A Postcard from Beth Evans: The Hungarian Multicultural Centre

Clockwise from top: Beth Evans (on right) with fellow artists-in-residence; Beth Evans, Plant Head, 2016, monotype, 18 x 23 cm; Beth Evans, Mask II, 2016, monotype, 18 x 23 cm.

I attended an artist residency during the month of June at the Hungarian Multicultural Center Inc. (HMC), in Budapest. The HMC is a non-profit organisation dedicated to inspiring, connecting and exhibiting artists of all nationalities. The residency is open to visual artists, writers and performers and provides them the opportunity to produce new work while engaging with the arts community in Budapest. During the residency HMC holds artist talks, workshops and presentations, and participants visit a range of exhibitions. Its aim is to provide artists with a supportive community and uninterrupted time to work.

My fellow residents were a young couple Alyssa Dillard and Bret Adams from Texas, USA. I enjoyed their vibrant company immensely and we shared many evening conversations about art and life over a glass of Pálinka in the garden. Upon our arrival, Beata Szechy, artist, curator and executive director of HMC, marked our city maps with cultural sights and places of interest and sent us off to explore Budapest using its wonderful transport system. Beata kindly introduced us to her network of friends, artists, writers and curators at the various gallery openings we attended. Along with her constant canine companion Maxine, she generously took us on many informal tours of the city and surrounding countryside.

Its distinctive blend of the old and the modern makes the city an architectural wonderland. In Budapest you can find 2000-year-old Roman ruins, beautiful Gothic churches, fabulous Renaissance opera houses, lavish Turkish communal baths, grand Baroque palaces, impressive Classical train stations and glorious Art Nouveau architecture. The city is enthralling. It is simultaneously uplifting and down-to-earth, a busy metropolis and at the same time a peaceful haven. We were lucky to be there for ‘The Night of Museums’ held on Midsummer when the many galleries and museums are open from 2 pm until 2.30 am. Around fifty museums, exhibition halls and other venues welcome visitors with art, literary, folk and gastronomy programs. They feature a wide range of children’s programs, which offer both fun and education to the whole family on the longest day of the year. Not only do prominent museums and galleries take part, but also, curious places such as the Hospital in the Rock Museum and the Postal Museum. We also took the opportunity to see Beata’s solo exhibition Könny (v) ek/Tears of Books at the prestigious Petofi Literary Museum. Another highlight of my stay was a visit to the Aquincum Museum and its extensive collection of letterpress and printing presses.

The residency gave me the opportunity to experiment and to explore new directions in my art practice. The informal sessions in the garden, where Beata and I sipped our morning coffee, exchanged ideas and discussed the progress of my work, became a daily ritual which we both enjoyed. I produced a series of monotypes during my stay, two of which were included in the Környezetvédelem/Enviromental Project exhibition curated by Beáta Széchyin and displayed at Galéria 12 Kávézó és Borbár, Budapest, from 24 August to 11 September.

Beth Evans is a printmaker and book artist and works from the Tannery Printmaking Studio in Adelaide.

2016 PCA Print Commission Q&A: Pia Larsen

‘I make art today because I continue to enjoy the challenge of synthesising ideas through materials, process, time and place.’

Why do you make art?

I come from a family for whom making art, and living with art, is a way of life. I grew up in a creative environment and learnt early on how to work with ideas from one state to another. I make art today because I continue to enjoy the challenge of synthesising ideas through materials, process, time and place.

What’s your relationship to printmaking?

I have been using printmedia since childhood and its complexities and qualities have been formative for my work in print and other mediums.

How did you get interested in printmaking?

At Kinma Primary School I had a brilliant art teacher, Angelika. Her approach was non-hierarchical and encompassed sculpture, lino, batik and screenprinting, as well as field trips to places such as Long Reef, where we gathered ‘found objects’ (rubbish) to arrange in a large bed of plaster.

How did you approach making your submission for the PCA Print Commission?

My submission consisted of three works. Two were completed during an artists residency in the US at the Women’s Studio Workshop, October–November 2015. The third image, from 2016, juxtaposes two paper milk carton objects with digital images printed on the surface, also created during the residency. This work plays with scale and uses time and place to explore the geo-politics of the US.

Whose work have you been enjoying lately?

I have been looking at Cindy Sherman’s work and her latest incarnation of female archetypes; Baldessari and David Noonan for their use of overlay and appropriated images; and Kiki Smith as a woman artist who uses a broad range of processes and has interesting things to say about being an artist and the context in which she works and lives.

Where do you go for inspiration?

I look at artists’ work online and visit exhibitions around Sydney and interstate. I read across a range of topics and listen to programs on Radio National that explore philosophy, politics, religion and the day-to-day lives of Australians, and people from around the world.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on bottle objects in paper with watercolour/gouache that reference the US flag, its colours, pattern and potent symbolism. They will be exhibited in a group show with Charles Cooper and others, to coincide with the outcome of the US election in November, at SLOT Space in Redfern, Sydney.

To view this year’s commission prints visit the PCA website, pick up a copy of the spring 2016 issue of Imprint (Vol. 51 No. 3), or visit one of the participating venue galleries listed below:

David Ferry: The Gentle Flavours of Surrealist Chewing Gum

Images from top, left to right: David Ferry, Canterbury Cathedral, 2010, digital archive print, 42 x 59.5 cm; Westminster Abbey, 2010, digital archive print, 42 x 59.5 cm; Ely Cathedral, 2010, digital archive print, 42 x 59.5 cm; Princes Street, Edinburgh, 2010, digital archive print, 42 x 59.5 cm; The Langton Arms, 2010 digital archive print, 42 x 59.5 cm.

In the lead up to the exhibition David Ferry: The Invader’s Guide to the British Isles at The Post Office Gallery, Federation University, Ballarat, UK artist Professor David Ferry will present a lecture hosted by the PCA at the Fitzroy Town Hall next Thursday (see details below). In the following essay, which will also form part of the exhibition catalogue for The Invader’s Guide to the British Isles, writer and lecturer Stephen Clarke discusses Ferry’s Belligerent Rock Intrusions.

One late evening in summer in a large, quiet barn, the artist David Ferry screened the film The Devils (1971) for a small group of friends. As the night closed in, and the air became ever cooler, the film heated up to reach its crescendo with the burning of Oliver Reed and the destruction of the fortification of Loudun. Set in seventeenth-century France, the controversial film by the English director Ken Russell mixes violence, religion and sex, including an orgy scene in which the crucifix is defiled by disrobed nuns.

Ferry considers the act of defilement as central to his art practice and he revels in comedic drama to colour his images. His core subject and source material are the inoffensive picture-book guides that fill the shelves of high-street charity shops. These books offer an innocent perspective on British life, emphasising a shared national heritage that appeals to genteel middle-class tastes. Ferry defiles these scenes in the manner that a small boy pees in the municipal swimming pool. Slight alterations by the addition of material alien to an existing image result in a change of flavour. Unlike the explicit drama of Russell’s violent depiction of the crucifix attacked, the purity of the picture-book scene is desecrated by permissive intrusion.

