Robert Fielding: Milkali Kutju, One Blood

Robert Fielding discusses his winning work in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards ‘Works on Paper’ category.

 

Q: What are some of the background ideas that helped you develop your winning work, especially in the context of political posters?

RF: I observed the recent US and Australian elections and really noticed a lot of negative politics. These negative politics come from fear and hate, and cause prejudice and division. My work is political, but it has an overwhelmingly positive message – Milkali Kutju – meaning ‘One Blood’ in Pitjantjatjara language – is a call for unity, for an end to racial prejudice.

Q: What is the general appeal for you of the political poster tradition?

RF: The political poster uses language and imagery to portray its message. I’m mainly interested in how I can use text and images to promote a positive message. My politics are forgiveness, joy, love and understanding – not hate and fear. I use Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara language in my work to demonstrate the pride, strength and resilience of our culture.

Q: How did you approach this work from a technical point of view? What were the challenges?

RF: The work includes hundreds of piercings, burnt through the paper using a soldering iron. One challenge was the burns and blisters I got on my hand from this tool! But for me this burning/piercing technique was a very important element of the work. The text “Milkali Kutju” is asking people to look beneath the surface and see that our differences are only skin deep. We all have blood running through our veins. I’ve pierced the paper so that viewers are literally looking beneath the surface of my artwork. With this burning/piercing technique I am paying tribute to a great artist and matriarch of Mimili who was famous for burning intricate designs onto wooden artefacts with a hot wire. This woman, who’s sadly no longer with us, was a senior cultural elder who showed me the beauty of the country, the culture, the story, song and dance when I first came to Mimili around twenty years ago.

Q: What are some of the broader benefits of winning this award, in terms of the effects the NATSIAAs more generally?

RF: This is the second time I’ve won the Works on Paper category at the NATSIAAs, I also won in 2015. It’s a huge honour to have your work recognised at this level, and I’ve been privileged to receive awards alongside many great Indigenous artists and elders from across the country. The exposure I’ve received from winning this award has generated new opportunities and will allow me to develop some of my ideas for big, exciting projects.

Q: What are you working on now?

RF: Right now I’m working on a few different projects, but the one I’m really excited about is a sculptural project where I’m experimenting with sandblasting designs onto rusted car doors that I’ve salvaged from car wrecks on the APY Lands – I’m looking forward to a major exhibition outcome for this work in 2018!

Top: Robert Fielding, Milkali Kutju – One blood, synthetic polymer paint and ink on burnt and pierced paper, 34th Telstra NATSIAA. Image: Mimili Maku Arts.

Pia Larsen: What we know

Above: Michelle Munzone, In Jest, 57 x 76 cm.
Right: Afaf Al-Shammari, The Mystery of the Human Brain, 57 x 76 cm.
Below: Jane Stratton, Pia Larsen, Michelle Munzone, Vicki Wacha, Zahra Mahde and Susan Stewart in the Printmedia Studio, Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney, 2016.

Pia Larsen  reflects on recording knowledge through printmaking in the ‘What we know’ project.

It all began with Jane Stratton, (Creative Director, Think + DO Tank Foundation) and her vision to create a visual record using the medium of print, of people’s knowledge and know-how in Western Sydney. Classes were to be held in the Liverpool area with me as teacher and artist in residence assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

Jane’s inspiration came from Denis Diderot’s 1766 Encyclopaedia: A Description of the Arts and Trades. Diderot’s Encyclopaedia created a beautiful account of the contemporary handicrafts of the day, using engraving to showcase the skills of artisans and manufacturers throughout the regions of France.

The printmaking workshops started in September 2016 at the Liverpool Women’s Resource Centre and ran over four weeks with 9 students, Jane and myself. Each week involved transporting and setting up a print studio. This included a small press, tools, inks, paper, water bath and other materials. I began by introducing printmedia through stencilling, demonstrating the process with cut and torn paper to explore negative and positive space, layered imagery and offset print techniques. They also explored drypoint on acetate plates as well as collagraphs on cardboard. As people gained confidence a queue formed at the small press and every class became a flurry of activity and creative endeavour.

During the course I talked about work by artists including, Henri Matisse, Kiki Smith, Ruth Burgess and Louise Bourgeois, discussing how the particular properties of print served their intentions as artists. Toward the months end the students began to formulate their ideas and imagery for a large-scale work (57 x 76cm), using either drypoint and/or stencilling and/or collagraphy. They created a template for the different layers and elements within their image and planned the printing sequence for the processes of intaglio/relief and/or stencil impressions. The final printing to be undertaken later in the year at Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney.

