A Postcard from Printing the Page, State Library of Victoria

On Tuesday 31 May, a rhyme of poets and an impression of printers/artists descended on the Keith Murdoch Gallery at the State Library of Victoria (SLV) for ‘Printing the Page’, a special workshop conceived and coordinated by Marian Crawford (artist, lecturer and PCA committee member) on behalf of the Print Council of Australia and in partnership with SLV (with special thanks to Suzie Gasper) in celebration of poetry and letterpress printing.

Marian Crawford typesetting with participating poets; type tray; Greg Harrison typesetting with participating poets.

As well as forming part of the PCA’s fiftieth anniversary program, and acknowledging the important relationship between the PCA and SLV, which houses a complete set of the PCA’s Print Commission archive, there was a particular emphasis on the social dimension of print culture.

In setting the tone of the day, Crawford observed that ‘printmaking as a fine art practice is often extremely sociable, and this is observable both in the way a printmaking studio runs, in the sharing of equipment and of practical tips in process, and in the social nature of the printed image itself.’ She also cited this line from Alberto Manguel’s from The Library at Night: ‘Knowledge lies not in the accumulation of texts or information, nor in the object of the book itself, but in the experience rescued from the page and transformed again into experience, … In the reader’s own being.’

Carolyn Fraser, Andrew Gunnell, Marian Crawford, Greg Harrison and Rosalind Atkins preparing for the poets; Francesca Sasnaitis casting her editorial eye over Andrew Linden’s poem prior to typesetting.

Indeed, this spirit of creating new experiences and discovering a greater range of creative possibilities infused the atmosphere of the day. Workshop participants were invited to bring along a three-line observational poem to set and print. To help out throughout the day with inspiration, typesetting and printing, Marian invited Carolyn Fraser (printer, writer and founder of idlewild press), Richard Harding, Rosalind Atkins, Andrew Gunnell and Greg Harrison (all artists, lecturers and printers); Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison (artists with a special interest in artist books); and Francesca Sasnaitis (poet and founder of Ratas Editions).

Carolyn Fraser sharing her typesetting skills with attending poets.

Following the setting and printing of poems, the space was opened for public letterpress demonstrations, where many curious punters circulated and experienced the setting and printing of their names, or observed Francesca and Louise compiling and hand-binding the results of the earlier poetry workshop in a single edition of ‘Printing the Page’.

Rosalind Atkins displaying type locked up in a chase with one of the participating poets and her freshly printed poem.

Rounding out the day, Marian Crawford spoke about her relationship to the printed page, explaining that her ‘most insistent and persistent fascination within fine art is centred around the printed image, and includes the fine art print, the printed page, and the relationship between text and image on the printed page which then extends to the book and literary studies, poetry and writing’. She then invited Carolyn Fraser and Francesca Sasnaitis to the stage. Francesca explained the collaborative process that lead to her and Crawford’s beautiful publication The Unstable Edge, and performed a reading from its pages. Later, Marian and Francesca also performed readings of the poems produced in the Printing the Page workshop.

Richard Harding printing event participants’ poems on one of the three Adana Presses; Greg Harrison and Marian Crawford sharing their typesetting skills.

Carolyn Fraser gave a short, but tingle-inducing, presentation on the history of letterpress and amateur journalism finishing with a point that cannot be emphasised enough in this time of constant commercial pressure:

‘Rare today is the use of the word “hobby” (other than pejoratively). People have “projects” these days; the pursuit of pleasure has been supplanted in almost every area of life by economic imperatives. We may be witnessing the very last generation of amateur printer/journalists, but the influence of their activity has been vast. Gutenberg‘s press augured the beginnings of the Enlightenment. The toy press gave voice to America’s youth. Experimentation breeds expertise, amateurism breeds passion. America would be as equally impoverished had Thomas Edison not published the Grand Trunk Herald as had he not invented the phonograph, the telegraph or the electric light bulb. The word amateur comes from the Latin – amator – lover. This is what lasts – that which we love. Our culture depends on it.’

Hear, hear!