Ferry is conscious of this tactic of alterations made to books. It has its roots in the Surrealist movement but is also employed by British satirists. Notable examples that Ferry refers to are the books altered by Joe Orton (1933-1967) and Kenneth Halliwell (1926-1967). They had smuggled books out of their local public library, modified the covers, and then returned them to the shelves to be found by the unwary. For the text on the dust jacket of one book they typed: ‘READ THIS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS! And have a good shit while you are reading!’.[1] Foul taste becomes a weapon against propriety. In 1962, following their admission of damaging more than seventy books, the pair were jailed for six months. Officially, their actions had been judged vandalism; historically, these altered book covers have become artistic interventions collected and exhibited.[2]

Montage and vandalism are close bedfellows. A common sight on city streets are billboard posters defaced by chewing gum. These are casual intrusions made by the passerby who takes the masticated substance from their mouth to stick to the surface of a photograph. The gum, now imbued with the saliva trace of the monteur, has a less desirable flavour and this is part of its visceral impact. The small, hard rocks eventually lose their adhesion: intent and act are cursory. Ferry’s Belligerent Rock Intrusions have more longevity. In the series of prints made from his altered book, images and text from guides to rock climbing collide with pictures from a tranquil British scene.[3] Offence is not to be found with either the intruding rocks or the place where they land, unlike the additions made by Orton and Halliwell, and the gum-chewing public: the concoction remains palatable. Ferry’s intention is not to shatter national identity and heritage with a brick but instead instigate questioning through humorous intervention.

Zealous intervention can be rewarded with crushing consequences. In an effort to rid the village of Avebury of rocky inhabitants, a medieval Barber-Surgeon was crushed to death by a particular belligerent rock under which he lay for six hundred years. Avebury’s Neolithic stone monuments – already ancient when the Romans invaded Britain – were by the tenth century considered intruding megaliths. Their destruction and desecration wasn’t halted until the introduction of Sir John Lubbock’s Ancient Monuments Act of 1882;[4] and their preservation was only secured when archaeologist Alexander Keiller purchased the site in 1934.[5] Within a decade, Keiller had re-erected stones, created a museum, and arranged for the National Trust to take over as custodians.[6] These rocks, now no longer intrusions, are instead the foundations of British heritage with previous actions towards them being deemed vandalism. Today’s intruders are the tourists who pay for their visit through car-parking charges, admission prices to the Trust’s properties and, of course, obligatory sweet-tasting ice creams.

Conscious of the invasion of modern tourism, the National Trust has limited the number of souvenir shops in an effort to curtail the appetite of the commercial maw that the stones represent. But, the gamekeeper becomes poacher as the Trust that protects heritage fills its own purse. Although access to Avebury is free, visitors still pay a price. This is more apparent at neighbouring Stonehenge where access is strictly controlled. In her book Our Forbidden Land (1990), the photographer Fay Godwin recalls that her request to English Heritage for permission to photograph Stonehenge over a period of time was allowed on condition that she pay a fee of £200 per visit.[7] It is this payment to get into heritage sites that Ferry’s series of prints, Belligerent Rock Intrusions, questions. His solution is that the visitor can learn to climb into, and onto, the heritage site.[8] Humour belies a fundamental concern which is whether our national heritage is a right or a commodity. His photomontages are acts of trespass, and yet the host accommodates the invader. Unlike the unfortunate Barber-Surgeon who was felled by the stone, Ferry’s climbers cling to the surface immersed in embrace.

The Barber-Surgeon resurfaced again in the 1977 television programme Children of the Stones that was filmed at Avebury. Recast as a poacher named Dai, the Barber-Surgeon is killed off in the same manner as his medieval counterpart. In this production the village, renamed Milbury, is trapped within a time circle where events are continuously repeated. This stagnation is reinforced in the climax to the drama as the villagers meet a petrifying fate: they are actually turned to stone. The wards of the Heritage Industry may have been cast the same fate. In an effort to protect the fabric of the past, a place and its people undergo a process of petrifaction.

Paul Nash (1889-1946), an artist influential upon Ferry, addressed an appeal to the past while paying attention to the advances of the present. By the mid-1930s Nash’s work became a blend of abstraction and surrealism that interpreted motifs from the past. He had a particular interest in the stone circles of the south of England and was given a tour of the Avebury site by Alexander Keiller.[9] The artist depicted the ‘Landscape of the Megaliths’ although his interest was not in archaeology, history or religion, rather the stones served as formal pointers for modern painting.[10] For Nash the stones were not petrified remnants but objects that had current purchase. Avoiding choking on the dust of the past, whilst trying to picture the national heritage, is a hazard of which the contemporary British artist must be wary. Ferry’s attempt to reinvigorate this landscape is to use the Nation’s own compost: Orton and Halliwell’s shit becomes fruitful manure. Ferry refers to this approach – the use of pre-existing photographic images from second-hand books – as ‘re-re-cycling [sic]’. [11] Like Nash, Ferry revisits a past to propose a new surreal landscape, one where the rocks assert their presence and the inhabitants negotiate this new territory with the textual guidance from experienced climbers.

Reference to Nash and British Surrealism is a conscious decision in Ferry’s practice; his predecessors are the veteran climbers who show him where to find his grip. The barn where Ferry shared an evening with The Devils was sited at The Rodd, the farm on the border of England and Wales where the Australian artist Sidney Nolan (1917–1992) had settled in 1983.[12] Nolan was an unexpected resident in this location: he was out-of-place. This ‘angry penguin’, a surrealist from hotter climes, was noted for his depictions of the Australian outback and the anti-hero Ned Kelly.[13] Kelly, the bushranger, became famous for his use of homemade armour that crudely resembled the attire of a European knight. This mêlée of penguins and knights in the desert is transferred to the quiet of a rural town sandwiched between two countries. What should not be there finds a home. It is this ‘out-of-place’ quality that exemplifies Ferry’s practice. The defilement that he relishes is mischievous tampering by the addition of that something extra. Vandalism, trespass and indifference are implied by the title Belligerent Rock Intrusions, but it is agreeable synthesis that Ferry’s montages create. Much like Blackpool rock, the hard-boiled confectionary stick manufactured in Ferry’s hometown, the best way to consume national heritage might be to gently suck rather than vigorously bite.


[1] Quoted from the defaced flyleaf of Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers, altered 1959-1962. The collaged book forms part of The Joe Orton Collection at Islington Local History Centre, London.

[2] Orton and Halliwell’s local library was Islington Public Library. An exhibition at Islington Museum in 2011-12 titled Malicious Damage: The life and crimes of Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell in Islington displayed some of the altered books.

