WA: Contemporary Print Media Awards

Above: Shelley Cowper, Composition 2, 2018, unique state, collograph and woodcut with mixed media, 74cm x 55cm. Image courtesy of the artist. Winner of Table Top Etching Press valued at over $2000 from Future Engineering. Right: Bethwyn Porter, On the banks of the Swan, 2018 monotype, 57cm X 39cm. Image courtesy of the artist. Below: Opening night, Moores Building Contemporary Art Gallery, image courtesy by PAWA. Bottom: Exhibition view, Moore’s Building Contemporary Art Gallery, photograph by Monika Lukowska

The Contemporary Print Media Awards 2018 organised by The Printmaker’s Association of Western Australia (PAWA) is a great opportunity to see a wide range of Western Australian prints. Monika Lukowska asks this year judges, Melanie McKee, Emma Jolley and Carl Altman to discuss the awarded works and provide some insight into the condition of print in WA.

What is the most unusual work entered in the competition, and why did you think this?

Melanie McKee: Fleur V May’s War Games was a drypoint with Chine-collé that took the form of a childhood paper game – the chatterbox. This was a playful and exploratory venture into alternative print formats.

Emma Jolley: A.H.C McDonald’s The Gap was the work I found most unusual out of the selection of work on offer. The image was created using rubber stamps, yet it created a collage like arrangement of marks to form an abstracted rendition of ‘the Gap’ down south. I would be interested to see how this work was made in the studio.

How can you describe the winning prints?

MM: The winning prints were varied, ranging in technique and format from traditional woodcut relief print to a 3D artist book with a very mixed printmedia approach. I was pleased to see two artist books taking awards for the student (Chloe Henderson) and regional (Jane Button) categories. Both artists showed ambition and strong conceptual development in the works, along with some great technical skills. Highly commended was an outstanding aquatint by Elmari Steyn; a striking and powerful composition and subject matter. We were intrigued by the unusual composition, and the way Elmari had really responded to the constraints of the copper plate. Again, exemplary technical skill was shown in the work. Shelley Cowper’s winning work is outstanding, demonstrating a sensitive perception of color, composition and technique. Cower skillfully layered processes and colours, working across woodcut, collograph and mixed media to engage with the abstract subject matter. This is a rather quiet print that persistently called to us throughout the judging process.

EJ: The winner of Best Edition was the work that stayed in my thoughts longest. Emi Ninoseki’s Robin is a portrait of an older gentleman, in a typical portrait posture, gazing out to the right of the print. The way in which she has handled this woodcut is interesting in itself. It is difficult to determine how she began building this image up. The palette choices combined with the gaze of the subject create a very arresting figure with nostalgic qualities. This is the print that I could look at and question for an extended period of time.

How does traditional printmaking techniques and contemporary print work together for future sustainability of both genres?

MM: I was pleased to see such a range of processes in the award, many executed to a very high standard. Whilst traditional printmaking still holds strong, I was intrigued at the number of mono and unique state prints entered this year. For me this is exciting and indicates a shift in approaches to printmaking, where the notion of the edition takes a back seat to more exploratory ventures.

EJ: There are many inherent qualities in the traditions of printmaking that have seen the medium have such longevity. Although contemporary printmakers often don’t work within traditional parameters such as making editioned work, I feel that having such a strong tradition to draw from has created a hotbed of creativity. Traditions have allowed contemporary makers to have the foundation of exceptional technical skill, yet challenge this skill in order to merge disparate processes and techniques, creating innovative, original outcomes.

What are your thoughts about the condition of printmaking in WA?

Carl Altman: Printmaking does not receive publicity and quite frequently this art form is not taken seriously by some learning institutions.  This can be caused by adopting a ‘play-way’ approach.  Is the history of printmaking taught or are the instructors still in that era and mindset of regarding History of Art as a waste of time?  The Printmakers Association has worked very hard for decades and deserves full appreciation for what it is striving to bring to the public but it needs the support of others such as the art suppliers and educational centres. In the current exhibition, there seemed to be an over-abundance of mono-prints. Such works have value but traditionally the Art of printmaking was in achieving multiple copies all apparently the same to the naked eye. The artworks had to show the edition numbers and the clear edge of each print.  When the print run was complete the plate was destroyed. These traditional concerns are no longer considered as being necessary. Fingerprints on a glass are mono-prints and possibly only of interest in a crime scene.