When the group gathered in December at SCA it was evident that they appreciated the opportunity to utilise the print studio and spend time in the environment and atmosphere of the Rozelle campus. They worked solidly over the following days to produce a set of three prints, with support from Janet Parker-Smith, Printmedia Technical Officer and myself. For most students the first layer of their image was a bleed print in colour. Vicki Wacha mixed and printed a mustard-yellow base for her figurative and patterned drypoint images in black. Zahra Mahde had prepared a stencil of the word ‘mum’ in Arabic calligraphy that printed as white lettering within a bleed print of transparent aqua. Her final layer consisted of offset impressions from leaves floating over the Arabic script. Susan Stewart had prepared a stencil of a large oak tree in white against an autumnal yellow background, overlayed with leaf and acorn shapes in green and brown. Macki Riveros printed her dancing figures as intaglio and offset impressions in red, blue and yellow creating multi layers of overlapping figures until they merged in a blur of coloured movement. Michelle Munzone had created detailed drypoints of theatrical characters that she printed over a rainbow roll bleed print of blue and purple.

Their experience at SCA including, mixing inks, intaglio printing, managing the large format presses and rollers and other studio equipment consolidated and built on their creative and technical know-how. And it was particularly gratifying to observe how people become enraptured with the medium and its potential, hungry to learn all the methods and processes so they could take control and create work on their own. They were also inspired to continue their art training despite limited access to art studios and training facilities in Western Sydney. I enjoyed the interactions and many discussions about people’s ideas, their lives and backgrounds and the way those stories and histories emerged in the final works through subject matter, symbols and pictorial composition. The work I created as artist in residence rendered the creative energy of Western Sydney as a field of vivid colours overlaid with the geography of people, place and space in the Liverpool area. The forthcoming exhibition of work from the What We Know project at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre represents “Chapter 1”. Our vision to involve more people over time and expand the project as a creative voice for the community.

Two hundred and fifty years ago in France engraving served to beautifully showcase the contemporary handicrafts of the time. In Western Sydney today print beautifully showcases fascinating stories interwoven with forms of knowledge and know-how from everyday life, stories that emanate from the most diverse part of greater Sydney with its many cultures, perspectives and histories.

Pia Larsen is artist-in-residence and teacher at Think + DO Tank Foundation.

The Motion Room is at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, 30 September–19 November. Exhibition launch: Saturday 7 October, 1-5pm.

Jacqueline Aust: PCA Print Commission 2017

Above: Jacqueline Aust, Lie of the Land – Mildura, 2017, drypoint, photogravure and chine colle, 67 x 45 cm (image) 76 x 56 cm (paper).

Jacqueline Aust discusses her work selected in the 2017 PCA Print Commission.

Q: What is your relationship to printmaking and how did you develop this interest?

JA: I was introduced to printmaking by Barry Cleavin as part of the graphic design programme at Christchurch Polytechnic in the 1970s. Much later I discovered the print studios at the polytechnic in Wanganui and was encouraged by Marty Vreede to develop my skills in the print studios, often during the weekends. I became interested, as many printmakers are, in the role of the artist as a form-giver who celebrates the concept of individual originality relative to the process of creation through repetition. Much later the print as paradox, valued as unique, yet editioned with machine-like similarity from the same matrix, became a central theme of my masters thesis and the subject, particularly of my installation works. But while the theory of print fascinates me, really it’s the endless variety of what happens between hand, plate, ink and paper that keeps me going!

Q: How did you approach your submission for the PCA Print commission 2017?

JA: The first time I was selected, in 2014, I found the process of printing an edition of 40 challenging, as at that point my editions were rarely bigger than ten and usually more like five. Increasingly I have been developing series of unique state works using the same plates in different combinations. The challenge in my approach to the commission this time has been to find a way to develop a work that is fundamentally driven by the visual structure and concepts of the series I am working on, yet make it editionable.

Q: What are some of the foundation ideas that have guided the creation of the visual content of the work you submitted?

JA: Lie of the land – Mildura is part of a series of works about the process of navigating environments that are foreign to me. It represents a map of my recollection of physical experience and visual perspective while participating in a residency in Mildura. Compared to the intense, wet, green/blue/black colours of New Zealand, the country around Mildura is predominantly dry, ochre or burnt sienna in hue. The Murray River features as a dividing line between states, and as the source of water for huge areas of land ploughed for agriculture. The issue of water use seemed to sit like an elephant in the room, or like sharply defined shapes hovering above the surface of the land. I was often overwhelmed by the scale of the environment and found the simple action of drawing a circle around me in the dirt provided a sense of containment from which to absorb my surroundings. Later these circles became a strong structural link to the same shapes in my ‘navigating’ series.

