A Postcard from Sonya Hender: Print Week at Quick Whippet Studio

All images were taken during Print Week at Quick Whippet Studio and are courtesy of Sonya Hender.

The Quick Whippet printmaking studio at Port Elliot is located at the creative hub of Factory Nine, conveniently next to a coffee roaster. Port Elliot is small seaside town in the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia, with a population of about 2000 people during winter. It possibly has some similarities to the fictional Portwenn in Cornwall!

One of the aims of the studio is to provide a printmaking experience through
community events and open access studios. The doors to our large shed were open for five days and we had a number of visitors who came to learn screenprinting, non-toxic etching, lino and wood carving. Many young participants are employed in the town in a combination of part time work and study. The person who works at the bakery in the morning may serve you coffee at a café in the afternoon or dinner at the local restaurant. The ‘word of mouth’ about Print Week through these informal networks worked very well and the numbers of novice printmakers increased throughout the week.

We were also fortunate to have the participation of two very talented art teachers from local schools who have attended a series of workshops at the Quick Whippet Studio and know how to quickly locate specific materials. Workshops by Kathy Boyle, Geoff Gibbon, David Frazer, Christobel Kelly and Simone Tippett have been a great base for our open studios. Continuing interest in these artists and their various techniques contributed to our Print Week accompanied by much laughter and very inky hands.

Emma Sirona-MacDonald and I facilitated the various sessions and we enjoyed the fresh approach and problem solving of our participants. We learned that it was important to be flexible, supportive and to match different processes to individuals through a brief consultation on arrival. Some have done specific techniques at school and wanted to try something different, though specific iconography and screenprinting were very popular with our younger group. Some just wanted to work in companionable silence to music and the cosy wood fire. We enjoyed participants developing non-traditional techniques or creating new ways to print. The studio now has an interesting collection of objects, which were used as a starting point for a print.

We had to learn not to worry about ‘inky’ equipment and benches, while substitute and less expensive felts were useful. At the end of the day, we didn’t always have time to restore the studio, but in the mornings we were met with the welcoming sight of drying prints waiting to be collected, the beginning of new work and the rearrangement of work spaces, which made it all very rewarding. The Quick Whippet Studio will be relocating to a heritage building (formerly the Post Office), at 41 ‘The Strand’, Port Elliot, which is in the main street leading to the beach. We will be able to offer some evening sessions in our next Print Week to be held in October 2016. From 1 August, there will be a permanent exhibition of works from South Australian printmakers in the adjoining ‘Strand Gallery’. Given local enthusiasm and support of wonderful artists and teachers, the interest in printmaking in our town may rival other activities, although perhaps not surfing!