Another consideration is mounting the works, as this provides finish and a concern for the protection of one’s own statement.  This also relates to content i.e. what is the work “saying”. Art is a specialised form of communication, a means by which comments are made without resorting to words. Meanings do not have to be complex.  An artwork can draw attention to the beauty of a subject as seen in the print by June Edwards entitled Koi and Ginko Leaves.  A print does not have to beautiful but can be challenging and thought provoking.

Will printmaking survive?  Of course, it will but it needs a lot of input and not from the same few and overworked practitioners.  

MM: In conjunction with longstanding and vital organizations like PAWA a range of new ventures such as Print Lab Australia and Swan River Print Studio have entered the field in recent months. Opportunities to improve skills and access to extended printmaking networks are better than ever. I think it’s a great time to be a printmaker in WA.

EJ: I think that printmaking in WA is alive and well. Western Australian printmakers seem to be very competent with traditional techniques however they seem to enjoy challenging traditions and also testing out how other medias can work alongside printed matter.

 

 

Damon Kowarsky: En France

Above: Damon Kowarsky, Mont Saint-Michel, 2017, etching and aquatint from two copper plates, 29 x 25 cm. Right: Damon Kowarsky, Montigny-le-Bretonneux, 2017, etching and aquatint from two copper plates, 21 x 31 cm. Below: Damon Kowarsky, a sketch of the Port of Dinan. Bottom: Damon Kowarsky, Rooftops, Mont Saint-Michel, 2017, etching and aquatint from two copper plates, 25 x 22 cm.

 

Nicolas Rivet talks with Damon Kowarsky about work springing from some time spent in a paradise.

Melbourne-based artist Damon Kowarsky leads an extensively peripatetic life, but when considering spending a summer in northwestern France as part of the Alfred and Trafford Klots International Program for Artists in 2016, he came across an image of Léhon—the town in which the residency is based—that was unlike anything he had ever seen before.

‘It was the idyllic picture postcard landscape,’ says Damon. ‘There was a stone bridge over a small village of dinky houses with slate roofs surrounded by a forest… It looked like paradise. How could I not apply?’

The program, founded by Isabel Klots in 1989, was set up to allow a new generation of artists to follow in the footsteps of her father-in-law Alfred and husband Trafford who spent many summers painting together in the French region of Brittany.

Kowarsky, along with his partner Hyun Ju Kim, were accepted into the program where they spent eight weeks in Léhon drawing, painting and refining their craft. En France is a collection of etchings inspired by the material gathered there during this time.

As the village itself is admired for its lavish presence of nature, Kowarsky jumped at the opportunity to explore the interaction between the natural and man-made world—an interest he had started to develop during an earlier visit to Japan.

‘It was a huge change for me,’ says Kowarsky, who up until this point had mostly worked with architecture and cityscapes. ‘A lot of other landscapes like New York, Cairo or Istanbul—they have very little nature. This was different. This was lush, really lush, and there were often more trees than buildings.

‘In fact, in some of my earlier prints, I would leave blank spots where the trees were meant to be because I hadn’t yet worked out a way of drawing vegetation. France cured that.’

While the second half of his time in Léhon was spent in the studio developing work for the exhibit, Kowarsky devoted the first four weeks of the program to planning and research alone. This meant he would wake up as early as 5am some mornings and spend the entirety of the day drawing and painting en plain air. It was during this time that he was able to experiment with elements of his art that were subjectively out of the norm.

‘I became really interested in colour because the colours were so spectacular,’ says Kowarsky. ‘This part of France had the most luscious green you could ever imagine and every shade of it too… Previously, I had worked with a lot of black and white and charcoal but it seemed like such a travesty to do that.’

The entire experience was refreshing for Kowarsky in the sense that it felt especially authentic. Unlike other residencies, as little as 100 applications were received—all of which were included in a semi-blind selection process where the work submitted was mostly assessed without the name of the artists attached. In the end, only eight were invited to participate.

It’s an approach Kowarsky believes should be taken more often. ’It’s not about what your name is or what theoretical crap you can deliver. It’s about whether or not your work is interesting.’

