can’t ask for a better reaction than that as an artist.

Imprint: Size obviously matters in this instance – can you please explain the background to how and why such a huge work came to be?

AM: I thought of making a big work covering a section of Perth coastline even before I cut my first stamp block. It just came to me that that is what I should print. I started making tests and studies for it the next day. A rubber stamp Bayeux Tapestry for Perth was the intention! I felt that the apparent naivety of the medium, such as its lo-fi resolution and bright colours could be set against a more serious theme and sophisticated composition. And most rubber stamp art is overwhelmingly small scale. I always want to do the opposite. I’m very grateful that the Fremantle Print Awards have accepted the piece, because it will be the first time I will have seen the whole thing up myself. I don’t have a four-metre long wall to see it all together.

Imprint: Has this adventure inspired you to do more work in a similar vein?

AM: I just love the medium – although in many ways rubber stamps are terrible things to use to make a print, especially something large! Some of the elements have four or five levels of masks and overprints and small pieces of rubber are incredibly difficult to register. The ink dries in seconds, almost before you can get the block to the paper, and you have to hammer every impression with your fist. It’s very time-consuming and easy to make a mistake that could ruin the whole thing. Having said that, building up a composition from many, many small elements means that you are essentially painting with prints, and every piece will be as unique as a painting.

I have been working at a number of pieces, although not at quite this scale, which you can see here

I have in mind a similar large-scale treatment for a section of Melbourne’s inner west, where I have family connections. But I need to find someone with a very big spare table over there.

Between the Sheets: Artists’ Books 2017 – Australian Galleries

Kestutis Vasiliunas, Tea-Book, tea bags, rope, 32 x 23 x 1 cm
Below right:
Pam Langdon, Under the Eaves, (detail) 2016, 31 reconstructed books, recycled blackbutt and jarrah, 25 x 29 cm each
Lesley LeGrove, Precious Weighted Words and Layers, ceramic sheets, plant fibre papers, words on shellac tissue, gold leaf ceramic pear, 17 x 32 x 25 cm
Bottom right:
Helen Malone, The Legacy of Silence, drawing, printmaking, ink pencil, image transfer, edition 2, 17 x 37 x 1 cm

Jack Callil surveys some of the work in Australian Galleries’ new exhibition of artists’ books.

Artists’ books have long tended to subvert the idea of a book itself. Holding a kind of authority, the form of a book is likely to command respect, and thus remain unaltered. Whether etched into stone, scrawled onto papyrus, transformed by Gutenberg, or digitised by the Kindle, its form is usually fluid and transforming. Despite the creativity behind its evolution, text has usually dominated aesthetics—but artists’ books challenge that notion.

In association with Gallery East, the Australian Galleries exhibition Between the Sheets: Artists’ Books 2017 includes more than 70 artists’ books from an international swathe of artists from eleven countries. Each piece differs dramatically, reflecting the variety of expertise of the artists involved: photographers, sculptors, printmakers, wordsmiths, painters, digital artists and more.

Some artists’ books in the exhibition are visual spectacles, such as Pam Langdon’s Under the Eaves­­­—a reconstitution of book pages into a floral cross-section through intricate curlicues. Or Stephan Spurrier’s Stranger in the Garden, a series of five chaotic, psychedelic collages exploring some sinister facets of our perception of gardens.

Other artists’ books represent the passing of time. Kęstutis Vasiliūnas’s The Tea Book is a hand-woven collection of each tea bag he used throughout one year. Naturally delicate, the book is worn by gloves whereas Lorraine Kwan’s Time to Change the Sheets is a sturdy, plastic-wrapped single-page book of lint—every piece of lint she retrieved from her dryer during one year.

Some artists pay homage to writers, such as in Clyde McGill’s Dreaming of Murakami (Kafka One and Two). A pamphlet collection of blue-and-white etchings, each one depicts either a cat or bowl—an allusion to motifs in Kafka on the Shore, a novel by Japanese author Haruki Murakami.