Q: How does it relate to your broader body of work?

JA: The ‘navigating’ series developed as the result of artist residencies in Arenys de Munt (Spain), The Art Vault (Mildura), and Rakiura-Stewart Island, (New Zealand), between 2015 and 2016. These residencies provoked a significant shift in my work, both in terms of subject and of scale.  Each of these places provided very different visual and physical experiences to draw on. While each print in this series is unique, it begins with the same print matrix on which expressive marks are laid as if creating a map for navigation.  Layers are added that include reference to the half tone dots used to translate images to mass produced print. Each layer serves to obscure and reveal, leaving a history and residue. This layering process imitates my recollection of physical experience and visual perspective, tracing a path from past to present to future.

Q: What were some of the technical challenges involved?

JA: Three plates are used in Lie of the land – Mildura, two photopolymer plates and a dry point in aluminium. The circle components of the dry point plate are printed on cut out circles of abaca paper placed on the plate at the time of printing, and later rearranged along with the previously printed photopolymer images. Ensuring the plates are wiped consistently and placing each of the circle components exactly for consistent effect has been the most technically challenging aspect.

Q: What other projects are you working on?

JA: Research for my ‘navigation’ series through residencies and collaborations is occupying most of my attention including, for example, working at the Umbrella studios in Townsville later this year and participating in the International Print Biennial of Douro in Portugal next year. On the home front I’m participating in a project generated by the Print Council of New Zealand that is loosely titled ‘boundless’, in which printmakers are encouraged to explore the boundaries of print. The most recent version of this project is an exhibition that is touring regional galleries in New Zealand, and will culminate in a print conference in association with the final exhibition at the Waikato Museum in Hamilton next year.

Prints can be ordered at www.printcouncil.org.au

 

 

Andrew Totman: ‘Metamorphosis: Ever-changing… China’

Above: The exhibition space at Desheng Museum.
Right: Andrew Totman, Translucence, 2017, monotype, 50 x 30 cm.
Below:  Andrew Totman, Day dreaming, 2017, gouache, 110 x 77 cm.

Michelle Watts reflects on Andrew Totman’s latest show, held at China’s Desheng Museum.

Andrew Totman – Metamorphosis: Ever-changing… China

Artists run their fingers over the fabric of eternity

(Rose, H. Museum of Modern Love, p56 Allen & Unwin,  Sydney,  2016)

 

Totman’s  professional arts background covers four decades and six continents and  his works are held in major public, private and university collections from the USA, Canada, Australia, Morocco, Germany, Great Britain, France, Korea, Japan, Finland, Norway, Monaco, Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, and China. In this latest exhibition, Totman has chosen to present a mixture of gouache paintings and monoprints on paper,  under the broad title of Metamorphosis: Everchanging… China.

The abstract works presented at Desheng Museum, are alive with glowing colour and animated movement. Driven by a boundless communion with nature, Totman reveals his admiration for and a kinaesthetic response to the certainty of the seasons, the cycles of tides and moon.  The abstract field implies an expansive character that is simultaneously enveloping and breathing, pulsating and muted.

Abstraction, by its very alchemic quality, offers an investigation on the balance and convergence of the elements. Although the landscape may be evoked, there are other determinants present, emotional and profound aspects of the natural world that are created in the diaphanous, weightless forms and luminosity achieved with repeated layers of transparent colour.   These works metaphorically link art (form and surface) with the human spirit and change, a mutability of the natural world and the place of humanity in it.

Totman’s established work reveals many indications of his past preoccupation with the strength of the hand, its universality, its contradictory character. In this current series, the authority of the hand is implicitly evident in a deft and essential touch.  Although on occasion languorous and tender, at other times vigorous and whimsical, the sensuality of the surface resonates with the muted power and strong form of the gesture.

These abstract compositions seem to emanate from the grace and calm of an inner peace, that, although expressing something of the dynamic, contrary forces of nature, remain convinced that an equilibrium will be achieved. Totman is not a romantic in the sense of the terror experienced in the presence of the sublime. Rather, his works display a mature knowledge and recognition of the constancy of change; extremes are balanced with harmony, darkness lifted with light, intuition tempered by intellect. Here is an artist whose belief in the elemental force of nature of the world, those universally recognised symbols of air, earth, wind and fire slipping within and around us, ground even the most resilient human hubris.