[3] The altered book is titled, David Ferry’s Britain in Colour with Belligerent Rock Intrusions mainly in Black and White (2006).

[4] Caroline Malone, Avebury (London: Batsford/English Heritage, 1989), pp. 122-23.

[5] Ibid., p. 126.

[6] Ibid., pp. 126-131.

[7] Eventually the fee was waived but Godwin was permitted only one visit. See: Fay Godwin, Our Forbidden Land (London: Jonathan Cape, 1990), p. 23.

[8] Ferry’s first exhibition of prints from Belligerent Rock Intrusions was titled: Climbing Over Britain (Impact 6 International Printmaking Conference, 2009).

[9] Keiller gave Nash a guided tour of Avebury in 1938. See: Sam Smiles, ‘Ancient Country: Nash and Prehistory’, in Paul Nash: Modern Artist, Ancient Landscape, ed. Jemima Montagu (London: Tate, 2003), pp. 31-37.

[10] Ibid., pp. 31-37.

[11] David Ferry, email to the author, 8 October 2012.

[12] The Rodd in Presteigne, Wales is the site of the Sidney Nolan Trust. Members of The Cardiff Sessions printmaking collective were based at The Rodd, producing collaborative lithographs for their exhibition at the Sidney Nolan Trust in August 2013, when the film was screened. David Ferry is a printmaking consultant to the Sidney Nolan Trust.

[13] Sidney Nolan was part of the movement Angry Penguins that sought to shake up the cultural establishment in 1940s Australia.

This essay has been produced for the occasion of the exhibition David Ferry: The Invader’s Guide to the British Isles, 26 October – 19 November 2016, at the Post Office Gallery, Federation University Australia, Ballarat.

Belligerent Rock Intrusions has been exhibited at: Woodfinch Gallery/Simon Finch Rare Books (in association with The National Print Gallery), London, 2010; Impact 6, University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, 2009.

The altered book, David Ferry’s Britain in Colour with Belligerent Rock Intrusions mainly in Black and White (2008), was purchased by the Jack Ginsberg Artists’ Books Collection, Johannesburg in 2012.

Stephen Clarke is an artist, writer and lecturer based in the North West of England.

2016 PCA Print Commission Q&A: Heather Kunjarra Koowootha

‘I showed my drawings to printmaker Theo Tremblay three years ago and he invited me to make prints with him. I saw prints by the artists at Canopy Arts (in Cairns) and was curious how they were made.’

Why do you make art?

I have to make some artwork because it’s a whole new journey through life experience.

What’s your relationship to printmaking?

I became interested in printmaking because it allows me a full range of tones, textures and fine detail. I am beginning to work with colour and I can try different colours and see how they work in with my ideas.

How did you get interested in printmaking?

I showed my drawings to printmaker Theo Tremblay three years ago and he invited me to make prints with him. I saw prints by the artists at Canopy Arts (in Cairns) and was curious how they were made.

How did you approach making your submission for the PCA Print Commission?

I was working on this print about the history of my mother’s people and how they were forcibly removed from Fitzroy island, near Cairns, the missionaries burning the village to force them to the boats to take them to the mainland, and Mr Tremblay suggested I send a proof to the PCA for consideration. I was overjoyed when they accepted it, because, after all it is a very personal statement.

Whose work have you been enjoying lately? Where do you go for inspiration?

Foreign artists, represented in art galleries in Cairns, and artists I come in contact with. I live in a remote area of Queensland and look forward to big exhibitions like Inkfest at the Tanks Art Centre in Cairns, like what we just had recently. I am inspired by North Queensland Indigenous works by artists such as Paul Bong, Sid Bruce Shortjoe and Mylene Holroyd. They are doing etchings and it encourages me to keep going. I also get inspired by stories from my elders and childhood memories.

What are you working on now?

I’m working up a series of drypoints on Perspex about a colonial battle which took place in Yarrabah, where my great-grandfather, Tobias, was a war hero. I’m also working on some small etchings making fun of racist politicians.

Congratulations to Heather Kunjarra Koowootha who received the Indigenous Artist Award as part of this year’s commission.

To view this year’s commission prints visit the PCA website, pick up a copy of the spring 2016 issue of Imprint (Vol. 51 No. 3), or visit one of the participating venue galleries listed below:

From Dreamtime to Machine Time

Above: the article as it first appeared in Imprint Vol. 21 No. 3–4, 1986, pages 6–14.

‘Within the first weeks of taking office, the Government established a Department of Aboriginal Affairs, set up an enquiry to ascertain how Aboriginal land should be returned to its people, withdrew Australian forces from Vietnam, endorsed the principle of equal pay for women and increased funding for the arts. It was within this affirmative context, and with the desire to preserve and promote their visual culture and to achieve financial independence, that Aboriginals began experimenting with printmaking.’

Cover for Imprint Vol. 21 No. 3–4, 1986, featuring Johnny Bulun Bulun’s Goonoomoo, 1983, lithograph, 56 x 37.8 cm.

The following article was written thirty years ago by former Imprint editor Roger Butler, Senior Curator of Australian Prints, Drawings and Illustrated books at the National Gallery of Australia, and published in Imprint Vol. 21 No. 3–4, 1986. This was the first themed issue of Imprint and was devoted to the work of Aboriginal artists. This article was also the first overview of Aboriginal printmaking ever published.

From Dreamtime to Machine Time [1]

It is not by chance that Australian Aborigines began to produce prints in the early 1970s. The need to preserve and promote the rich traditions of their visual culture has laid the foundation of a vital new form of artistic expression. The emergence of prints by Aborigines must be seen in the context of their demands for self determination, the politics of the counter culture, and the development of printmaking in Australia in the 1970s.

For some forty thousand years Aboriginal people have inhabited the continent of Australia, each having a clan and totemic relationship to a particular place where their ancestors came from in the Dreaming, and where their spirit will reside after death.

For the Aboriginal people land is a dynamic notion; it is something that is creative … Land is the generation point of existence; it’s the spirit from which Aboriginal existence comes. It’s a place, a living thing made up of sky, of clouds, of rivers, of trees, of the wind, of the sand, and of the Spirit that has created all those things; the Spirit that has planted my own spirit there, my own country … It belongs to me; I belong to the land; I rest in it; I come from there.[2]

With the European invasion of Australia in 1788, the Aborigines were systematically dispossessed of their land which not only stripped them of their traditional sources of food but also struck at the very heart of their culture. Added to this was the breaking up of clan groups by consecutive government policies of integration. Although there was a continuous struggle for the recognition of Aboriginal rights, it was not until the 1960s that the modern Land Rights movement began.

On 28 August 1963 the Yirrkala people presented a petition to the House of Representatives. Written in their own language on bark, it requested that a special committee be set up to hear their views before granting of mining rights on the Gove Peninsula. They finally issued a Supreme Court writ against Nabalco, but the Court found that, although the Aboriginals had established a spiritual relationship with the land, they could not successfully claim it under common law.