Janis Nedela is Co-Director of Gallery East with David Forrest, and co-curated the exhibition. Nedela explains how the evolution of artists’ books reveals it hasn’t always been a respected art form. ‘In the early ’70s they were frowned upon, because they were considered only as ideas, not the real thing inside the book,’ he says. ‘But that’s changed. These artists are established in their own right, they might be painters, sculptors, printmakers, etcetera. But with books, they’re just another side to their art. Another way to express some of their ideas. Some of these books take as long to create as an oil painting, or a sculpture.’

When asked why people are drawn to this particular form, artists and audience alike, Nedela touches on the idea of familiarity. ‘People feel comfortable with a book,’ he says. ‘And they may be more comfortable with it than a painting or sculpture, or something totally abstract. But when they see a book, they know it.’

Between the Sheets: Artists’ Books 2017 is at Australian Galleries in Collingwood, Melbourne (13 June-2 July)

Denise Gillies and Lynne Mitchell

Denise Gillies and Lynne Mitchell, Traces in Time, 2017, dyptich collagraph, chine colle, collage, Blind embossed on handmade paper with cotton threads mounted on found handmade paper
Below right:
Denise Gillies  and Lynne MitchellConstellar 1, 2017, collagraph on hand made paper with hand printed fabric overlay and hand stitched cotton mounted on Indigo card
Bottom right:
Denise Gillies (right) and Lynne Mitchell (left) at work.

Denise Gillies and Lynne Mitchell discuss their collaboration for Bunbury Regional Art Galleries show On the Same Page.

Imprint: You both have an interest in the very broad area of landscape- can you give some background to your individual approaches to this and how you  encountered each other’s  practice and how it lead to this show?

Denise Gillies and Lynne Mitchell: Landscape is indeed a broad term that we both use to describe our individual works. In saying that, it may be landscape per se with some recognizable elements, very abstracted landscapes or it may be to do with the environment and man’s impact upon it.  Both of us also often include elements of time passing and history in our individual pieces.

At least some of our focus on landscape most likely stems from both growing up in rural areas, although in different countries, Australia (Denise) and England (Lynne).  Certainly Lynne’s background as a geologist definitely has a bearing on her choice of subject matter. We are also strongly influenced by the area where we both live, the Ferguson Valley, a beautiful area of small farms, hills and forests to the south of Perth, WA.

We had both been working and exhibiting separately as printmakers for some years before Lynne and her husband moved south to live here.  Consequently we met as members of The Southwest Printmakers group and exhibited together in various group shows for a few years.  From the beginning people commented on the visual similarities in a lot of our work, and most of this was from before we had even met.

We both do a lot of collagraphs while not restricted to this technique. Our individual works are often layered both on the paper with a variety of printmaking techniques, but also metaphorically in the way a piece’s content may be interpreted. And while we may branch out from traditional printmaking by introducing mixed media, our art is always print-based.

The idea of a collaboration grew from discussions around our commonality of print process and more importantly our like-mindedness.  Initially we planned to have a joint exhibition with just two or three collaborative pieces with the rest made up of our individual works. However, like many of our other plans, once we got started the end result was quite different.

Imprint: In collaborating how did you approach the nitty gritty of forming ideas and then making them work?

DG/LM: We thought collaborating might be difficult.  In fact it proved surprisingly easy.

Our exhibition title, On the Same Page, was decided long before any work was done.   It became our guiding principle and as our collaboration got underway we continually referred back to this title.

Initially there was a lot of brainstorming and writing of ideas.  This was only about the proposed collaborative pieces as we had decided that our individual pieces would be up to each of us. Having exhibited together over several years and become friends, we had confidence our individual pieces would work well in any exhibition.

One of the first working steps was to actually make most of the paper we used. We made it from leftover edges torn from our individual prints and we also integrated small pieces of actual discarded prints from both of us into the paper mush.  Hence we ensured we were both always On the Same Page.  This hand-made paper features in most of our collaborative works.

All our collaborative works were done with each of us in the same studio working side by side. We jointly made and printed small collagraph plates. We each printed fabric. We worked together composing the various elements of each artwork . Every step was a joint effort. (‘What about this?’, ‘Shall we put this here?’ ‘I prefer this colour’ etc. ) Our original plan was that each of us would make a plate or do a piece of art in her own studio then give it to the other to add to in some way. That never eventuated as we found the pieces we were most happy with, were those produced when we worked on them at the same time.