Totman’s interest in metamorphosis extends also into the qualities of a culture. Through personal experience, his growing knowledge of China and its contradictions, has led to his conceptual notions and reflections on change, contrast and dissonance. References to the iconography of the elements of fire, air, water and earth, go straight to the heart of the traditional cultural east. Totman has investigated the elements as codes, their very ambiguity offering a philosophical bridge, a  communion between art and audience, harmony and resolution,  East and West. His works strike a balance between the changeability and contested character of China, posing a quieter, more humane questioning, an admiration for our vulnerabilities and strengths.

Gwenn Tasker: PCA Print Commission 2017

Above: Gwenn Tasker, Material Echo, 2017, etching, 30 x 40 cm (image) 56 x 76 cm (paper)

Gwenn Tasker discusses her work selected in the 2017 PCA Print Commission.

Q: What is your relationship to printmaking and how did you develop this interest?

GT: As long as I can remember I have been attracted to the aesthetics of prints. As a young teenager I used to go into the city in Brisbane and browse the printroom at the Verlie Just Gallery. Looking back, I can appreciate the kindness of Verlie in allowing a scruffy schoolgirl to spend hours in her gallery, and also in encouraging my interest. I followed a different career path after leaving school, and later lived in rural Queensland and Brazil, but always took advantage of opportunities to make prints where I could. In 2003, when we returned from Brazil, I began a degree in Fine Art at the Qld College of art, intending to major in lithograpy. However, I fell in love with etching and have remained entranced with both the processes and the possibilities ever since.

Q: How did you approach your submission for the PCA Print Commission 2017?

GT: This was a great honour, and I approached it with the desire to create an image which would reflect both my conceptual and aesthetic concerns. This image was inspired by a decaying railroad bridge that we saw recently in Tenterfield. The process of decay  made the ‘treeness’ of the original building materials more evident, which I thought was interesting as a reminder that all things emerge from nature and will return to nature.

Q: What are some of the foundation ideas that have guided the creation of the visual content of the work you submitted?

GT: I want my images to operate in a similar way to poetry. By placing various elements together I hope to evoke a feeling or sense of meaning. I am interested in exploring and reflecting the ways in which humans view the non-human world as this has real implications for how individuals and cultures treat the environment. I felt this bridge, a human construction being returned to nature, represented one aspect of this very complicated interaction between human activity and the non-human world.

Q: How does it relate to your broader body of work?

GT: This work connects to some previous bodies of work which looked at the consumerisation of nature, but in a tangential way. More recently I have started looking at the human desire for a better life, while engaging in behaviours which are harmful to the same world. I have been looking at Utopian literature and theory within which to framework these ideas. I find the Elizabethan period particularly interesting due to the parallels with our own times–discovery of new worlds, exploring,  discovery of new materials, new technologies. It is interesting that the Elizabethan period produced much Utopian literature, but in recent times there has been a growth in the exploration of dystopias across all the arts. I believe that action is difficult when one gives in to despair but collective human action to avert disaster is still possible.

Q: What were some of the technical challenges involved?

GT: I am currently exploring the use of semi-permeable grounds, and using everyday materials to produce images, in an effort to find materials which are both less toxic and more affordable, both significant concerns for my students. It is a lot of fun. The downside is that I am less familiar with these at the moment, and the grounds are less stable, so there was a bit of wrestling with the plate involved in drawing out the image.

Q: What other projects are you working on?

GT: I am currently preparing work for an exhibition in October with the Nightladder Collective. I have been a member of the collective since it formed in 2009.  The other members are Angela Gardner, Lisa Pullen, John Doyle and Maren Gotzman. The collective work differs to my normal practice, in that we value playfulness, incorporating chance and freedom from the constraints of developing a conceptual framework. It is a space within which I can explore media and mark-making, and there is often a flow-on effect to my other practice. I am also continuing to work on the images arising from my consideration of Utopias and Dystopias, in a body of work that I think of as Journeys of Longing and Despair.

Prints can be ordered at www.printcouncil.org.au

 

 

Joel Wolter: PCA Print Commission 2017

Above: Joel Wolter, Celestial Lane, 2017, edition 30, 22.4 x 30 cm (image) 44 x 48 cm (paper).

Joel Wolter discusses his work selected in the 2017 PCA Print Commission.

Q: What is your relationship to printmaking and how did you develop this interest?