And while he’s already established himself as an artist, Kowarsky says his time spent in Léhon left a significant mark on his work, strengthening his skillset and igniting his love for landscapes—an impact evident in the etchings themselves.

‘I went in there as a drawer of cities and walked out as a painter of landscapes. It was a complete revelation.’

En France is at Sofitel Melbourne on Collins until 29 October.

Surya Bajracharya: Passengers

Above: Surya Bajracharya, Untitled 2, 2018, monotype, 40x40cm. Right: Untitled 3, 2018, monotype, 40x40cm. Below: Untitled 7, 2018, lithograph, 40x40cm.

Surya Bajracharya reflects on a recent exhibition and residency at Megalo Print Studio + Gallery.

Imprint: What is the premise for this exhibition and how have you been working towards it?

SB: The beginning of Passenger was mid-2016 when I was awarded a six-week residency that I painfully stretched out to late 2017… maybe even some of early 2018. (Thank you, Megalo—I love you.) This residency was a chance to work freely, unobserved and unhindered by old ideas.

Two independent series of work emerged. Initially, other than the 400 x  400mm format, I intended no real connection between the imagined monotypes and the photo-based lithographs, that I was simply leaving one for the other: a reactive release, giving in to the impulse to do so… I found it restorative, a way of balancing the differences in process, hoping to sustain/foster the excitement I felt making prints again, a way to ward off the onset of stagnation/boredom.

At some point, as I shuffled prints around from drying stack to plan draws to cardboard folders, I began to play with various arrangements, setting lithographs and monotypes next to each other, then separating them into pairs… things started falling into place, I could now visualise how it might all set together.

‘Passenger’ is a word that somehow felt right, fit perfectly, a word that seemed to drop out of the sky and explain something of the lithographs and monotypes I’d been making.

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

SB: We are all passengers. Some of us have destinations in mind, while others, are happy to stick a thumb out and chance a random ride.

As passengers, we are free to observe, daydream, contemplate, and half knowingly set aside responsibility in an uneasy equilibrium, that the fate of our journey is ultimately beyond control.

 The exhibition was opened by artist, friend and mentor Patsy Payne, and she found a quote by Aldous Huxley that I think sums it up well: ‘My fate cannot be mastered; it can only be collaborated with and thereby, to some extent, directed. Nor am I the captain of my soul, I am only its noisiest passenger…’

Hopefully visitors will be able to reflect on the works and align them with some of their own experiences. This is one reason I’ve left the works untitled—I wanted to make a space that was open to a viewer’s interpretation and that would let them engage on their own terms.

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

SB: The residency gave me the opportunity to try my hand at monotype, and I found its immediacy and simplicity really appealing and refreshing. The process lent itself to creating more emotional responses… images from memory and the imagination.

Lithography meanwhile has long been a primary medium for me, and it sat well alongside the monotype works to capture different aspects of the same idea. The extreme detail of the lithographs, working from photos, pushes realism into abstraction. The biggest challenge with litho, and so with creating this exhibition, is the huge time investment and labour-intensive process.

Imprint: What future projects are you working on?

SB: For now I’m having a bit of a rest and regroup, cooking up an idea for a show I’d like to curate with some Canberra region artists. Later this year I’ll have some work in More than Human, Anthropocene curated by Julian Laffan and Natasha Fijn for the ANU School of Art and Design Gallery.

 

 

RMIT ‘Open Bite’ auction

Above: Hannah Caprice, The Dry Salvages, 2017, etching and aquatint,  56 x 38 cm, 5/10 Below: Dan Zhou, Caosu-Mountain Inn, 2017, collotype print on Japanese paper, 24.8 x 18.6 cm, 2/5

Georgia Steele reports on the annual fundraiser for RMIT print imaging and photography.

What: RMIT Print Auction

When: 17 August, 6pm-10pm

Where: Location: Building 49 level 2 RMIT, 67 Franklin Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000

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Print Imaging Practice—Open Bite fundraiser

The popular annual RMIT print auction for graduate printmaking and photography students is here again. Each year students, staff and alumni donate work for the Open Bite print auction, and the funds raised go towards funding the graduate exhibition for third year print imaging practice students.

