Marguerite Brown’s Postcard from the Sunshine Coast

Clockwise from top: Judy Watson surrounded by participating artists in the Regional Marks exhibition; viewers admiring the artist books of Helen Sanderson at Regional Marks; full house at Regional Marks opening.

This year the PCA had the good fortune of being invited to hold our Annual General Meeting at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. The event that brought us to this very beautiful part of Australia was the occasion of the Regional Marks exhibition, held at the University of the Sunshine Coast Gallery, as part of our fiftieth anniversary Year of Print celebrations. This region is full of talented artists who use printmaking to explore various thematic, conceptual and technical approaches resulting in a really exciting and diverse exhibition. The opening night on Thursday 19 May was a full house, with opening addresses by Gallery Curator Lou Jaeger, exhibition Curator Catherine Monéy, PCA President Akky van Ogtrop, and contemporary artist Judy Watson.

Following Catherine and Lou’s fantastic introduction, Akky gave the audience an insight into the history of the PCA, from its early formation by Dr Ursula Hoff and Grahame King at the NGV print room in the late 1960s to the vibrant organisation it is today. While Judy spoke of the various works in the show, noting the rich connection to the natural world expressed by many, and describing a sense of the artwork as a nourishing force for viewer and maker alike.

Clockwise from top: Sunshine Coast printmaker Susan Bowers showing Kate Gorringe-Smith one of her exquisite artist books; work by the Cooroora Institute at USC Gallery Regional MarksClaude Jones‘s work at Caloundra Regional Gallery.

The following day Queensland Committee Representative Tory Richards led PCA committee reps from other states and myself on a tour of some of the many artist studios and galleries in the hinterlands of the Sunshine Coast. Taking in spectacular views of rolling valleys and the Glass House Mountains on the way, we were given a sneak peek into the private working spaces of local artists and a great insight into their methodologies and concepts explored. Sincere thanks to Stephanie McLennan, Susan Bowers, Fiona Demptser and Barry Smith for opening their studios to us and for their warmth and hospitality, and for Art on Cairncross gallery for showing us their space.

Glass House Mountains

Between absorbing fabulous artworks plus the natural grandeur of the region, by the end of the day we were approaching sensory overload – but of the best possible kind!

It was back to business on Saturday 21, with the AGM taking place and with new and returning committee members being voted into the PCA Committee. Thanks to all of the PCA members who attended the meeting, and the subsequent Panel Discussion on that always contentious question ‘What is Print?’ With Akky van Ogtrop chairing the discussion as MC, contemporary artist and former PCA Vice President Jan Davis, fellow artists Stephen Spurrier and Russell Craig discussed issues surrounding how we define print in the twenty-first century and the multifarious ways artists engage with printmaking both in traditional forms, and as an expanded practice.

‘What is Print?’ being debated in a panel discussion at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Panelists (from left) Russell Craig, Jan Davis, Stephen Spurrier and MC Akky van Ogtrop.

Then it was off to the Caloundra Regional Gallery, where we imbibed champagne and a delicious spread while listening to the fascinating introduction to the current exhibition Animal fanfare: humans – animals – environment by Gallery Curator Hamish Sawyer. It was great to see the gallery embrace the work local artists by dedicating a special space to the display local printmakers’ work in their feature artist section. A fine way to finish what was a brilliant visit to the Sunshine Coast. Sincere thanks to Tory Richards for her hospitality and tireless work in planning the program of events, and all those involved in welcoming the Print Council with such generosity. We look forward to the next visit!

A visit to the beautiful studio of Malaney printmaker Stephanie McLennan pictured standing, and PCA committee members (from left) Tory Richards, Kate Gorringe-Smith, Jan Davis, Akky van Ogtrop, artist Susan Bowers and committee member Jill O’Sullivan.

Marguerite Brown is General Manager of the Print Council of Australia.