JW: I have been printmaking for approximately 20 years and have worked as a printmaking technician, printer and teacher throughout that time. My interest and involvement in printmaking comes from a place of drawing and mark-making as I have always enjoyed drawing. I really see printmaking and particularly etching and drypoint as another opportunity to draw. The processes, techniques, technologies and history of printmaking also draws me to it and I really enjoy knowing that I’m basically using the same techniques and process that have existed for centuries.

Q: How did you approach your submission for the PCA Print Commission 2017?

JW: Primarily I wanted to keep the continuity going with my prints and continue exploring what I have been doing. So I guess I just applied for the PCA Print Commission and made something that I would have anyway and it’s just a bonus that the selection panel liked it enough to commission it this year. I created a couple of drawings from my own photographs in my sketchbook where I could work out the composition and settle on a view and the scale and then started working on the copper plate. I usually try to work from life as much as possible but it just seems too tricky to do in these places at times and from viewpoints such as the one in this etching.

Q: What are some of the foundation ideas that have guided the creation of the visual content of the work you submitted?

JW: To me this etching continues to explore a range of ideas that I have been interested in for a long time, but it depicts the urban subject matter of Melbourne laneways that I have only been drawing for about eight years or so. I find these gritty back-spaces fascinating and they lend themselves well to the etching and drypoint mediums on a range of levels. I see relationships between the marks, gestures and recordings that are found in these spaces and the drawing marks that are created on the etching plate. These spaces and subject matter are a good platform to explore broader ideas such as opposing forces, transience, equality and existential concepts both through the compositional elements and the textual components.

Q: How does it relate to your broader body of work?

JW: This work is one of several etchings that I have created over the last decade that depicts Melbourne laneways and buildings and it continues to explore similar concepts in the etching as well. Technically through the use of intaglio methods and aesthetically through the use of simple black ink, a bit of plate tone and the size of the etching, relationships are there as well.

Q: What were some of the technical challenges involved?

JW: There’s always the challenge of making the perspective work and look believable in these laneway prints as well challenges with the text and the reversing of things in the drawing stage. The printing is also challenging because it is quite a large edition size with a relatively tight timeline to complete and I also like to use plate tone and there is a bit of tricky wiping and highlighting in the print.

Q: What other projects are you working on?

JW: I have a few projects on the go at the moment. I am working on a few new large prints that will be launched down at the Queenscliff Gallery & Workshop in December and then hopefully in Melbourne, a Rona Green folio swap and exhibition, I am doing some custom edition printing for an artist and of course completing the edition of prints for the PCA Commission, so there’s plenty of printing to be done.

Prints can be ordered at www.printcouncil.org.au

 

 

Deborah Klein: PCA Print Commission 2017

Above: Deborah Klein, Pressed for Time, 2017, archival pigment print, 31.3 x 23.2 cm (image) 48.4 x 35 cm (paper)

Deborah Klein discusses her work selected in the 2017 PCA Print Commission.

Q: What is your relationship to printmaking and how did you develop this interest?

DK: Through the years my relationship to printmaking has shifted and changed. In the immediate post-art school period and for a long time afterwards, relief printmaking was my primary means of creative expression. For the last fifteen years or so, however, my work has come to be fairly evenly divided between printmaking, painting, drawing and, more recently, zines and artist books.

When I enrolled in art school in 1983, it was as a painting major. But almost from the start, I found myself drawn to printmaking and soon switched majors. There has always been a narrative element to my work that I sensed would be better suited to a more graphic medium. I was particularly attracted to the direct nature of single-block linocuts. For many years I’d admired the woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein and the German Expressionists. An investigation of the prints of Australian modernist artist Margaret Preston and her contemporaries also fuelled my growing interest in the medium.

Q: How did you approach your submission for the PCA Print Commission 2017?

DK: For the past two years I’ve been developing a body of work, collectively titled Leaves of Absence. It’s my first foray into archival pigment prints. I’m entirely self-taught, with no previous experience with or technical knowledge of the medium.

The first works in the series were made for what was supposedly a one-off project, but I found myself increasingly attracted to this completely new way of working, even as I was still feeling my way with it. In time, my confidence with and commitment to the medium grew and it has developed into a significant extension of my printmaking practice.

My three previous works selected for the PCA print commission (the first dating from 1986, the year after I graduated from art school) have each represented key developmental stages in my imagery. So the time felt right to submit a work that reflected its newest direction.

Q: What are some of the foundation ideas that have guided the creation of the visual content of the work you submitted?