Printing the Page participants holding their letterpress printed poems (clockwise): Rachel, Fiona and Monique, and Sandra.
Clockwise: Julie De Silva reading ‘Violin’ the poem she brought to set and print; Lou Baxter quoting a popular maxim that she chose to set and print; Andrew Linden reading ‘Dreaming’, his paraphrased version of a verse from the poem ‘Last Night as I was Sleeping’ by twentieth century Spanish poet Antonio Machado.

Q&A with Vanessa Wallace

In order of appearance: Vanessa Wallace, Negotiate 3–7 (installation shot), solvent transfer, chalk transfer and coloured pencil on Fabriano Tiepolo, each print 100 x 43 cm; Fleeting 8–11 (installation shot), heat transferred digital print, stitched block on acrylic shelf with handwritten text, 9.5 x 9.5 x 9.5 cm. Below: Negotiate 5 (detail), solvent transfer, chalk transfer and coloured pencil on Fabriano Tiepolo, 100 x 43 cm.

‘I walked into the print room at the Central Institute of Technology in 1999 and was instantly fascinated by the presses. Throughout art school both at central and then ECU I found print processes the main way I was able to give material form to my conceptual concerns as an emerging artist.’ 

Why do you make art?

I can’t imagine not making – it has become integral to my way of moving through the world.

What’s your relationship to printmaking?

It forms part of my everyday. Both through making prints in my own practice and working as an art technician specialising in printmaking at Edith Cowan University.

How did you get interested in printmaking?

I walked into the print room at the Central Institute of Technology in 1999 and was instantly fascinated by the presses. Throughout art school both at central and then ECU I found print processes the main way I was able to give material form to my conceptual concerns as an emerging artist.

Who is your favourite artist?

The Boyle Family, Hamish Fulton and Richard Long were all artists that influenced the early development of my work. I don’t have a favourite artist as such and find it changes depending on what I get to see either online or by visiting galleries.

What is your favourite artwork?

Again it changes. One work that I keep being drawn back to is Great Piece of Turf by Albrecht Dürer.

Where do you go for inspiration?

The everyday. A quite moment and a pause to catch something unnoticed. I find if I make one thing a day, even if that is a photograph of the ground that I title it keeps the thoughts flowing somewhat. Working in an art school helps as I’m lucky to be constantly around other artists at various stages of practice.

What are you working on now?

A series of tiny artists books and a few smaller works.

Vanessa Wallace‘s exhibition Shuffle will be on display at the Spectrum Project Space, Edith Cowan University, Mount Lawley campus, until 3 June 2016.

Workshop: The Painterly Print

Top: Bruno Leti, No. 6 from Intonaco Series, 2015, oil monotype (unique), 76 x 56 cm.
A page from the original article published in Imprint Autumn 1997, Volume 32 Number 1.

‘The monotype surface, although flat and relatively smooth, fully records an active and varied manipulation of pigment that precedes transfer to paper, in reverse. This transfer of a fresh painting or drawing is meant to yield just one (‘mono’) print (‘type’). Therefore, they are unique images rather than multiples. So, strictly speaking, they are neither paintings, drawings or prints!’

The following article was written by Bruno Leti and published in the Autumn 1997 issue of Imprint Vol. 32 No. 1.

Monotypes are printed paintings or printed drawings; they resemble no other prints, be they engraved, carved, etched, lithographed or computer-generated. The monotype surface, although flat and relatively smooth, fully records an active and varied manipulation of pigment that precedes transfer to paper, in reverse. This transfer of a fresh painting or drawing is meant to yield just one (‘mono’) print (‘type’). Therefore, they are unique images rather than multiples. So, strictly speaking, they are neither paintings, drawings or prints!

As a painter–printmaker, the monotype satisfies both my urges to paint and print. There is no preparation of a matrix and little if any technique to speak about. Having pulled scores of editions in various mediums over the past thirty years, it is a wonderfully freeing experience not to cut, etch, engrave or chemically treat a plate to resolve an image. With ‘monotyping’ a sequence of images can be attained immediately in the procedure to resolution.

The monotype first came to my notice in high school art rooms in the fifties. I remember a young enthusiastic art teacher and artist, Barry Gange, who, with the help of art students, made a crude etching press from a mangle. He demonstrated to us the many possibilities of attaining an image by pressing one surface against another surface. These early, unique, rough images had a lot of charm and immediacy which inspired my imagination. But it was not until I began to travel in the mid sixties that I first saw monotypes made by Degas in Paris, and those made by Picasso in Barcelona. They beauty and freshness of these prints remained ‘impressed’ in my mind for a long time. Some years later in the United States, I also saw monotypes made by Milton Avery and those by Richard Diebenkorn which reinforced the idea that this medium had great potential.