By 1971 when this decision was passed down, there had emerged a generation of Australians who supported Aboriginal Land Rights; they were the children of the post-war baby boom who reached maturity in the late 1960s. Affluent and well educated, they often did not hold the same values as their parents. Searching for more enduring values than the rampant materialism which had flourished in the 1950s, they challenged conventions and embraced alternative lifestyles.

Major issues at that time were the end of the Vietnam war and the use of nuclear power; women’s and gay liberation; conservation and Aboriginal Land Rights. Some people sought to ‘opt out’ of the system, to return to the land and self-sufficiency, others embraced esoteric religions. Cheap overseas flights made the ‘global village’ a reality, while the relaxation of the ‘white Australia policy’ and the introduction of Asian students, all contributed to an increased awareness by Australians of this country’s multicultural make-up.

Alternatives were also being sought in the art world. Painting, particularly ‘hard edge’ colour abstraction imported from America, was rejected as ‘bank art’ – decoration for a capitalist society. Rather, it was unsaleable, ephemeral or democratic art forms that were taken up. Earthwork sculpture, ritual-like performance art, community-based co-operative projects, video, photography and printmaking became the most vital areas of activity.

Printmaking facilities were established in schools and commercial print workshops opened. Screenprinting was particularly popular, due to the inexpensive equipment needed, and the ability to produce multi-colour prints. The cheapness and ‘contemporary look’ of screenprints also led to their adoption by political artists.

These diverse elements came together in 1972. The Aboriginal Tent Embassy was set up on the lawns in front of Parliament House in Canberra; Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd was established at Papunya in Central Australia and Ernabella Arts Inc in Alice Springs; the Australian Union of Students began planning the Aquarius back-to-earth festival at Nimbin, New South Wales; the Australian Prints exhibition was held in London; the Earthworks Poster Collective was formed in Sydney; and in December 1972 a Labor Government, the first for twenty-three years, was voted into power.

Within the first weeks of taking office, the Government established a Department of Aboriginal Affairs, set up an enquiry to ascertain how Aboriginal land should be returned to its people, withdrew Australian forces from Vietnam, endorsed the principle of equal pay for women and increased funding for the arts. It was within this affirmative context, and with the desire to preserve and promote their visual culture and to achieve financial independence, that Aboriginals began experimenting with printmaking.


A continuing tradition

Australian Aborigines have no tradition in printmaking processes, other than the stencilled images (usually of hands) that are to be found on cave walls throughout Australia. Printmaking techniques have been acquired, initially, from school-teachers, craft advisors, or from white artists.

Some of the earliest Aboriginal prints were produced by Bede Tungutalum at Nguiu, Bathurst Island, some one-hundred kilometres from Darwin. The open sea which separates Bathurst Island and its neighbour, Melville Island, from Northern Australia, has led to the development of a culture distinct from the mainland. The Tiwi people are renowned for their singers, songwriters, dances, and their carved and painted wooden sculptures. Bede Tungutalum learnt the rudiments of woodblock cutting and printing from Madeline Clair, the local art teacher, and in 1970, together with Giovanni Tipungwuti, he established Tiwi Designs. Their woodblock prints of the early 1970s often resemble Tiwi carved designs and stress the interdependence of the different crafts. Birds such as that depicted in Tipungwuti’s Tiwi Bird Design feature in many Tiwi creation stories. By 1983 Tiwi Designs concentrated on screenprinted fabrics and employed seven workers.[3]

One of the printers was Ray Young, originally a member of Earthworks Poster Collective, and later a craft adviser to the area. The latter position was also once held by Colin Little, the founder of Earthworks, demonstrating the parallel concerns between workshops like Tiwi Designs and the political postermakers of the 1970s.

Other early examples are from Galiwinku (Elcho Island), which is well to the east of Darwin. Here there was a strong local tradition involving the engraving of designs on wooden smoking pipes. In 1971 John Rudder, who worked at the mission, provided Monydjirri, Charlie Matjuwi and Botu with lino blocks of a colour similar to the ochre Elcho Islanders painted onto the wood before engraving their designs. The designs they cut were on the same small scale as those on the pipes. Printmaking did not develop within the community, and the blocks were not printed until over a decade later.[4]

Non Aboriginal artists frequently initiated such isolated experiments. In early 1970 printmaking had been introduced to both Nigeria and New Guinea in this way.[5] In 1976, while visiting Arnhem Land, Jörg Schmeisser (Head of Printmaking Department, Canberra School of Art) traded information with Albert, an Aborigine of the area. Schmeisser demonstrated how prints were produced, and Albert demonstrated the preparation of bark for painting. This exchange resulted in Albert’s production of a small drypoint of animals, emu and fish, an impression of which is now in the Australian National Gallery collection.

In 1978 Schmeisser also worked with a now deceased Aboriginal artist and his sons while they were artists-in-residence at the Australian National University. They drew their images directly onto the zinc plates using lithographic crayon as a resist, (and in one example line etching) which were then etched and printed. Although the reversal of the images was unexpected by the artists, they were satisfied with prints like Bandicoots and viewed them as an interesting excursion into another medium, but one they found no need to pursue.[6]

The first products of the new-style Aboriginal art to become widely known in Australia, were paintings in acrylic on board or canvas from the central desert area of Papunya, three-hundred miles west of Alice Springs. In 1972, the Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd was founded to distribute and promote the paintings from the area. The production of prints was fostered by commissions given to already successful painters.

In 1978, Dinny Nolan Jampijinpa, a leading member of the Anmajera tribe from the central desert area, was commissioned by the Canadian Government to produce a print for the Commonwealth Print Portfolio. An artist from each country competing in the XI Commonwealth Games was flown to the University of Alberta, Canada, to produce the prints. Australian officials did not think Dinny would ‘be able to handle it’. Instead Lyndal Osborne, the co-ordinator of the project, flew from Canada to Melbourne where Dinny spent two weeks working at the Victorian College of the Arts under the supervision of Bea Maddock (‘Boss woman’). Dinny drew his design directly onto five lithographic plates that were then proofed by Osborne. Maddock remembers Dinny’s first reaction to the finished prints coming off the press; he considered them to be ‘white man’s art’ but later seemed happy with them. The final printing was done in Canada, but due to difficulties in printing, two of the lithographic plates were converted to screenprints.

The only other image in the Commonwealth Print Portfolio not produced at the University of Alberta was by Kenojuah, an Inuit (Canadian Eskimo) artist.[7] Like the Australian Aborigines, the Inuit people have no tradition of printmaking. But since 1958, when relief printing techniques were introduced to them, the Inuit have rediscovered their artistic heritage of stories and images. A strong market for Inuit art has developed enabling many of the artists to achieve financial independence. Inuit prints have been distributed through the Canadian Eskimo Arts Council since 1965 and exhibited in Australia in the early 1970s.[8]

It is likely that the success of such models influenced the Aboriginal Artists Agency (established in 1978) to produce a set of six screenprints by artists from the Western Desert. The project was initiated by David Rankin, director of the print publishers Port Jackson Press and Anthony Wallis, manager of the agency. The two artists selected for the 1979 project were Johnny Bulun Bulun and David Milaybuma, both from the Maningrida area of West Arnhem Land. They were flown to Melbourne and stayed at the Windsor Hotel while they worked at Mal Studio with the screenprinter Larry Rawlings.