DK: For the past six years I’ve been dividing my time between Melbourne and the Victorian Goldfields city of Ballarat, primarily in the latter, where I have a house and studio. During that time, I’ve become increasingly interested in the history of the area and its surroundings.

Pressed for Time is part of a body of work focusing on the absence of Chinese women from the goldfields during the Australian gold rush. The eucalyptus leaf in this work and all those in the series were gathered in the tiny Victorian Goldfields town of Newstead. The forest floor is still dotted with holes, the last traces of the 3000 Chinese miners who once lived and worked there. The miners’ plight on the Goldfields is well documented, but almost nothing is known about the women who remained in China. The silhouettes hand-painted onto each leaf represent one of those unknown women.

Q: How does it relate to your broader body of work?

DK: Lost and hidden histories are dominant themes in my work. Doomed to anonymity, my characters are sometimes masked, or stand with their backs turned to the viewer. More recently, as in Pressed for Time, they appear in the guises of Shadow Women. Silhouetted figures first appeared in my work in 2013, most notably in Tall Tales, a series of one-of-a-kind vertical concertina artist books.

Q: What were some of the technical challenges involved?

DK: At first everything about this body of work was challenging, as was completely uncharted territory. From the day I gathered the first eucalyptus leaves in Newstead, I worked intuitively. I had no set guidelines or instructions to work from and had no idea if the images would actually work as prints.

In the past, I printed most of my linocuts myself. On occasion I’ve worked with some wonderful master printers, but in every case the image was already pretty well resolved.

The digital prints were an entirely different matter. For a number of practical reasons, including necessary access to specialist equipment, I had no choice but to work with a printer, and in much closer proximity than I had in the past. I was already way out of my comfort zone and found the prospect incredibly daunting. I knew it was vital to find a printer who understood the ideas, aesthetic, and visual language of the work and wouldn’t be judgemental about my lack of experience in this area. Through a fortuitous recommendation from a fellow printmaker, I found just that in Luke Ingram and his colleague, Daisy Watkins-Harvey, at Visual Heritage in Abbotsford. I trust their judgment and have learned a great deal from them. They encouraged my fledgling efforts from the start and on a number of occasions have helped me to further refine the imagery during the crucial proofing stage.

Q: What other projects are you working on? 

DK: At present I’m working towards a solo show at Tacit Contemporary Art in Melbourne. Fallen Women, my first exhibition of archival pigment prints, will run from 29 November-17 December 2017.

Website: http://www.deborahklein.net/

Art blog: http://deborahklein.blogspot.com/

Book blog: http://mothwomanpress.blogspot.com/

Prints can be ordered at www.printcouncil.org.au

 

 

David Fairbairn: PCA Print Commission 2017

Above: David Fairbairn, AutoPortrait No. 20, 2017, etching and drypoint, 33 x 28 cm (image) 76 x 56 cm (paper)

David Fairbairn discusses his work selected in the 2017 PCA Print Commission.

Q: What is your relationship to printmaking and how did you develop this interest?

DF:  I studied for a BA Hons in Painting and Printmaking at the West Surrey College of Art in the UK during the 1970s, followed by further study at the Royal Academy Schools in London. It was at that time that I developed a lifelong interest in printmaking although back then it was all about the silkscreen print.

However it wasn’t until I emigrated to Sydney in 1981 that I returned to printmaking, but this time I explored the more immediate graphic potential of relief prints, particularly lino and woodcuts. I also collaborated extensively with Suzanne Archer, the  painter and later my wife, on a series of figurative relief prints cut in situ around Sydney both plein air and domestic interiors. This culminated in a touring survey show of our prints in 2000 entitled Hand over Hand 1982-2000 hosted by Campbelltown Arts Centre.

What survives of my early work in the UK demonstrates an early struggle with formal hard-edged abstraction inspired in part by the British artist Michael Moon and the Americans Ellsworth Kelly and Frank Stella. The impact of making figuratively inspired prints on my arrival in Australia prompted a major shift in my own practice towards a more figurative mode of expression particularly with portraiture.

The impact of many post-war British and European artists that I had looked at during my time in the UK including Leon Kossoff, Frank Auerbach and Alberto Giacometti (with their intense and gestural mark-making) were significant influences on my subsequent work.

By 1995 I was a fully committed figurative painter who also made a lot of drawings, so by that time I made the decision to concentrate more fully on my drawing practice. Initially these drawings were fairly straightforward charcoal and pastel works that over time involved more mixed media including a return to paint.