It seemed to me from the start that making monotypes was another way of making paintings. The ‘push’ and ‘pull’ of creating an image with oil paints and printing ink was an exciting alternative to directly painting on canvas or board. There were obvious limitations of course: you could not apply paint too thickly or it would ‘squash’ under pressure and the image would be reversed after the pressing. However, because I prepared monotypes on the back of discarded etching plates, I was quite comfortable with painting on a hard surface not unlike the Masonite I used in the early days.

Historically, the monotype technique goes back to the mid-1640s, to painter–etchers such as Rembrandt in Amsterdam, and Giovanni Castiglione, a lesser-known Italian from Genoa. It was probably Castiglione who began to manipulate printing ink on copperplates so as to print a continuous tone, analogous to an ink watercolour wash. Both artists were deeply involved with the texture of paint, making hundreds of painterly drawings using brushes or other drawing tools that produced a broad stroke. In their prints, both artists sought tonal effects through the use of drypoint burr, and by utilising accidental or intentional granular biting. The only true printmaking practice available at that time that produced a continuous tone was mezzotint, then still in its early days. Neither artist attempted this method, but instead painted with printing ink on the surfaces of copper plates. Rembrandt left ink ‘smeared’ on selected areas of his etched plates but it was Castiglione who actually made drawings into thick ink spread on a smooth copper plate which produced the first true monotype.

One of my favourite artists, the poet William Blake, developed a method of transferring his handwriting and drawing in monotype onto copper plates, etching these in relief, and printed from the surface of the plate. This evolved from his explorations of printing book illustrations in colour. The first complete book he produced in this method was Songs of Innocence. Blake used the monotype combined with hand-painting and colouring.

From the end of the eighteenth century, when William Black executed his highly original ‘printed drawings’ until nearly the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the art of the monotype largely lapsed into disuse.

Around the 1860s, there was a resurgence of the technique by the painter–printmakers Adolphe Appian and Ludovic Lepic in France. They were interested in the dramatic effects of light and dark and the rich tonalities that could be obtained by wiping and brushing ink over an etched matrix, which provided a linear quality with tonal effects. However, it was left to Edgar Degas, probably the greatest exponent of the monotype in the nineteenth century, to add another dimension which made the technique more viable and important by experimenting with wiping, brushing and often retouching the finished works with pastels. It was a time when Degas was seeking a release from the tradition of precise linear draftsmanship. This new freedom to manipulate paint and printing ink resulted in a different aesthetic, more akin to the Impressionist ideal. Other artists such as Pissarro, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Mary Cassatt, and the American painter-printmaker Whistler, made monotypes near the turn of the century and into the twentieth century.

The modern monotype has attracted artists from Degas to Gauguin to Munch to the German Expressionists. The craftsman-like approach to printmaking by the Bauhaus teachers also encouraged students to experiment with monotypes. Picasso, Rouault and Matisse produced monotypes during their time and when Dada and Surrealism emerged in Europe, the acceptance of any material at hand as a potential ingredient of art cleared the way for many artists such as Dubuffet, Tobey, Ernst and Klee to extend mixed media processes in conjunction with monotype. Frottage, ink-blots and other transfer or pressed methods were incorporated.

The appeal of Oriental art and calligraphy with its scribbles, strokes, drips and smears is seen clearly in the work of Gottlieb, Motherwell, Jasper Johns, Sam Francis and Miro. Their love of free lines and natural textures so much in evidence in their paintings also appears in their monotypes. Today, print workshops around the world have taken an active interest in the monotype, aided by master printers, technical inventions and ongoing experimentation.

It has been said that most artist–printmakers discover the mysteries of monotypes on their own, working along with other mediums and through trial and error. I have found the right balance and comfort zone for me, with an emphasis on the direct and the forthright which requires that a picture’s surface, its pigment, and the presence of the artist be immediately felt. Monotype is a painter’s medium. It was born of a painter’s imagination and restlessness and is a perfect tool for improvisation and realisation.