Imprint: What are some of the joys and possible pitfalls of working in this combined manner?

DG/LM: We only had joys in our collaboration. We grew in confidence in what we could do the longer we worked together. Because neither of us is precious about her work and because of the trust we had in each other the whole process was extremely smooth. We liked what we were producing and marveled that it was so different from our individual works.

In the end we produced seven individual pieces each and twelve collaborative pieces.

We can imagine there could be many pitfalls for others embarking on this process. Personality plays an important part in a collaboration such as ours. We think there could be major clashes unless each person was prepared to put his/her ego to one side. Two people working as we did, would need to trust and respect the other’s art practice. The temptation to dominate or overrule could lead to the loss of both a professional and a personal friendship.

We went into this collaboration with confidence our personalities were compatible enough that we could push through any possible pitfalls if they arose.  Luckily for us none did and it all worked.

Imprint: Now this work is complete what are your reflections on the ways others might respond to or encounter your work?

Because the exhibition has been opened and we have given artists’ talks we have had the opportunity to gauge the opinions of others.

When we first said we intended to do collaborative work, most people found it difficult to grasp how it could happen. When we explained how we had worked together, our artist friends in particular found it hard to believe. In other collaborations we have researched, the artists have worked independently on either the other’s work or plate to produce a single piece.  So far, we haven’t been able to find any other examples of artists working as we did.

Now the artworks are on display peoples reactions have been gratifying. However, people are surprised that the style is, as our friend who opened the exhibition said, as if there is a third artist. The work we have produced is far from anything else either of us has ever done. Little of either of our individual styles is present in the collaborative pieces.  Comments on our individual works are also interesting.  The general consensus is that our individual works are more confident and vary considerably from previous works.

We enjoyed the collaborative process immensely.  Not only did we produce a body of work of which we are very proud, but we had a lot of fun doing it. This collaborative process is something we plan to develop further.

On the Same Page is at Bunbury Regional Art Galleries until 17 August

Squatters and Savages: Ballarat Art Gallery

Megan Evans and Peter Waples-Crowe, still from Squatters and Savages, 2017, HD video – 06:00
Below right:
Megan Evans and Peter Waples-Crowe, Sovereign, 2017, Victorian era bedroom chair, leather, carving forks
Megan Evans and Peter Waples-Crowe, Bleeding Chandelier, 2017, antique chandelier, glass beads
Bottom right:
Megan Evans and Peter Waples-Crowe, Hunting Party 2, 2017, antique chair, embroidery thread, glass beads

Artists Peter Waples-Crowe and Megan Evans speak with Jack Callil about the Squatters and Savages exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ballarat.


Imprint: What is the Squatters and Savages exhibition about?

Peter Waples-Crowe: I was asked to reimagine some 19th century prints of Indigenous people the Art Gallery of Ballarat collects. It started in 2013 when I was using old images of Aboriginal people in collage techniques to revise them—and it grew out of that. The Gallery had this collection of Indigenous prints and didn’t know what to do with it. But they wanted an Indigenous person to work with it, so that’s how the project came along.

Imprint: What are you both trying to communicate through the artwork?

PW-C: What I’m trying to do in my work is bring some of these works into the contemporary. As a gay Aboriginal fella, some of them comment on that. Some comment on Aboriginal history. Things that weren’t covered then—that we’re not just objects of ornaments, we’re living people. I’ve put them in living scenarios and used a lot of sarcastic humour. I’m fascinated by the images themselves as an Aboriginal person because they don’t seem to represent me as a contemporary Aboriginal person.

Megan Evans: And I have a different perspective from Peter. My perspective is from someone of a colonial settler heritage. I’m interested in how someone in the 21st century can take responsibility for actions of people from the past—particularly people you’ve descended from. One of the things that I’ve always felt missing from the whole ‘Sorry’ apology movement, which went on for a long time and still goes on, is that no-one has really taken responsibility. The mistake a lot of people make is they think, ‘Well, it wasn’t me, it was something that happened in the past’.