By 1999 I started to explore the etching process as this clearly complimented and enhanced my drawing practice with its reliance and emphasis on a predominately linear approach to constructing the image. By 2008 I was able to set up a printmaking workshop in the studio with my own press that has allowed me to work independently and in tandem with my drawing practice. This has resulted in more ambitious large-scale copper etchings.

Q: How did you approach your submission for the PCA Print Commission 2017?

DF: I made my first self-portrait copper etching in 2003. This has continued on to this day with Auto-Portrait No 20 the most recent work in that ongoing series which was successfully submitted for this year’s Print Commission 2017. I was also included in the 2012 Print Commission with another self-portrait.

As I work directly onto the copper plates from my sitters, sometimes it is more convenient to use myself as the model in the absence of my regular subjects.

Q: What are some of the foundation ideas that have guided the creation of the visual content of the work you submitted?                                                                                                                                  

 

 DF:   Most of my sitters are generally people I know well, with a preference for older faces and sometimes the infirm. I am committed to the exploration of the human physiognomy, a study of mood and character.

The artist/sitter relationship is paramount. The length of time spent with the subject, the day-to-day stopping and starting of a work as the series develops over time, even the subtle daily differences that exist in both subject and artist are factors that contribute to the interpretation of the work.

Ideas embodied in the work include contours, mapping and landscape. Think of the head as something you walk across.

Q: How does it relate to your broader body of work?

DF: As my major large-scale portraits rely essentially on a linear construction this reinforces the underlying abstraction in the mark-making. This is also something that I continue to explore in the etchings. An analogy would be to consider a building without cladding, an open-ended skeletal structure. In this way my portraits have had the skin stripped back so you can metaphorically enter into the head.

Q: What were some of the technical challenges involved?

DF:  With printmaking there is the delayed reaction between making the drawing on the copper plate and the final outcome. The mirror image is also a challenge. However, with the etching process I am interested in the unexpected transformative qualities of the etched copper line that is a result of the plate being immersed in the ferric chloride. The quality of the corrosive line is quite different to a drawn line on paper using charcoal or pastel. As I am seeking a more experimental and personal approach rather than being constrained by traditional methods, the challenge is how best to harness all these unpredictable factors inherent in my process. I also adopt some of my drawing processes of erasure and rebuilding in the plates, using sanding discs and power tools on occasion, which provides its own particular problems to overcome.

Q: What other projects are you working on?

DF: My current ongoing project is entitled Drawn to Print a travelling exhibition of my large-scale drawings, 210 x 183cms (2010-17) and recently completed large-scale copper etchings 120 x 106 cm (2015-17). The intention behind this body of work entailed revisiting some of my previous subjects, which had already been explored in a series of large-scale mixed media drawings and make a new series of large-scale copper etchings based on these sitters. In this way the differences inherent in both mediums could be observed. These were first shown in April 2017 at Tweed Regional Gallery.

Prints can be ordered at www.printcouncil.org.au

Drawn to Print is showing at Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery 20 October-3 December, Orange Regional Gallery 17 February-1 April 2018, Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery 13 July-8 September 2018.

Prints can be ordered at www.printcouncil.org.au

 

 

Locust Jones: PCA Print Commission 2017

Above: Locust Jones, Warren Ellis One, 2017, lithograph, 76 x 56 cm (image), 76 x 56 (paper).

Locust Jones discusses his work selected in the 2017 PCA Print Commission.

Q: What is your relationship to printmaking and how did you develop this interest?

LJ: Paper, drawing, immediacy, accidental mark-making, line, graphic, primal expressive… I first learnt printmaking in New Zealand and then when I attended the Sydney College of the Arts where I majored in printmaking. I was interested in the process of etching and learnt lithography with Fred Genis. My drawing has dominated my art practice but I have also had intensive periods working with woodcuts as well as etching and lithography.  I worked with linocuts in Johannesburg for the first time a few years ago but I think for me at the moment it is lithography where I can really feel my work developing.

Q: How did you approach your submission for the PCA Print Commission 2017?

LJ:  I always wanted to draw Warren Ellis and was speaking to a friend about it. Unbeknownst to me he knew Warren and emailed him on my behalf and when Warren was in Sydney he emailed me saying where the bloody hell are you…  apparently I was supposed to hook up with him but I was away, so we arranged to meet up in Melbourne the following month when he was performing with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. We met up at Lancaster Press (I had been working with Peter Lancaster since 2013). So Warren came out and played the violin for me while I worked on a series of plates. The print commission print, Warren Ellis One, was what came out of this collaboration. I only met Warren the night before, backstage after the performance.

