A Postcard from Simone Tippett: 50 Prints in 50 Hours

During the first weekend of March 2016, over sixty printmakers and five studios in Auckland and South Australia printed simultaneously and collaboratively for nearly 100 hours. Participating studios:

Adelaide, AUS
Union St Printmakers (Simone Tippett)
Tooth & Nail (Jake Holmes & Joshua Searson)
Quick Whippet Studio (Sonya Hender, in Pt Elliot SA)
Studio Nick (Nick Falkner, in a Singapore Hotel)

Auckland, NZ
Blue Bathtub Press
(Toni Mosley)
Nathan Homestead

Clockwise from top: prints produced during the print marathon by the Union St Printmakers; participating printmakers at Blue Bathtub Press; participating printmakers at Union St Printmakers.

The idea of a community print marathon was conceived by Toni Mosley and Simone Tippett at the Eighth Australian Print Symposium at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, in May 2015. Toni and Simone swapped notes and got excited about Prue MacDougall’s (NZ) and James Pasakos’s (AUS) travelling print exchange Thinking of Place. They decided to organise a community print marathon, to happen simultaneously in Auckland and Adelaide, aiming for fifty prints in fifty hours, to celebrate the Print Council of Australia’s fiftieth anniversary in 2016. At the same time they hoped to bring people together to hang out over their presses, do something a little crazy and have fun.

Prints produced during the print marathon by Tooth & Nail.

Together, participants created monoprints by playing with each other’s plates and paper, randomly printing over each other’s work. From the results, fifty completed prints will be selected from each city, twenty-five of which will be swapped with the other city. Later this year each city will exhibit their twenty-five prints alongside the twenty-five prints given by the other city. All of the prints will be available for sale at the exhibitions. And all participants will receive a zine commemorating their involvement. (The zine will consist of prints from both regions.)

The theme of the print marathon was Compass, in part because of the different locations of the participating studios, and also because compasses look great on prints.

A print produced during the print marathon by the Union St Printmakers.

The prints are fabulously and unpredictably layered, having evolved in random and unspecified ways. Small groups of artists collectively made intuitive decisions, responding to each other and making their choices aesthetically. A print was declared ‘finished’ when a small number of the group (or an individual) decided the image felt complete. Each studio evolved its own unofficial aesthetic and, as the marathon played out, aesthetics developed and changed within studios over the course of the day as the participants came and went …

Prints produced during the print marathon by Blue Bathtub Press.

In all, it was a seriously fun and rewarding weekend. We plan to do it again, with even more studios next year. We hope it will become SOOOOO popular that we will awake one day to discover we’ve taken over the world with gatherings of folk monoprinting. Let’s face it, what printmaker doesn’t like to hang out and have fun? Yay!

Prints produced during the print marathon by Quick Whippet Studio.

Final Tally

Over sixty printmakers (ranging from kids and beginners, to experienced printmakers).
Five printmaking studios.
Auckland: over sixty finished prints in thirty-eight hours at one location (in two stretches of thirty-three and five hours respectively).
South Australia: over ninety finished prints in fifty-nine hours, in four locations and with fifty-eight people involved.
Most unusual print: carved soap print from coffee grounds by Studio Nick in a Singapore Hotel (see his account of printing recycled coffee grounds from hotel soaps below).
Consumed: hundreds of cups of tea and coffee, many pizzas and a few beers.
Happiness and joy: beyond words!
Likelihood of it happening again: absolutely!

Prints produced during the print marathon by Tooth & Nail.

Tips for Hotel Room Printers

Nick Falkner, a Union St Printmaker, was overseas at the time of the print marathon. Not one to miss out, he participated from his Singapore studio (ahem, hotel room) with found materials and limited art supplies:

Prints produced during the print marathon by Studio Nick (Nick Falkner) and process images from Nick Falkner‘s hotel room printing session.

I had so much fun doing this. The next time you are on a trip, it’s a real blast to run off some quick prints from soap and coffee grounds, on the run. Then, during clean up, you can use what’s left of your printing block in the shower. Total recycling! 

  1. Almost every hotel room has teeny tiny soaps that are almost useless. It turns out that this is because they are designed for printmaking and make excellent blocks.
  2. Tea spoons make quite acceptable carving styluses and barens (if you have a small brush, use the hard end as that’s great).
  3. Hotel windows make great light boxes (during the day).
  4. Soap is absorbent (duh) so watch your liquid levels as you have a limited time to print and, the more you print, the softer the block gets unless you let it dry out. When in doubt, just print.
  5. Coffee grounds make a tolerable sepia, with 3D effect.
  6. Poster colours and coffee don’t mix well but they do mix. Use that opacity in your favour!
  7. Coffee cups and saucers can be used as mixing stations.
  8. Hotel rooms are full of textures for rubbing, to add background.
  9. The space above the bar fridge is toasty and makes a great drying rack.
  10. Work in the bathroom, if you can. Everything in there is designed to be cleaned easily and you won’t make any mess for the cleaning staff.

It’s awesome fun. I’m going to do this again!