The live auction is an exciting event for students as well as the printmaking and photography community in Melbourne. Visitors can bid on quality art work at a fraction of gallery prices. There is a selection of both emerging and established artists’ work available, including that of RMIT staff such as Richard Harding, Andrew Gunnell and Richard Dott. Work will span mediums, including digital, collage, etching and screenprinting. Among the alumni exhibiting is Kyoko Imazu who graduated in 2007 in printmaking and who is well-known for her etchings, artist books and ceramics. The auction is generally seen as a great chance to acquire work from young artists before they become better established.

This event, accessible with a gold-coin donation, is the chief fundraising event of the year.

 

Viewing: 6-7pm

First-round auction: 7-8:30pm

Second-round Auction: 9-10pm

Jennifer Long: In Full Flight

Above: In Full Flight 3, 2018, collaged lino print, rust transference, etching, ink & wax on Hahnemuehle paper, 15 x 20 cm. Right: Passengers 1, 2018, solvent transfer image on white BFK Rives paper, 27 x 39 cm Below: The Waiting Game, 2/10 St1, 2018, 3 plate, 3 colour intaglio etching on white BFK Rives paper, Plate size 30 x 40 cm  Paper size 35 x 45 cm

Jennifer Long reflects on her exhibition In Full Flight at Northern Rivers Community Gallery.

Imprint: What is the premise for this exhibition and how have you been working towards it?

JL:

The premise for this exhibition started with thoughts about our common connection to longings for freedom, the uncertainty of this and its loss in times of conflict. It also evoked thoughts about our journeys in life and where these lead us.

My previous two exhibitions ‘Flight’ and ‘Flight Path’ explored this theme but with ‘In Full Flight’ my latest solo exhibition I venture to suggest that the loss of freedom is overcome and through journey, escape or flight, hope becomes the intended outcome. More of the imagery in this exhibition is focussed on the birds in flight and tradionally the bird in flight epitomises freedom.

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

JL: 

The original inspiration for the work came from my father’s stories as a Lancaster pilot, his wartime log as a POW in Stalag Luft 111, and his Jewish family’s escape from the 1906 Russian pogroms. Pared with the current global refugee crisis I saw common links.

This was the start of a body of work, experimenting with different media and the metaphor of flight.

As an artist I am drawn to the disparate. Imagery is both familiar and obscure sourced not only from family history but from global events, landscape and found objects. Often I find the detail in my art descibes a broader landscape or a bigger picture.

Visitors will see images of bird and cage, evoking ‘flight’ and its loss; boat, water, tower and tunnel suggesting journey and escape; feathers, nests, tangled and fragmented forms hinting at calm and turbulence.

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

JL: 

I decided to use a variety of media and different techniques of printmaking, collaging to layer and overlap materials to suggest ideas of transparency and opaqueness, absence and presence. This is particularly obvious in the paper and wax ‘postcards’, rice paper and wax vessels and 3D assemblages in paper, wax and aluminium.

In exploring a range of mark making I have repeated personal symbols to form common links across all the works. In many of the images in the etching series I have interchanged multiple plates or parts of them during printing. In the solvent transfers and watercolours I have reconfigured and repeated images to give a continuity to mark and meaning.

I create my own interior landscapes of layered and symbolic narratives to evoke memory, emotion and imagination in the viewer.

Imprint: What future projects are you working on?

JL: The plan is to begin new work for another solo exhibition next year and produce a large scale version of one of my 3D recent works.

 

 

 

National Works on Paper Awards

Above: James Tylor and Laura Wills, The Forgotten Wars, 2017, coloured pencil on photographic print, 5 sheets, each 50 x 50 cm. right: Solomon Booth, Dhangal Urgnu Tadiak, 2017, lino cut print, 190 x 124 cm. Below: David Bosun, Kubilaw Ulakal, 2017, lino cut print, 240 x 124 cm. Bottom: Godwin Bradbeer, Imago – 1000 Tears, 2018, chinagraph, pastel and acrylic medium, 152 x 128 cm.

Nicolas Rivet finds out about the winning entry in the National Works on Paper prize at Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery.

 

After a lengthy selection process involving more than 1000 applications, the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery’s National Works on Paper was awarded to James Tylor and Laura Wills for their collaborative work The Forgotten Wars—an allusion to the Australian frontier wars between Indigenous Australians and white settlers spanning almost 150 years.