REFERENCES

Adhemar, J. 1975, Degas, The Complete Etchings, Lithographs, and Monotypes, Viking Press, New York.

Brown, K. 1992, Ink, Paper, Metal, Wood, Crown Point Press, San Fransisco.

Grishin, S. 1994, Bruno Leti’s Monotypes, Transart, Melbourne.

Plows, P. 1988, Collaboration in Monotype, University of Washington Press.

Reed, S. & Ives, C. 1980, Monotypes from 17th Century to the 20th Century Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

NOTE

A monotype is made from a ‘pure’ painted image on a smooth surface (e.g. copper, zinc, perspex, etc.), which is then pressed onto paper to yield one unique impression. A monoprint matrix has some fixed elements together with unique, hand-painted areas on its surface which can be somewhat replicated when painting.

Bruno Leti was recently awarded the Print Award in the 2016 Swan Hill Print and Drawing Acquisitive Awards for his monotype No. 6 from the Intonaco Series (pictured at top).

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.

A Postcard from Prue MacDougall: SGCI, Portland, Oregon

Clockwise from top: SGCI Open Portfolio 2016 (Prue MacDougall); SGCI visit to Gamblin InksTrans-Dimensional Exhibition of 2D & 3D prints, SCGI 2016.

I had been looking forward to attending my second Southern Graphics Council International (SGCI) conference for some time. One thousand six hundred printmakers descended on Portland, Oregon, for one of the biggest annual gatherings on the US printmaking calendar.

The theme for this year was ‘FLUX … the edge of yesterday and tomorrow’. This time I knew to make selections that interested me in advance, from the many events on offer. Seventeen Panel Sessions, eight incubator sessions, twenty-one themed Portfolio exhibitions, a mentoring program, gallery exhibitions, four open portfolio rounds, a visit to Gamblin Inks, and the Product and Publishers Fair made it impossible to attend everything in three days!

I loved every minutes of it: meeting likeminded artists, being able to take part, and seeing some really inspirational work and demos.

Next year’s SGCI will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, 15 – 18 March, 2017. The theme is ‘Terminus’. For more information visit the SGCI website or email sgci2017@gmail.com.

Prue MacDougall is an artist printmaker from New Zealand. She was one of the 2015 PCA Print Commission artists.

A Postcard from Melissa Smith: Printed Stuff

All images were taken during the opening of Printed Stuffcourtesy of Melissa Smith.

Hi All,

Great opening at the s.p.a.c.e. Gallery in Launceston on Thursday (5/5) for the show Printed Stuff, one of the shows on the calendar for the Year of Print … wonderful turn out. David Marsden had accumulated an incredible collection of prints … almost a museum of print!! He had borrowed works form the University of Tasmania collection, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, private collectors and more! There was even a 1987 PCA poster on display! He had printed fabrics, toys, ceramics … it really is a fantastic exhibition!!

Have a read of Printed Stuff curator David Marsden‘s statement:

Before there was Banksy there were stencilled handprints in Australia and other places, followed a long time later in China by stamps and seals carved from stone, and, later again, in Europe by playing cards carved from pear wood. Then sometime later a Bible printed by Gutenberg and then Apocalypse by Dürer, and quite a while later by William Morris wallpaper and the floating world of Hokusai and then the German expressionist woodcuts.

The elaborate engravings of the silversmiths and armour makers became the Battle of the Sea Gods by Mantegna, then Dürer’s  Knight, Death and the Devil. In later times, along came engraved postage stamps and banknotes and maps and calligraphic letterheads and the Melbourne Cup. With chemistry came etched copper plates by Rembrandt and Goya and Piranesi and then Willow pattern plates and, by and by, the halftone plate for photographs and Bea Maddock. Somewhere along the chemistry line Aloys Senefelder quickly made a laundry list lithograph on limestone, a process which languished commercially until artists got hold of it and proved its worth – Benjamin West, Fuseli and Goya again, and Toulouse Lautrec, Kevin Lincoln and Jan Senbergs. Stencils in Japan became silkscreen in Britain, which became Liberty prints, enamelled street signs and then Reg Mombassa and Eat Your Garden posters and Chameleon.