Imprint: What reasons did you have for collaborating with one another, and what did it achieve?

ME: I’ve collaborated a lot in the past with Indigenous artists, but this was really special. We collaborated conceptually, but we didn’t work on each another’s work—other than the video piece—we just did our own response to these prints. So I think the benefit of working together was that our works bounced off one another, and his approach was different to mine, but we both responding to the same thing.

PW-C: Megan’s great grandparents were Scottish/Irish too, and they settled back in this place in north-eastern Victoria. And my mob are Ngarigo, and we go back up a bit further. So we come from a similar location, same sort of history, so that was sort of magic as well. And the show is much stronger with the two of our works there. Megan uses revisions of colonial furniture, and I was struck by her craftsmanship. I was interrogating that similar space, so I thought it would be amazing to work together. And I love collaborations.

Imprint: There’s an idea of inherited guilt in Australia – how did you approach that in this work?

ME: Peter asked me once if my work was all about ‘white guilt’. And I said it’s not about guilt, and that I don’t think guilt is a useful thing at all. In fact, guilt is a violent thing. All it does is suppresses the people who’ve been oppressed. They feel bad in bringing anything up, and they can’t get angry, they can’t express their pain.

PW-C: Yeah, Megan doesn’t want guilt. She says there’s this responsibility that people own up for that era. That’s what has to happen for true reconciliation. People have to see they’ve taken their white privileges at the expense of other people. A lot of Aboriginal art is about telling stories that haven’t been told, or were written out of history. History goes to the victor. Aboriginal history is written by non-Aboriginal people. We’re not in control of our own history. We’re trying to recapture that. Just trying to tell some stories. Tell some truths. I think people take that away. – Jack Callil

Squatters and Savages is at Ballarat Art Gallery until 16 July

Rona Green: Bendigo Art Gallery

Rona Green, Submission Magician, 2014, hand-coloured linocut, 56 x 76 cm
Below right:
Rona Green, Shitehawk vs Dirck ‘Foo-Foo’ De Cock, 2015, hand-coloured linocut, 72 x 108 cm
Rona Green, McGoohan, 2015, hand-coloured linocut, 51 x 66 cm
Bottom right: Rona Green at work.

Curator Jessica Bridgfoot discusses Rona Green’s new exhibition Champagne taste and lemonade pockets at Bendigo Art Gallery.

Imprint: What was the history behind mounting this exhibition, and how was Green’s work significant for the Bendigo Art Gallery?

Jessica Bridgfoot: Rona studied printmaking at La Trobe University here in Bendigo and graduated in 1995. During and since that time Rona has remained very active and visible in the Bendigo arts scene – exhibiting regularly at what is now the La Trobe Art Institute – which is directly across the road.  Rona’s work is so distinctive and the characters she has cultivated in her practice have become almost local heroes here. Of course, we felt it fitting that Green’s menagerie of dogs, rabbits, cats and birds come to Bendigo Art Gallery to ‘roost’ in what is a survey exhibition of the last decade of her printmaking practice.

Imprint: Green works a lot with ideas about identity – can you discuss the background to this and how it manifests in some of the works in the exhibition?

JB: Green’s ‘para human’ characters are absolutely unique but there is also a subtle unnerving familiarity about them which creates not only an interesting tension in the works but a kind of entry point for the audience. There are a number of devices Green uses to construct and disrupt notions of identity: the use of tattoos, clothing and body language all play on our embedded collective psyche and the way we ‘categorise’ the world. For example, Green’s work  Submission Magician is firstly a kind of brazen Aussie bloke, decorated in tattoos that suggest nationalist pride (the Southern Cross, Eureka flag), he has the head of a dalmatian and the body of young, lean man. His stance suggests that of an aggressor – maybe on the cusp of a confrontational head-butt – or perhaps he is taking a selfie, baring his allegiances to the world. We recognise Submission Magician as we have seen him somewhere before – he’s a family member, a neighbour, or the angry bloke pacing up and down the supermarket carpark, but somewhere beyond this artifice (in his soulful, puppy-dog eyes) there is also a vulnerability. In this way, Green’s work highlights our (predominantly Western) ascribed value systems and the dichotomies of identity – a serious subject delivered in the form of a playful punch.