 

Established in 1998, the National Works on Paper award is now recognised as one of the country’s most prestigious awards of its kind, and with its biennial exhibition, it intends to support and promote contemporary Australian artists who work on or with paper.

 

This year’s judges—Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery Director Jane Alexander, TarraWarra Museum of Art Director Victoria Lynn and Ian Potter Museum of Art Curator of Academic Programs (Research) Kyla McFarlane—spent an entire day shortlisting 63 finalists whose works were later displayed in the exhibition. There, the judges eventually returned to select a winner.

 

The gallery’s senior curator Danny Lacy attributes the challenging process to the incredible quality of work submitted across the board.

 

‘The great thing about National Works on Paper is the diversity you see within the works,’ Lacy says. ‘It really does capture an insightful snapshot of current contemporary practice. Paper is the foundation and the many ways in which artists use it never ceases to amaze our audience.’

 

With such a range of techniques having been incorporated into the works, the prize showcases everything from traditional drawings and digital prints to sculptural pieces.

Described by Lacy as a ‘beautiful but conceptually intelligent piece of work’, the winning entry is composed of five panels that overlay Tylor’s black and white photographs of the Australian rural landscape with Wills’ coloured drawings, influenced by various cartographic sources referencing the colonisation of Australia.

 

Lacy says the artists succeeded on several levels. As the two layers interweave, viewers are initially intrigued until, on closer inspection, they are confronted by the complexity of the work.

 

In their statement, Tylor and Wills say: ‘This collaborative project between an Indigenous and a Non-Indigenous Australian artist helps to find a way to decolonise the telling of stories about Australian frontier wars in mainstream society in Australia.’ This, according to Lacy, raises an important discussion about the history of this nation and the rethinking of its representation—an idea that is sure to resonate with viewers.

 

National Works on Paper is on display at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery until 9 September and features the entries of all shortlisted finalists.

mprg.com.au

 

 

From Velvety Depths: Graeme Peebles

Above: Graeme Peebles, Remember, 2010, 90 x 140 cm. Right: Graeme Peebles, Cave of the Green Aurochs, 2013-17, 30 x 50 cm. Below: Graeme Peebles, Drinking Straw Midden, 2017-18, 45 x 60 cm. Bottom: Graeme Peebles, The Swimmers, 2015-17, 60 x 90 cm.

 

 

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Nicolas Rivet explores the depths of Graeme Peebles’ new exhibition.

 

Graeme Peebles had no plans to assemble another solo show in the short term, but when prompted about a potential exhibition for Queenscliff’s recent inaugural winter arts festival Low Light, he wanted to support his local community.

From Velvety Depths is a collection of Peebles’ recent and earlier works, and the title referencesthe nature of mezzotint, whose method involves roughening the metal plate with a rocker to create rich velvety background blacks.

Though the results are highly admired, the entire process is extremely time-consuming and requires an incredibly advanced set of skills to master. Peebles, however, has produced hundreds of mezzotints since he graduated from RMIT more than 40 years ago. Today, he is regarded as Australia’s leading artist in this medium.

‘I was attracted to mezzotint for a number of reasons,’ Peebles says. ‘Primarily [because of the] control I had over the image without having to use acids, along with the ability to do tonal rendering. In this sense, I find it similar to painting in the way that you can create the image.’

Peebles describes the show as ‘a bit of a survey exhibition’ as it embraces archaeological findings of ancient art and tries to establish a connection to current art and environmental themes. He explains how the work stems from the discovery of some 10,000-year-old abalone shells in a cave in South Africa that are believed to have held pigment for cave paintings.

‘It’s also reflective of shell middens which were fairly abundant where I grew up as a child in Tasmania,’ he says. ‘I guess it’s a way of looking at what we leave behind.’

While the exhibition features an array of Peebles’ work, a large part of it incorporates pieces he has produced over the past seven years as well as a few major pieces from the past twenty years. Notably, these include recent landscapes created in Italy’s Umbria, as well as a series of cloudscapes from the Snowy Mountains that were developed over a decade.

With so many works to consider, he finds it hard to name a favourite, but suggests that Remember—essentially a ‘memento mori’ piece of a mass of living fish fleeing from a dead one—is significant in the sense that it is the largest print he has ever worked on.