In their bark paintings, both artists work in a traditional manner systematically applying one colour at a time to build up the easily recognisable images of the animal and plant forms of their region. A similar procedure was used in creating the screenprints with the artists sitting on the floor and applying block-out directly onto the screens with a twig brush. A proof of the first colour was printed, the second screen placed over it and the second colour drawn. The process was continued until the image was complete. The screens were then printed in thick matt inks mixed to match the samples of traditional earth pigments the artists had brought with them. The editions of 90 were then signed by the artists.

These were the first prints produced by Aborigines that were marketed widely. Colour brochures were sent to twenty-two thousand American Express card holders, but despite this wide publicity only fifty-four prints sold; the most popular being those like Bulun Bulun’s Flying Foxes. They were then distributed through regular Port Jackson Press outlets and later the Aboriginal Artists Agency. A second set of three prints by Willi Tjungurrayi, working collaboratively with his brother, Charlie of the Pintubi Tribe from the Western Desert, was printed in 1981 – Bandicoot ancestors fighting over fire at Taltaltanya is a typical example.[9]

Johnny Bulun Bulun is of the Ganulpuynga clan of Central Arnhem Land, and a supporter of the Out Station movement whereby Aboriginal people return to their ancestral lands and teach traditional values to the young. Bulun Bulun has moved his own family from the main Government town of Maningrida to establish his own settlement at Gamedi. Though living in this remote area, he travels to other States to promote Aboriginal work at exhibitions and to attend conferences. In 1983, he attended exhibitions in Canberra in July and December and on his second visit once more experimented in printmaking.

Theo Tremblay, Lecturer in Drawing and Printmaking, was instrumental in making the facilities and expertise of the print workshop of the Canberra School of Art available to Aboriginal artists. The lithographic process proved an ideal method of working for Bulun Bulun. His print Goonoomoo has a sensitivity that seems lacking in his earlier screenprints. Perhaps the process of working on stone – creating the design by a combination of painting then scratching in the cross-hatching – had more affinity with traditional modes of work than drawing onto acetate overlays.[10]

Joe Croft, who acted as publisher, also arranged for England Bangala to work with Tremblay at this time. Bangala was born at Gochan-Jiny-Jirra, near Maningrida, West Arnhem Land, and is an important ceremonial person of the Gunardba tribe. This collaboration resulted in two lithographs.[11]

The Second Briennial Conference of the Institute of Aboriginal Studies held in Canberra at the Australian National Gallery in May 1984, brought together large numbers of Aboriginal artists, craft advisers, teachers, historians and anthropologists. It was the venue for much trading of information. Banduk Marika was one Aboriginal artist who attended the conference and her meeting with Tremblay resulted in her being appointed artist-in-residence at the Canberra School of Art later that year.

Marika was born in 1954 at Yirrkala Mission, near Gove in Eastern Arnhem Land, and moved to Sydney in 1973 (at about the same time that Nabalco started mining). After a time in Darwin and a broken marriage, she returned to Sydney in 1980 and began painting. With the support of Jennifer Isaacs she began to produce linocuts, the technique she is primarily known for today (although she has also worked successfully in lithography). The cutting of her blocks is closely linked with the engraving of designs on wood, common to people along the coast of North Eastern Arnhem Land. Marika first exhibited during the Women’s Art Festival in Sydney in 1982 where, together with Isaacs, she collected and presented an exhibition of Aboriginal women’s craft work.[12]

Western society has marginalised women’s art including that produced by Aborigines. It is slowly being acknowledged by Europeans that Aboriginal women, due to their relationship to the Dreaming, are the custodians of certain ceremonies, stories, music, dances and images. If Aboriginal women have been acknowledged at all in the arts it has been for functional wares. Baskets and string bags, often woven in intricate patterns or decorated, have been produced by women since the Dreaming. More recently the art of fabric dyeing has been introduced, the best known being the batik fabrics produced at Ernablla since 1972. In 1980, the Pitjantjatjara Women’s Council was established, and Aboriginal Women’s Arts Exhibitions held. However, encouragement for Aboriginal women to produce paintings and prints has been relatively slow.

The only community to promote women printmakers is at Indulkana. Situated in the north west of South Australia it is a settlement of about two hundred and fifty Pitjantjatjara and Yankuntjatjara people. The linocut process was introduced to the community in 1982, by a Flinders University student, Adrian Marrie, and since then many women have been producing prints. Initially, the prints were monochrome, but now multicolour works are also produced. The introduction of an old proofing press has speeded printing. In 1983, an exhibition of linocuts by Lippsie Everard, Kanakiya, Josie McArthur, Eileen King, Suzie Presley, Sylvia Derose, Margo Brown, Sadie Singer and Joanne Winjin was held at the Women’s Art Movement Gallery in Adelaide.[13]

In Western Australia a number of Aboriginal artists have made their first prints at classes run through the Prisons Department Art Programme at Fremantle. Linocut printing has been taught since 1979, and from 1984 etching. The workshop is currently run by Steven Culley and David Wroth. Some Aboriginal artists trained at the centre are now producing work on outstations, and other Aborigines are learning the processes from them.[14]

As with the Indulkana community the prints cross cultural styles. Some images are traditional, some are in a western manner, others a mixture of the two. Prints by Jimmy Pike have been exhibited widely in Australia over the last two years and he is the best known of the Western Australian group.[15] Born in the Great Sandy Desert, Pike’s early life was spent as a member of a nomadic group, with his family living in a traditional style, hunting, gathering and moving according to the seasons. Later when his family moved north he began working as a stockman in the Fitzroy Valley.

In 1980, while at Fremantle, Pike began to paint, drawing upon the lore of his ancestral country and the stories he had absorbed as a youth. He mostly works in the simple linocut technique but engraves his blocks with such vigour that they are in danger of breaking up. For this reason most of Pike’s prints have been transferred to screenprints for editioning. Some such as Mirnmirt, are translations of traditional sand drawings while other prints have more recent events as their subjects. Jarlujangka Wangki deals with irresponsible bomb-dropping exercises held in the desert during the Second World War. The non-traditional subject matter produces a corresponding change in imagery. Since 1985 Pike has also produced colour screenprints.

Dennis Phillips Deeaggidditt was born in Leonora, four hundred kilometres north-east of Perth. His linocut The Blind Man tells one of the stories of his people, some of which have been passed on to him by his great grandfather. Mervyn Street, another Aboriginal artist who has worked at Fremantle, has also recently begun making linocuts based on traditional stories.