Imprint: What were some of the elements of Green’s work you wanted to draw out and play with in the show?

JB: I wanted to convey the feeling that the characters in the works are active and very much alive and tried to reflect this in the hang, to play with notions of the gaze, the works aren’t passive – their eyes follow you around the room! The compositions or framing of Green’s subjects is a key device used cleverly by the artist. Green claims to frame her characters at portrait or ‘mirror’ height (i.e. from the waist up) to allow the audience a moment of self-reflection and in this sense the idea of the subject’s gaze (who is gazing at whom?) can be quite provoking. Many of Green’s characters are rather unnerving. Being confronted by a whole room of them can be a slightly surreal experience – as if the lights go out and they all get together to play midnight poker in the gallery.

Imprint: Are Green’s working methods, from a technical perspective, strongly influential on her compositions and aesthetic distinctiveness?

JB: Since her art student days Green has maintained a distinct aesthetic – notably the graphic use of bold black line. This kind of visual style was possibly shaped by her early use of linocut that lends itself to line-based work. Interestingly there are parallels between the way Green works as a printmaker and the way a tattoo artists works on the skin. Green prints in black ink on paper and then painstakingly hand-colours her work using watercolour and pigment inks – much the way a tattoo artist colours in between the outline of his/her design. This exhibition is a survey of the last ten years of Green’s printmaking practice, and while there are subtle nuances within her technique, the bold, vibrant, graphic language remains strong and I think that sense of conviction and cohesion in her technical process is one of the strengths of her work – that it is the language of Rona Green.

– Andrew Stephens

Champagne taste and lemonade pockets is at Bendigo Art Gallery  24 June-3 September

Milan Milojevic: Wunderkammerama

From top:
Milan Molojevic:
Wunderkammerama Objects, Digital prints, paper constructions and dome, 2017. Photo: Natalie Mendham



Fishface (the eyes follow you around the room), Digital print paper construction, 2017. Photo: Natalie Mendham


And your bird can sing, Digital prints, birds paper constructions and dome, 2017 (detail). Photo: Natalie Mendham

Milan Milojevic discusses Wunderkammerama, part of the Dark Mofo festival in Tasmania

Imprint: Can you outline the foundation ideas for this show, especially your interest in the wunderkammer?

MM: I was approached by Tracey Cockburn, Arts and Cultural Development Coordinator of the Rosny Farm, to see whether I would be interested in having an exhibition in the Rosny Barn as part of Dark Mofo. I was excited by the idea and put in a proposal and it was, thankfully accepted by Tracey and Dark Mofo. It’s a difficult venue , certainly not what I was used to, but it has a lot of atmosphere and I had to think outside of my usual exhibiting practice. My work for the past decade or so has focused on creating imaginary worlds and based on the Jorge Luis Borges book titled The Book of Imaginary Beings, published in 1967. My visual language is informed and inspired by the aesthetics and visual language developed by 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th century engravers and naturalist artists. I’m interested in museum diaoramas, the worlds Joseph
Cornell created. Wunderkammers and idiosyncratic collections and curiosities are also a strong influence on my work. So this exhibition gave me the opportunity to create my own wunderkammer, which offered a more challenging approach to my practice of breaking through the traditional two-dimensional print and creating three-dimensional paper constructions- objects in domes, small sculptural hybrids and an installation comprising of almost 200 printed birds. One of the highlights was a series of prints that had the surface embellished with beads and glitter by my wife Joybelle, who is an artist/sculptor.
Imprint: What were the challenges with putting this show together from a printmaking perspective?
MM: The challenges were in the space itself, there were restrictions because of its heritage status, there was  no way I could hang work directly on the beautiful sandstone walls, there were panels but I didn’t like that look so I wallpapered a number of panels. The building had great ambience and atmosphere so I realised it had to be a ‘theatrical’ installation and the idea of a wunderkammer fitted really well.
Imprint: Tell us about the imagery contained and how you compiled and explored these?
MM: I guess the exhibition gave me the opportunity to push the imagery further into sculpture. One work comprises 44 books of different sizes covered with my images, so it looks like a mini library, titled Unnatural histories.
Imprint: Is the setting for the show of especial interest – likewise is its inclusion in Dark Mofo significant?
MM: It is important, it’s great to have been included in Dark Mofo – the list of artists, performers, musicians is impressive – and I felt that I had to really lift my game to be involved and that was a great inspiration for my practice. It was a great risk in trying something else and it has now given me some great ideas to carry on with.