Q: What are some of the foundation ideas that have guided the creation of the visual content of the work you submitted?

LJ: Immediacy, graphic line, painting and the lithographic technique I developed working with Peter, imagery, photographs that translate directly on to the plate. When I am making a print from an image I draw it upside down so I get a distorted shaky look. I don’t want it to look realistic so I employ techniques I use in my drawing process. I draw upside down and write my text back-to-front.

Q: How does it relate to your broader body of work?

LJ: I draw a lot of faces mostly from reproductions in newspapers and journals but also self-portraits and family members. Warren Ellis One was made from life while he was performing so it has immediacy to it. This immediacy and fast-paced application is typical of my practice.

Q: What were some of the technical challenges involved?

LJ: Peter Lancaster processed the prints and says my plates can be a challenge to process due to how I put down various concoctions. He says: ‘On the upside the results revealed and can give some velvety blacks in amongst well-positioned highlights… as with Motherwell’s lithos the challenge for the printer is to keep those blacks BLACK and not loose subtleties. A pleasure to peel back the cotton rag off your plates!’

Q: What other projects are you working on?

LJ: Currently working on two double-sided ten-metre vertical drawings for an installation work in the Sydney Contemporary art fair in September. I’m also working towards my forthcoming exhibition at Dominik Mersh Gallery, Sydney, in November. In the future I’m planning a trip to Fiji to work with Peter Lancaster in his new lithograph studio he is currently setting up called Coconut Editions. I’m also heading to the Middle East on a research trip to inform new work I am planning to make.

Prints can be ordered at www.printcouncil.org.au

 

 

Roslyn Kean: PCA Print Commission 2017

Above: Roslyn Kean, Night Fall 1, 2017, multiple block woodblock print (12 blocks handprinted with a baren), 29.5 x 46 cm (image 50 x 65 cm (paper)

Roslyn Kean discusses her work selected in the 2017 PCA Print Commission.

Q: What is your relationship to printmaking and how did you develop this interest?

RK:  Following undergraduate studies in Sydney at both the National Art School and the Shillito Design School I was accepted into postgraduate printmaking at The Slade School of Fine Art, London, in 1976.  At this time higher levels of studies in printmaking were not available in Australia and I was possibly one of the first to be awarded an MA in printmaking

Following 10 years in London actively engaged as a lecturer and printmaker at the Slade School I applied to do graduate research in Japan and was successful in being admitted into the Tokyo National University of Fine art as a research scholar to study traditional Japanese woodblock methods. My interest in printmaking has continued for over 40 years with a commitment to sharing the techniques of traditional Japanese printing methods and expanding the possibilities of hand-printing with the baren.

Q: How did you approach your submission for the PCA Print commission 2017?

RK: I created an image to be executed in several carved woodblocks working in the same manner as my broader body of other woodblock prints.  I usually work within traditional Japanese techniques with pigment-stained water. Due to the timeframe and edition size I used Akua inks and retained all the other aspects of hand-printing with a baren.

Q: What are some of the foundation ideas that have guided the creation of the visual content of the work you submitted?

RK: Combining elements of architecture juxtaposed with organic forms along with the softness of colours at nightfall and use of shadows to create voids of space.  The layers represent shifting times and cultures that have influenced my life from living in Japan. Trying to capture light in an image is also important and evoking the Japanese concept of ‘Ma’ , a pause in time or space.

Q: How does it relate to your broader body of work?

RK: It is part of my broader body of work as I expand on the complexity of multiple blocks of exacting registration and careful inking techniques.  This print takes elements of a much larger work that has just been shown in Serbia for the International triennial.

Q: What were some of the technical challenges involved?

RK: This print has been created from twelve defined blocks which are at times printed more than once to create the graduation of colour. One block took 4.5 hours to print into the run of 55 prints. The entire edition was built up gradually very differently to printing intaglio technique. Maintaining the same impression of the wood grain is very challenging and demanding as exacting amounts of inks must be applied and evenness of pressure applied by hand with the baren

Q: What other projects are you working on?

RK: I have been invited to represent Australia at the International Print Biennale in Duoru, Portugal, in 2018 so I am now working on a large diptych woodblock image for that exhibition. I am also participating in the Third International Mokuhanga Conference in Hawaii in September this year and have been selected as a finalist in the international juried exhibition.

Prints can be ordered at www.printcouncil.org.au