One of the few traditional Aboriginal artists to produce etchings is Martin Dougal, from the Broome area. His paintings, etchings and linocuts convey the intensity of light, colour and heat found in ‘the breakaway country’.

Another innovative project being undertaken by the Western Australian Aboriginal artists is the illustration of the story The Girl who danced with Brolgas. Jackie McArthur, Dennis Phillips, Wilbur Porter and Jimmy Pike – all artists from different areas – have pooled their feelings about this particular story and their land and expressed them in a series of monotypes, which will be published shortly in book form.


Urban Koories

In her introduction to Koori Art ’84 the Aboriginal rights activist Bobbi Sykes commented that

While the world would rather think of Aboriginal artists as frozen in the pre-Cook era, contemporary black artists confront the conscience of the global public with images of our modern reality … this provides the black artists with their subject matter, and, often their means.[16]

Koori art is produced by urban Aboriginals who are often trained in western traditions but, as Sykes notes, have ‘one foot firmly in each world’.

Most of the urban Koories are younger artists (born in the 1950s or early 1960s) who grew up after the breakdown of the government’s ‘assimilate at all costs’ policy. But the distinction between traditional and Koori art is not hard and fast; for instance Banduk Marika, whose traditional prints have already been discussed, lives in Sydney. She exhibited in Koori Art ’84 as did Ernabella Arts Inc, Alice Springs, which promotes Pitjantjatjara women’s art.

It is not always easy for Koori artists, much criticism coming from within Aboriginal society. Some are criticised for not being the rightful owners of the images they use and are sometimes regarded as little more than fashionable image scavengers.

Raymond Meeks was born in Sydney in 1957 and after gaining a Certificate of Art in Queensland, completed his Diploma and post-graduate studies at Alexander Mackie College of Advanced Education in Sydney. He was awarded his Bachelor of Arts from City Art Institute, Sydney, in 1984. Although primarily a painter and printmaker, Meeks has also produced illustrations for the Aboriginal newspaper AIM, posters for Koori Art ’84 and Jack Davis’ play Honey Spot, and he was commissioned by Australia Post to design the Australia Day stamp for 1986.[17] His linocut Mimi displays the crisp cut and the immediacy that he likes in this technique. It also shows his use of often familiar Aboriginal motifs from different tribal areas. He explains, ‘I am obsessed by that imagery – Papunya, Maningrida, Yirrkala. I am trying to blend them because it works for me. I am hunting for lost pieces of myself.’[18]

The Koori art movement is strongest in Sydney. Fiona Foley, born 1964, studied at East Sydney Technical College, and Sydney College of Arts. During 1983 she was a visiting student at St Martin’s School of Art, London, and on her return to Australia worked as an assistant at Max Miller’s printing workshop in Sydney. She has frequently produced etchings that have been printed in a monotype manner. Sea Shells on the Sea Shore is typical, with the realistically depicted shells floating over a nebulous background of sand, sea, spray and stars.[19]

In 1985 Foley travelled to Aboriginal communities at Bathurst Island and Raminginging in Arnhem Land, where she developed a few drawings which she would later use for etchings. ‘Watching the freeness of the children paint and the political subject matter they painted has also enabled me to feel free to choose topics and styles in which I can depict another view on Australian history.’[20]


Political posters

The political poster has been the main vehicle for overt political statements by Aboriginal printmakers. In this respect they take over the work begun by the Earthworks Poster Collective and others who produced posters demanding Aboriginal Rights in the 1970s, some of whom are still active in this field. Ray Young works at Tiwi Designs, Marie McMahon has worked for Mimi Arts and Crafts in Katherine, and Chips MacKinolty works for Jalak Graphics in the Northern Territory.

Avril Quail, a 1985 graduate of the Sydney College of the Arts, participated in the first Truth Rules OK?, a national touring exhibition of socially/politically orientated posters. Her screenprint No Tresspassers – Keep Out was produced at the Tin Sheds, University of Sydney, where the Earthworks Poster Collective originated. In Koori Art ’84 she exhibited a linocut portrait of a Christian and a screenprint Wulula, My Mother’s Land. More recently she has been working on a mural at The Settlement in Chippendale, an inner Sydney suburb.[21]

Community-based screenprinting workshops and projects have given many artists the opportunity to produce posters. Alice Hinton-Bateup was first employed by Garage Graphix in 1983 under the Wage Pause Programme and later under the CEP Scheme. She was able to continue her work in 1985 when the workshop received grants from the Aboriginal Arts Board. She has worked closely with the local Koori community, printing t-shirts, calendars, jigsaw puzzles and posters.[22] Dispossessed and Lost Heritage, both colour screenprints combining hand drawn and photo images, focus on the Aborigines’ loss of rightful heritage as they are distanced from their traditional land.

This theme of loss is also evident in the work of Byron Pickett. Originally from Western Australia, Pickett was appointed a trainee community artist with the Eyre Peninsula Cultural Trust from August 1984 to July 1985. His position was funded by the National Employment Strategy for Aboriginals and the Aboriginal Arts Board. During his period of training Pickett worked with many groups including Port Lincoln school students, the Community College, Port Lincoln Prison and Adult Aboriginal classes.

Research for his prints took Pickett to Adelaide, Port Augusta and the Flinders Ranges where he studied photographs and books and talked to many Aborigines. His colour screenprints often combine photographic imagery with text. Family painfully describes the dilemma of many Aboriginals.

In all these political posters the recurring theme is the loss of, and the need to protect, Aboriginal land. This is not surprising considering how little has been achieved since the Land Rights proposal of 1972.

Compared to the number of Aboriginal artists producing paintings on bark or canvas, there are only a few who have so far worked as printmakers. However, the very nature of printmaking – its ability to replicate an image – has enabled these few to reach a wide audience. Prints using traditional images, those produced by Koori artists, and political posters, will all contribute to the increasing self-determination of the Aboriginal people.



[1] The title of this article is taken from Trevor Nickolls’ exhibition From Dreamtime to Machine Time, Canberra Theatre Gallery, 1974. Nickolls is a Koori artist presently living in Sydney.

[2] Father Pat Dodson, ‘MSC in Report of the Third Annual Queensland Conference of the Aboriginal and Islanders Catholic Council of Australia’, January 1976: 16, quoted in Lorna Lippmann Generations of Resistance, Melbourne, Longmans Cheshire, 1981, p.46.

[3] See Adrian Newstead, ‘Tiwi Aboriginal Designs’ in Craft Australia, Spring 1983. Tiwi Designs, Sydney, Hogarth Galleries, 1982. Bede Tungutalum exhibited 2 woodcuts in the Print Council of Australia’s Second Western Pacific Biennale, 1978.

[4] Information from Theo Tremblay who also printed the blocks.