Though the individual pieces are complete, Peebles acknowledges that the collection is ‘still a work in progress’ and believes it will take another four or more  years before it is recognised as a complete body of work.

From Velvety Depths is at Queenscliff Gallery and Workshop until August 12.

qgw.com.au/event/from-velvety-depths/

 

 

Inside the Cover: The Bookplates of Adrian Feint

Above: Adrian Feint, Bookplate for Ursula Hayward, 1937, woodcut. Collection of the Carrick Hill Trust; donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2017. Below: Max Dupain, Adrian Feint, 1939, gelatin silver photograph. Collection of Carrick Hill Trust; donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2017.

 

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Katarina Klaric explores the bookplates of Adrian Feint.

Adrian Feint (1894-1971) belonged to Sydney’s vanguard of stylish modernity in the 1920s and ’30s, to which he contributed a keen sense of innovative design in both his commercial and personal artistic endeavours. His graphic art capabilities were employed by the prominent cultural figure Sydney Ure Smith, in both his advertising agency, Smith & Julius, as well as in his influential art and lifestyle publications Art in Australia and The Home. Feint also found success in his landscape and flower oil paintings to which he dedicated the latter part of his career. However, it could very well be argued that it was in his ingenious skill at creating bookplates that he achieved mastery above all else. The recent exhibition Carrick Hill exhibition, Inside the Cover: The bookplates of Adrian Feint (7 March-30 June) highlighted his prolific output of bookplates, the adroit inventiveness of their designs, and the patrons for whom they were made.

These bookplates have been recently donated to Carrick Hill by collector Richard King, who has managed to bring together all but five of the 221 that Feint designed. The significance of their place at this institution lies in the relationship the artist had with the original owners, Edward (Bill) and Ursula Hayward, who were great patrons of the arts and knew and supported Feint during his career. The Haywards were established members of Australia’s cultural milieu, regularly providing their hospitality to prominent visitors to Adelaide and arranging exhibitions to promote artists they admired. They were thus linked to a broad network of people, many of whom ended up with a personalised bookplate by Adrian Feint.

Bookplates have a history almost as long as books themselves, and are essentially markers of ownership, thus commonly referred to as ex libris (from the books of…). Their significance traditionally lies in ensuring a claim on the object itself, books customarily holding the status of precious object, as well as acting as miniature representations of their owner, as one’s library was often seen as an extension of oneself. For this reason, bookplates often internalise their function in that they tend to contain personalised motifs that reflect the patron in a personal or symbolic way.

Feint’s bookplate for Ursula Hayward depicts a bust of a woman, presumably representing her, looking outwards through a curtained window onto a vista bearing resemblance to Carrick Hill’s view of Adelaide, where land melds into sea. Books are scattered around, reflecting the patron’s love of literature and the arts, and what appears to be boards of canvas upon which the bust’s reflection casts a shadow – perhaps representing Ursula’s nurturing influence on the work of artists she supported. This wood-engraving used three colours, with two of the original blocks also on show in the exhibition. Most of Feint’s bookplates used only one colour, usually black, dark green, dark blue or brown, though there are a number of examples with two or three used together.

Feint took up etching in the early 1920s, exhibiting with the Australian Painter-Etchers’ Society, and the Society of Artists, Sydney, and later becoming a regularly featured artist in The Australian Ex Libris Society, formed in 1923.[1] His first wood-engravings were made in the late 1920s while studying design with Thea Proctor, with whom, along with Margaret Preston, he worked closely through The Home magazine and interior design projects.[2] Grosvenor Galleries, which Feint co-founded with book-binder Walter Taylor in 1924, operated below Proctor’s studio on George Street, Sydney. The relationship between Feint and these artists is represented in the exhibition not only in the bookplates he made for them, but also in portraits with him as the subject, both Thea Proctor and Margaret Preston respectively having made sketches of him. There is also an oil painting by Nora Heysen made in 1940, where Feint’s dapper demeanor and introspective countenance is successfully captured, and his occupation as an artist-craftsman reflected in the etching and engraving instruments that he holds in his hands.