The letterpress, which came down the linotype line from Gutenberg, became the The Illustrated London News with wood engraved illustrations, which gave way to the chemical etching of photographic plates and gravure and reigned supreme until Senefelder’s process lithography became offset onto everything from tin toys to Willow pattern tins, jam labels, book covers and The Examiner.  Now in its fiftieth year, the Print Council of Australia has long been devoted to print as art. This exhibition, Printed Stuff, celebrates this and the art of printing.

Melissa Smith is an artist and a PCA Committee Member.

Printed Stuff will be on display at s.p.a.c.e Gallery until 27 May.

Regionalism–Localism: The Debate Goes On

A page from the original article published in Imprint Autumn 1992, Volume 27 Number 1.

‘Anyone living and working as a visual artist in Central Victoria encounters difficulties similar to those artists working in almost any isolated area of Australia, be it Perth, Townsville, Mildura, etc.’

Cover for Imprint Autumn 1992 Volume 27 Number 1 featuring Filomena Coppola’s Retrospect, colour Xerox print, 28 x 38 cm.

The following article was written by Barry Weston, author and former Head of Printmaking at LaTrobe UCNV, Bendigo, and published in the Autumn 1992 issue of Imprint Vol. 27 No. 1.

In 1986, four Western Australian printmakers put together a funding submission, presented to the government, to establish an access print workshop in Perth. That year was not a good year for financial support towards print workshops – however, Mr Chris Prater, master printer and founder of Kelpra Studios, London, was in Perth (the final venue for a series of PCA organised workshops) and in his letter of support for the original submission, in part, stated that of the printmaking he had seen in WA, he was pleasantly surprised at the high level of technical proficiency and also of the strong conceptual content of the prints, given limited resources away from the mainstream of contemporary printmaking in a geographically isolated city such as Perth.

Anyone living and working as a visual artist in Central Victoria encounters difficulties similar to those artists working in almost any isolated area of Australia, be it Perth, Townsville, Mildura, etc.

It is extremely difficult for artists working in geographically remote areas not to be affected by the very vastness of this country, well away from what is regarded as the ‘centre’ of contemporary art practice and debate. It is easy to withdraw artistically and to create works whose criteria rely upon the standards of interest, originality, forcefulness and quality which exist and are nurtured outside of our own backyard – becoming regional – within this context, the meaning of regionalism is one of acceptance – the acceptance of simplistic answers to complex artistic questions – an art form not of identity but of artefact.

In fact art is culturally dependant, if artworks do perform a didactic function by reflecting the values, taste, sensitivities and concerns of a particular artist’s socio–cultural environment, it is very difficult for artists working in remote areas of this country, confronting contemporary art concerns, to have support and interest from that community for an art form whose criteria of relevance is not only visual but also conceptual.

Ironically it is not a geographic/isolation factor alone, nor is it one of population density which makes a city/town develop an exciting, stimulating community with sincere interest in the arts – this depends upon the quality of the artists themselves, the dialogue and interaction between themselves and the community and the community’s support and understanding. The town of Castlemaine in Central Victoria is an excellent example of this, sustaining an aware and enthusiastic interaction between artists and community, and also hosting an annual arts festival with diverse artists invited.

Bendigo and its region are served by Artspace Incorporated, an alternative gallery for contemporary art which also offers studio space. In the past Artspace has attempted to produce a quarterly art journal, specifically for addressing contemporary art ideas and debate. Little finance but great enthusiasm has kept this alternative venture going.

In an article in the December–January 1991-92 issue of Art Monthly Australia, Mr David Hansen reports on the recent ‘Off Centre’ conference organised by Umbrella Studios, Townsville, which addressed a number of issues raised here. In part, the article states – ‘Naturally, there was no consensus in this debate. Sarah Follent warned against regionalism as rhetoric, while Helen Waterman insisted that art is a silent practice. Some called for workshops, residences and seminars to bring the regions “up to speed” on current issues … All called for better utilisation of local media to promote and review regional art making.’

I would tend to agree with the consensus of this conference – that it should be possible to be confident of ‘making good art, right here, right now.’ However, the making and understanding of art is not a simplistic endeavour. It requires effort, imagination and an ability to articulate those specific concerns pertinent to the artist.