[5] Jean Kennedy, ‘Printmaking in New Guinea’ in Artists Proof, Vol. 11, 1971; for Printmaking in Nigeria, see ibid., Vol. 7, 1967. It might also be noted that the best known American Indian artist Fritz Scholder began making prints in 1970. See Clinton Adams, Fritz Scholder, Lithographs, Boston, New York Graphic Society, 1975.

[6] Information from Jörg Schmeisser, who printed the plates.

[7] Discussions with Anthony Wallis and Bea Maddock, August 1986. See also brochure accompanying Commonwealth Print Portfolio, This was supplied to me by Anthony Wallis.

[8] See Ernst Roch (ed.), Arts of the Eskimo: Prints, Montreal, Signum Press.

[9] Telephone interview with David Rankin, August 1986.

[10] Theo Tremblay has supplied the following details of this lithograph’s production:

Hand printed stone lithograph. Johnny applied gum acacia to areas designated white first. He then applied oleified bitumen in areas designated black. Finally a tone was created by air brushing the bitumen into areas traditionally reserved for areas of tone such as yellow ochre. An edition of fifty was printed onto Fabriano No. 5, 300 gsm cotton paper, as were five additional proofs reserved for the printers, the print workshop collection, and Joe Croft, publisher. An additional five proofs were pulled on bleached bullrush paper, made by Gaynor Cardew especially for the project.

[11] Discussions with Theo Tremblay, 1986.

[12] Biographical information derived from Urban Koories, Sydney, Workshop Arts Centre, 1986, and conversations with the artist.

[13] For information on the Indulkana community see the article by Janet Maughan on pages 16–17 of this issue. See also Minymaku Council Kulintja, Alice Springs, Pitjantjatjara Women’s Council, No. 1, 1985; Setting the Pace, Adelaide Women’s Art Movement, 1984; ‘Aboriginal Women: Ritual and Culture’, Diane Bell. Interviewed by Lesley Dumbrell in Lip 1978/79, Melbourne, 1979, pp. 5-9.

[14] Information about this Western Australia group of artists was provided by Steven Culley and David Wroth.

[15] See Jimmy Pike, his art and stories, Perth, Desert Prints, 1985.

[16] Bobbi Sykes introduction to Koori Art ’84, Sydney, Artspace, 1984.

[17] See Stamp Bulletin – Australia, Melbourne, No. 182, January 1986.

[18] Quoted in Urban Koories, Sydney, Workshop Arts Centre, 1986.

[19] Illustrated in Koori Art ’84, Sydney, Artspace, 1984.

[20] Urban Koories, Sydney, Workshop Arts Centre, 1986.

[21] Biographical information derived from Koori Art ’84 (where her work is illustrated) and conversations with the artist.

[22] Urban Koories, Sydney, Workshop Arts Centre, 1986.

2016 PCA Print Commission Q&A: John Ryrie

‘I have been interested in printmaking since I was about nine or ten years old. Picasso’s etching and lithographs were the first prints I looked at.’

What’s your relationship to printmaking?

Printmaking is my main medium. I am also a painter, sculptor and a musician.

How did you get interested in printmaking?

I have been interested in printmaking since I was about nine or ten years old. Picasso’s etching and lithographs were the first prints I looked at. I was eighteen before I made my first print.

How did you approach making your submission for the PCA Print Commission?

The ‘Waiters’ Race’ was part of the Lygon Street festival back in the 1990s.

Whose work have you been enjoying lately?
This year there have been a lot of good print exhibitions: at the NGV we’ve had DegasWhistlerJan Senbergs and, in the member lounge, Piranesi; in Ballarat, William Kentridge and Pam Hallandal. I have also been looking at Laura Knight, Stanley Anderson, Robert Sargent Austin, Günter Grass and Bruegel.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a folio of prints based on Punch and Judy. It was started in 2006 as a State Library fellowship project. There is an exchange folio called Panoply organised by Rona Green and another for the Scarlet Fund. I have one print in each of these. I am also working on another limited edition book that I hope to have finished by the end of this year.

To view this year’s commission prints visit the PCA website, pick up a copy of the spring 2016 issue of Imprint (Vol. 51 No. 3), or visit one of the participating venue galleries listed below:

2016 PCA Print Commission Q&A: Rona Green

From today until 31 October, our fabulous 2016 PCA Print Commission prints will be available to view at a range of venues around the country (please see details listed at the end of this interview). To celebrate and to offer a little peep into the worlds of the artists selected for the commission by our esteemed judges – Roger Butler, Senior Curator of Australian Prints and Drawings and Illustrated Books at the National Gallery of Australia, and master printer John Loane of Viridian Press – today we also kick off an interview series in which we will highlight one of the ten prints and artists involved in this year’s commission each week.

‘From looking at my work it is probably fairly easy to tell what is of most interest to me: animals, appearances, stories.’

Why do you make art?

It is deeply amusing to do so.

What’s your relationship to printmaking?

Involved and intense. It’s a very close friend.

How did you get interested in printmaking?

At La Trobe University in Bendigo during the early 1990’s I was taught by a couple of excellent printmaking lecturers (Peter Jacobs and John Robinson) who totally infected me with their enthusiasm for the medium.

How did you approach making your submission for the PCA Print Commission?

A lot of handsome cats have been drawing my attention of late so it seemed like a good opportunity to use one of these as a reference for the purpose of the print commission. The dapper cat character I conjured up lives a wild life. Hopefully he will provide interesting company for those who choose to have him come live with them.

Whose work have you been enjoying lately?

Derek Boshier, Michael Craig-Martin, Lee Lozano, Pauline Boty, Dorothy Iannone, Paul Compton.

Where do you go for inspiration?

From looking at my work it is probably fairly easy to tell what is of most interest to me: animals, appearances, stories. Artists whose work I admire include Alberto Giacometti, Jean Dubuffet, Francis Bacon, John Brack, David Hockney, Peter Blake, Diane Arbus, Philip Guston, Ida Applebroog, Leon Golub, and Ed Paschke. And I am particularly keen on Egyptian art and the Dutch Golden Age. Not to mention TV …

What are you working on now?

Preparing for a solo exhibition of printmaking at Bendigo Art Gallery and a solo exhibition of painting, drawing and printmaking at Australian Galleries, Melbourne. Both shows are scheduled for late 2017.

The 10th Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair: A Postcard from Laura Taylor

Images clockwise from top: DAAF map; Naiya Wilson (Durrmu Arts Aboriginal Corporation); Jean Baptiste Apuatimi, tungas.


As part of my day job with the Aboriginal Art Centre Hub of Western Australia (AACHWA) in Perth, WA, I had the opportunity to travel to Darwin at the start of August to attend the 10th Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF).

This popular three-day art fair is held each year to coincide with the prestigious National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (held at MAGNT), and provides visitors, galleries and serious collectors with an opportunity to buy art directly (and ethically) from Aboriginal-owned and incorporated art centres.