Besides artists, bookplates were commissioned from a great range of musicians, businessmen, politicians, writers (including Patrick White and Frank Clune), and even members of the British Royal family, including the Duke and Duchess of York and the Prince of Wales. This illustrious patronage indicates how highly esteemed Feint’s work as a bookplate artist was, and that his acclaim was internationally renowned. Even in America he won recognition when he was awarded first prize in a competition held by the Bookplate International Association in 1930, and later that year held a solo exhibition at the Library of Congress, Washington D.C., organised by the American Society of Bookplate Collectors and Designers.[3]

Feint’s talent in this field is evinced by his ability to produce so many unique miniature works for such a great variety of patrons, reflecting their own sense of character or position within the framework of his own artistic sensibility. There are some common themes that feature in numerous bookplates, namely maritime scenes and floral arrangements. His Elizabeth Bay apartment had an enviable view of Sydney Harbour which explains ships and boats as a favoured subject, yet it is remarkable how he was able to render the reoccurring element of water in a different style for every print – he was rarely formulaic. Flowers were always a specialty for Feint and he largely resigned from commercial and graphic work altogether in 1938 so that he could concentrate on oil painting and develop the floral still-lifes with which he is now closely associated. Adrian Feint was a man of many talents but his contribution to the art of the bookplate in Australia and abroad is especially worthy of mention, which this exhibition commendably brought to attention.

[1] Richard King, ‘Adrian Feint’s Bookplates’, Adrian Feint: Cornucopia. Ed. Richard Heathcote, Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 2009, p. 32.

[2] Roger Butler, ‘Biography’, Adrian Feint: Cornucopia. Ed. Richard Heathcote, Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 2009, p. 12.

[3] Richard King, ‘Adrian Feint’s Bookplates’, Adrian Feint: Cornucopia. Ed. Richard Heathcote, Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 2009, p. 33.

Bridget Hillebrand: Rockfall

Above: Bridget Hillebrand, Eclipse 19, 2018, linocut frottage and solvent transfer, 33 x 21 cm. Right: Bridget Hillebrand, Revisited I, 2018, linocut on silk and canvas, 24 x 21.5 cm. Below: Bridget Hillebrand, Revisited IV, 2018, linocut and stitching, 24 x 21.5 cm.

Bridget Hillebrand discusses her new exhibition Rockfall, at the Art Vault in Mildura.

What were some of the foundation ideas for Rockfall and how did you work with them?

BH: Through an investigation of site and social histories my art practice explores the relationship we have with specific cultural landscapes. As a rock climber I am particularly interested in how the action of climbers are incorporated into written representations of place. The maps and language climbers use to describe climbs presents us with a glimpse of the landscape through their eyes and a different mode of perception. It is this intimate language and mapping of place that my works draw on.

What are some of the works in the exhibition and how did they evolve?

BH: The series of unique state prints consist of linocuts on transparent and opaque sheets which are machine sewn and hand stitched to form layers of images and text. The texts were sourced from my conversations with climbers, their journals and climbing guides. I am interested in these texts as they reflect a language and terminology unique to climbing. They also reveal climbing events recalled by climbers who have inscribed the landscape with their own personal stories. Descriptions of climbing routes (also known as climbing lines) provide a mapping process through which climbers navigate their path on the rock. It is through establishing climbing routes on the rock and repeatedly using them, that climbers establish proprietary right over territory and place. Each time a new climbing guide is published, selected climbs are removed from view, become unseen and mask events of previous human engagement. The layered printed silk and transparent papers act as a veil, hiding and revealing descriptions of climbs and hand written notes, mirroring how descriptions of climbs are altered and rewritten over time.

What is your attraction to printmaking and how did it initially manifest?

BH: I am inspired by the endless capacity of the printed image to be changed and reworked. The tactile nature of carving a block and its ability to be printed, reprinted and overprinted in a variety of ways stimulates my imagination and encourages me to experiment with new ideas. Within the framework of a certain consistency each print has a subtle life, an individuality of its own.  It is also the interaction of ink and its support and how different supports react, behave and translate to other formats such as art objects and installations that inspire diversity of scale. My intimate prints on a sheet of paper now often gives way to large scale sculptural works and installations.

What are some of the possible ways viewers might experience this exhibition as a whole?