A good analogy is that of learning a second language – but a language which constantly changes its rules of grammar. In learning this language one has to accept constant re-learning as one works and views, for art is a self-conscious language, and understanding, describing and relating to the world is a very important part of its function. Sad to say there are numerous people in both city and township who see no relevance in ever attempting to learn a second language.

Nevertheless, there are artist/printmakers who produce strong work both technically and conceptually outside of the hermetically sealed Melbourne–Sydney axis, and those do address issues not of a localised phenomena, but, through the force of their own vision and determination, produce work that is of an international standard. Many of these are young women artists who have a commitment to content and expression as their foremost concern; they seem to have a more coherent attitude to the need for content and relevance in their art. The reasons may be varied, but this attitude has become a positive source of energy and intention for the present generation of emerging artists.

Two printmakers working in Central Victoria who readily come to mind are Ms Karen Hepworth and Ms Filomena Coppola.

Karen Hepworth works predominately in the mediums of screen, relief and corborundum prints. Her work deals with a broad and subjective analysis of the issues and social problems which concern her. Through all of her work there is an underlying feeling of black humour – these works revolve around exploitation, sexuality and sensuality. They become an attempt at resolving the dilemma of what is the difference between eroticism and pornography, of sexuality and sensuality. Is sexual behaviour (whether portrayed or enacted) anything to do with morals? Her work also attempts to visually represent gender differences specifically involving differences of emotional response.

Filomena Coppola works in the mediums of lithography, and screen, although she has worked in suites of colour Xerox prints. Thematically her work revolves around multiculturalism – the problems of an ethnic upbringing in an Australian environment, of attempt of reconciling a European cultural heritage with a white Anglo-Saxon tradition, a tradition which, until quite recently, has been intolerant of anything ‘foreign’.

In recent debates on multiculturalism issues, little has been addressed towards assimilation and its affect upon the first generation of migrants born in this country. Ms Coppola’s work addresses these issues with compassion and sensitivity and serves as an explanation from her point of view.

Her work attempts also to reconstruct a cultural identity, to answer specific questions of identity by utilising images, memorabilia, family photography, etc., in an attempt to clarify, to some degree, her confusion; to find answers to questions and simultaneously find her own specific identity. Her large screenprint A1 loves Betty and Betty loves A1 probably comes closest to resolving some of these questions.

In Decline of the West, Oswald Spangler wrote that art – ‘is a seismograph that gives advance notice of subtle changes in rhythm, the stirrings and rumblings from within a culture.’ Both of the artist/printmakers mentioned are among a large number of artist/printmakers, working in central Victoria, away from access print studios, contemporary art debate, major exhibitions, interactive dialogue, etc., but who nevertheless have addressed themselves to contemporary visual art concerns of our time and culture.

The regional artist who attempts to address such issues constantly find themselves in a frustrating dilemma; however, there are a number of strategies which can be utilised to overcome these problems.

Networking – loose associations of artists with similar interests and concerns; exchange print exhibitions – utilisation of local media to stimulate community support; co-operatives of pooled resources – utilisation of electronic media (e.g. fax exchange prints, etc.).

It is interesting and surprising for the artist who believes that they are living and working in a geographically isolated area to discover that within their own community there is enormous peer group and community support if they make that initial move to locate, explain, exhibit and discuss their work. Australian printmaking as an art form, has hopefully passed through the era of being the poor cousin to painting and sculpture, passed through the concept of being seen merely to be about its own internal dynamics of technique. Hopefully it has now reached the point of maturity to discover its true potential; to respond to the cultural, social, economic and political development of our society/culture at large.

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!

Q&A with Rew Hanks

In order of appearance: Rew Hanks, A Touch of Home, 2015, linocut, 75 x 111 cm; Captain and his Bunnies, 2015, linocut, 104 x 75 cm.

‘Now I make art to try and fulfil a continual creative pursuit. I usually enjoy solving the intellectual and technical processes and challenges that arise. I seem to have adopted the role of a type of ‘Pictorial Choreographer’ who invents complex narratives that evolve during their execution.’ 

Rew Hanks lives in Sydney, NSW.

Why do you make art?