– Andrew Stephens

Wunderkammerama is at Rosny Barn, Hobart, until June 25

Lisa Sewards: Port Jackson Press

From top:
Lisa Sewards, Secrets, 2017unique state, etching, 28 x 22cm.
Lisa Sewards, Cloudy memory, 2017pigment print on cotton rag 300gsm
image 90x116cm, paper 110 x 136 cm, edition of 3
Lisa Sewards,  Grey Cloud, 2017unique state, oil on board, etching overlay, 24 x 24cm
Lisa Sewards, Love, 2017, unique state etching, collage, 34 x 28 cm

Lisa Sewards, Cloudy Memory, at LWOO Port Jackson Press Print Gallery

Imprint: Please describe the initial inspiration for this exhibition and how the experience provoked you?

Lisa Sewards: I have always attempted to convey a story and notions of reflection within my artworks.  As part of my preparation for creating I extensively research my subject matter, always searching and probing.  Back in 2013 my first large scale solo exhibition entitled White Parachute involved eighteen months of research and was pivotal to my artwork going forward.

My sketches, photographs and memories from several years ago when a close family member unexpectedly took flight and left behind clouded secrets provoked Cloudy Memory.  As a result this small body of work has resulted in the union of symbolic clouds, the parachute and a lone figure.

Imprint: Why do you think we human beings so love to gaze at clouds?

Lisa Sewards: I believe we all find Clouds very beautiful, mysterious and romantic.  We get lost in them if we find the time to gaze up at them, we want to touch them, float on them… and for me in this instance, combined with the parachute, they represent a portal, a womb of obscurity, where personal secrets were carried away.

Imprint: Clouds have featured so richly in the history of art – did this have any bearing on your work?

Lisa Sewards: Early in my arts practice under the guidance of Melbourne painter Sarah Tomasetti her beautiful works of the natural world influenced the way I approached my art.   Her teachings led me to “skying” reminiscent to the English Artist John Constable’s practice of making sketches of the sky and its moods, noting cloud formations and their elusive shifts in colour and light.  Included in this show are small oil paintings indirectly influenced by this past that have an etching overlay fusing both painting and printmaking.

The diverse and complex Printmaking processes influence my current practice.  I admire the varied Cloud imagery you find in many present and past Printmaking applications especially in Japanese woodcuts and wood engravings with those delicious clouds once created by William Blake.

Imprint: Why was printmaking the best process for this project?

Lisa Sewards: My Printmaking techniques continually evolve and incorporate traditional intaglio methods, etching using solar plates and also digital pigment prints.  This project has incorporated all these Printmaking methods in small intimate passive works and also allowed the mood to be captured perfectly in a large-scale velvety Cloud pigment print.

Imprint: How have your aspirations been realised in this exhibition?

Lisa Sewards: The parachute object remains at the heart of my arts practice and continues to be a fundamental inspiration, with many hanging throughout my studio.  I see so much beauty in the parachute, from its pure functional form to its rich association with past stories I have uncovered. To many people, myself included, they provide a universal symbol of strength, hope, security and grace.

Here in Cloudy Memory my parachute feels at home amongst the Clouds… the direction of the imagery has achieved its passive and tender display of love and reflection and the intimate space of Port Jackson Press Print Gallery’s LWOO is very fitting for their viewing… to compliment the artwork entitled Love that depicts the lone figure about to take flight, I have shaped a vintage white parachute canopy into a ‘fallen cloud’; it lays beneath this work and represents a metamorphosis return to the womb in the guise of an allusive cumulus. – Andrew Stephens

Cloudy Memory is at LWOO, Port Jackson Press Print Gallery, (23 June-6 July)