BH: Rockfall explores how climbers continue to share a common understanding of a particular reading of the landscape. The series of small unique state prints encourage the viewer to be drawn in and look closely at the subtle nuances of printed and stitched line.  There are slight transitions of muted tones printed on cut and torn silk, canvas, cloth and paper. The clarity and legibility of the text is sometimes undermined by the use of printed overlays. As the viewer moves, the transparent layers cause the text to shift in and out of focus. Reminding the viewer that just as a particular reading of the landscape is in a constant state of flux, our perceptions and memories will also fade over time.

What: Rockfall, new prints and works on paper by Bridget Hillebrand. Bridget will also be conducting a Chiaroscuro Linocut Print Workshop at the Art Vault on Saturday 7 July 10am – 5pm

Where: The Art Vault, 43 Deakin Avenue, Mildura

When: 4-23 July. Opens Wednesday 4 July 6pm

 

Libris Awards: Australian Artists’ Book Prize, 2018 – Artspace Mackay

Above: Clyde McGill, Witness, 2016, etching, letterpress, gold leaf, ink and graphite on BFK 270gsm, edition 3/6, 39 x 46 x 3 cm. Right: Michelle Vine, Contested Biography I (quadrat), 2017, cyanotype on altered book, stitched, 138 x 216 cm. Below: Judges Helen Cole and Roger Butler. Bottom: Jamian Stayt, Tagged, 2018, photography, vintage library card, cardboard and cloth on paper, 111 x 68 cm. Far bottom: Jenna Lee,  A plant in the wrong place, 2016, copper plate etching, image transfer, 16.5 x 13 cm. Photography: Jim Cullen.

Doug Spowart reports on the 2018 Libris Awards: Australian Artists’ Book Prize, held at Artspace Mackay.

In the judge’s opening remarks of the 2018 Libris Awards, judge Roger Butler[i] described the judging process that he and fellow judge Helen Cole[ii] encountered as ‘demanding and challenging’. The preceding month the two judges individually reviewed the 143 entrant’s statements and the accompanying images of the books. After consultation this yielded the selection of 74 finalists that were then judged in the physical exhibition space of Artspace Mackay.

Now in its sixth iteration, the Libris Awards: Australian Artists’ Book Prize gathers biennially the largest selection of contemporary artist books in Australia. The judges concurred that they found their encounter with the physical books at Artspace as: ‘Immensely enjoyable for both of us … it’s just wonderful to come here and see so many wonderful things that we did not know about, and artists we didn’t know about as well…’

Clyde McGill won the $7000 Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal National Artists’ Book Award. ‘Winning this award is an extraordinary thing,’ he said on winning. ‘Working as an artist is extraordinary fun, how lucky am I?’ McGill was the winner of the first Libris Award in 2006. McGill’s work, which includes a performance video, documented his response to the destruction of ancient Aboriginal petroglyphs at Murujuga on the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia.

The Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal National Altered Book Award of $3000 went to Michelle Vine’s Contested biography 1 (quadrat).

The work consists of a contested German biography that had been disbound and re-assembled as a flat patchwork of sewn pages over-printed in cyanotype with images of birds and flora.

The $2500 Mackay Regional Council Regional Artists’ Book Award went to Jamian Stayt for his book Tagged. Jamian’s book deals with the question of how today with digital technology, everything, including people, is classified and invites the reader to redefine themselves.

The Artspace Mackay Foundation Tertiary Artists’ Book Award of $2000 was won by Jenna Lee for her work A plant in the wrong place, a boxed set of etchings that comment on and compare the way both botanists and typographers rely on the concepts of ‘type’ specimens.

The Libris Awards will be on show until August 19 and will inspire and inform local artists of the diversity of the artist book discipline. And there can be no doubt that this award will attract visitors to Mackay to see the assembled books. A comprehensive illustrated catalogue and other Libris Awards information can be accessed here:

http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/whats_on/libris_awards

 

[i] Roger Butler AM is Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at the National Gallery of Australia. An expert in his field, Butler has written widely, curated and lectured on Australian prints and their place in the Asia/ Pacific region. In 2011 Butler was appointed a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for services to the visual arts.

[ii] Helen Cole, former Coordinator of the Australian Library of Art, was the second guest judge for the 2018 Libris Awards. With a career spanning over 30 years, Cole is an expert in the field of rare and artists’ books.