As a child I intuitively made many drawings and paintings without hesitation or fear of criticism. It was a luxury of uninhibited creative freedom that was never to be repeated as the future became more complex with increased knowledge and continual self-appraisal. As a teenager in high school I was introduced to the history and theory of art and years of very limited practical tuition. The teachers and other students would often comment, ‘Only the dummies and delinquents choose art as a subject’. Fortunately I didn’t fit either of these categories. At art school I was overwhelmed by the endless possibilities of making all forms of art and obtained a broader appreciation of the historical and contemporary concepts of art. Now I make art to try and fulfil a continual creative pursuit. I usually enjoy solving the intellectual and technical processes and challenges that arise. I seem to have adopted the role of a type of ‘Pictorial Choreographer’ who invents complex narratives that evolve during their execution. Many of my friends from art school have given up producing art because of the financial burden, lack of exhibition opportunities and the poor general support from the community. For me making art has become a fundamental and intrinsic part of my life although at times continually being creative can feel a little like a curse.

What’s your relationship to printmaking?

Like most professional relationships it is good most of the time but it can be frustrating even infuriating, demanding and rewarding. We have a healthy respect for each other. The constant pressure to produce new and engaging works requires discipline, dedication and plenty of hard work. You must constantly challenge yourself to progress. During the many hours taken to cut my intricate linocuts I use this time to prepare new ideas and compositional concerns for the next work by quickly sketching possible images or concepts. Printmaking has become the major vehicle or outlet in which I use to help realise my creative output. This has evolved partially because of time constraints due to heavy teaching commitments. However it allows me the freedom to develop the work of my choice. We all have productive and not so productive days and must accept that not every print is going to sing. This happens to all artists no matter what medium they use. In the future I am very keen to resume my relationship with lithography and pursue wood engraving and embark on a series of small sculptural works.

How did you get interested in printmaking?

Similarly to most Australian school children I was introduced to linocuts in high school when I was about fifteen. The tools were rusty and blunt and the linoleum was brown, crumbling and brittle. We printed by hand rolling up with oil based Sakura inks and then used the back of a wooden spoon rubbing frenetically on the shiny side of a sheet of MG litho paper. Most of the impressions were smudged with the borders covered with inky fingerprints and the occasional splash of blood from nearly severed fingers. What a perfect introduction to a beautiful medium. It’s little wonder when students are reacquainted with the medium they uniformly shudder. I occasionally produced linocuts but was seduced by lithography in art school. After completing further training in America I produced mainly lithographs for many years, both mine and for other artists. However, for the last fifteen years I have exclusively exhibited linocuts because I thoroughly enjoy the physical act of carving and printing of the medium and also it gave me freedom to interrupt its execution at will unlike lithography.

Who is your favourite artist?

An impossible question to answer. There are too many to list.

Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt, Honoré Daumier, William Hogarth, George Stubbs, John Glover, Red Grooms, Edward Hopper, etc. They all offer something unique that might inspire an idea or maybe just to simply admire.

What is your favourite artwork?

Another impossible question to answer. It changes regularly. The process of discovering a ‘new’ favourite artwork keeps it exciting and refreshing. Visiting the Louvre, Uffizi, Rijks and MoMA museums is why I can’t attempt to answer this question.

Where do you go for inspiration?

As an artist you are continually absorbing images and ideas from everything around you. It might come from newspapers, journals, books, TV, the internet, exhibitions or just from a simple conversation. All of which are stored in your memory waiting to be reactivated when needed. Mobile phones and  iPads are also regular methods of instantly capturing a spectacular bank of clouds or unique shadow. However being surrounded by too much stimulus, both cognitive and visual, occasionally leads to frustration because of the lack of time to bring some of these ideas to fruition.

What are you working on now?

I have just shipped off thirty-five linocuts to Redcliffe Art Gallery in Brisbane for a survey exhibition that opens on 7 May. I’m a finalist in the Basil Sellers Prize which opening on 22 July at the Ian Potter Museum in Melbourne. The work must relate to sport in Australia. All the prints I have produced portray Captain Cook playing cricket, golf and surfing with a satirical contemporary twist. This sporting theme will continue but with Indigenous references for my first solo exhibition in Melbourne which opens at Nicholas Thompson Gallery on 22 September. I have just been awarded Third Prize in the Bietigheim-Bissingen’s Graphic Arts Prize Linocut Today X and hope to attend the award ceremony on 15 July in Germany.