In 2016 DAAF hosted approximately sixty Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-owned art centres from across Australia – an astounding number presenting a mind-boggling offering of 2D and 3D arts and crafts. And since I was there I happily wandered around during the three days to check out which art centres were presenting works-on-paper.

Unfortunately I can share only a few images here of the otherwise hugely diverse and incredibly exciting selection that was on display at the Fair. And, to be honest, until then I didn’t fully realise just how many artists and art centres have engaged in printmaking either independently, or with the assistance of a master printer and/or print studio. Worthy of further research!

Paul Bong, vinylcuts.

So, my teaser selection of art centres and works are:

Top l-r: James Gaston, At the Show, Linocut, Larrakia Nation Arts; Lisa Michl, Ntarr I, 2009, etching, Umi Arts.
l–r: Timothy Martin, Leon Pungili and Cyril Modikan (Durrmu Arts Aboriginal Corporation).

There were also numerous art centres from WA; however, I hope to blog about them separately next year (in April 2017) when Warlayirti Artists from Balgo, WA, hold a print exhibition at Mundaring Arts Centre to coincide with the annual Revealed – WA Emerging Aboriginal Art Exhibition and Art Market – held at Fremantle Arts Centre. Until then!

Cheers – Laura

PCA Committee Representative, WA.

Q&A with Marco Luccio

I don’t tend to wait for inspiration to strike, I just go in my studio and work. I do, however, take time away to restore my energy and allow space for new work to come into being.‘ 

How did you start out as an artist?

I started out as an artist by doing VCE art then completing a fine arts honours degree at RMIT. I was always encouraged to be an artist by family, friends and teachers from very early on so it gave me a strong sense of what I wanted to do with my life. It hasn’t always been easy to pursue an art career, as most artists will attest, but it’s never been boring! It’s very fulfilling and at times absolutely thrilling.

What is it about printmaking that attracts you?

 I love the marks, the directness, the chances, the accidents, the absolute joy of the first proof, the satisfaction of completing a challenging piece, the unique possibilities of expressiveness, the relationship printmaking has to drawing, the integrity of the medium and the fact that, for me, the subject and the medium are often the same, interconnecting quite often with the themes I pursue and the manner in which I create the plates.

I love the way it feels to gouge deeply into a plate to create powerful and rich velvety blacks, and the contrast of sensitivity that a light touch allows. Each plate offers a new passport to exciting new worlds … and, of course, it’s plain great fun.

Can you tell us about the process of making work for New York Mythic?

It all began with my first trip to New York in 2007. I have made several trips to Manhattan over the years. This is a very large show. It features three bodies of work and around eighty-five artworks.

It pulls together a selection of the 2008 drypoints from the series Citscapes of New York. Also it includes a body of etchings that were started in 2013 but etched this year and will be shown for the first time in Australia as part of New York Mythic. Then there is the forty or so artworks made just this year, a collection of paintings, charcoal drawings, drypoints and mixed media.

To create New York Mythic I started by making sketches in situ in New York from various vantage points such as the Chrysler Building but also, for the first time, used photos as a reference. These were snapped whilst white knuckled and terrified (I’m afraid of heights!) in a helicopter flight over the City of New York.

I wanted this show to capture New York as an imagined and expressive construct, views that may give the viewer a new perspective not only literally but also in the use of mediums and approaches.

Some of the works are very big – up to eleven and a half feet. I think this engages the viewer in a way that smaller works don’t.

With these big images I poured ink and water and built layers over and over until the images started to guide me. I wanted to have a sense of scale that I had not previously explored. I also have drypoints in this show that are four by six feet. They are deeply gouged and were incredibly physically challenging to scratch, ink and print – though I think this physicality, this exertion of energy is fitting. The subject and the medium, as mentioned earlier, become one. New York has this monolithic sense of imposing power and a formidable presence and I was driven by these feelings in making the work.

Do you have particular rituals or routines that contribute to your creative process?

Yes I do. If I have time I like to start with a coffee at my local cafe and write in my journal. Sometimes I like to plan my day and have an idea of what I may tackle but other times that may change completely. I like to be organised but it generally doesn’t last longer than two minutes, and that’s if I’m lucky! When I’m right in the middle of producing a whole body of work it’s often a bit chaotic with a constant reordering to make sure I’m on track.

I like to have all sorts of music playing, classical, pop and lots of jazz or sometimes the football … I’m a sad Collingwood supporter, but it offers me a nice break from the studio. Cricket also gets a run at times.

I like to work regularly in my studio but also have great enjoyment making paintings and prints in situ on worksites or in landscapes. 

I don’t tend to wait for inspiration to strike, I just go in my studio and work. I do, however, take time away to restore my energy and allow space for new work to come into being.

What do you hope people will get from the experience of viewing your work?

I hope people get the feeling that they are not only seeing an image that represents the physical place but also a sense of what it’s like to be there, what your body might feel like when it’s in front of these cities or landscapes. What your senses tell you about a place. I hope the viewer might feel a sense of connection to the marks that represent the subject as much as the subject itself. I hope that they also may get a sense of me in the work too, and of themselves as much as the places I draw.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on a new book with the great author John Hughes.

Previously we worked on the book The Garden of Sorrows together, which featured sixty of my etchings, and are now collaborating on a new book. I have been making new drawings for that project. 

Also, The Garden of Sorrows is in early production to become a theatrical performance by the wonderful Snuff Puppets. The first introductory performance was performed at the NGV Australia last year and the further complete performances should be ready for touring next year.

New York Mythic will be on display at fortyfive downstairs from 13 September to 8 October.

Portland Bay Press: A Postcard by Kate Gorringe-Smith

Images clockwise from top: installation of Kate Gorringe-Smith’s work in the Portland Bay Press gallery window; Hertha Kluge-Pott, PBP Patron, printing on the new press 2003, photo by James Wallace; Carmel Wallace, Untitled, 1993, relief print, 120 x 80 cm (see exhibition details below).

Portland, Victoria’s oldest European settlement, lies four hour’s drive west of Melbourne and six hour’s drive east of Adelaide. Despite its geographical isolation, Portland has a thriving and outward-looking artistic community that in 2002 ambitiously decided to set up a public-access etching workshop and gallery.

The idea for Portland Bay Press (PBP) was born when a couple of presses became available from a local university print facility that was being closed down. In the end those presses did not find a home at PBP, but by then the idea had taken root, resulting in Carmel Wallace and Karl Hatton jointly submitting a successful grant application to Arts Victoria to establish an etching studio. At that time Carmel was the administrator of the Portland Emerging Artists Residency program and Karl was the Glenelg Shire Council Cultural Services Officer.

The energy that surrounded PBP’s beginnings was as volcanic as that which formed the local landscape. As a creative force it came into being fully-formed, boldly claiming its place on Australia’s printmaking map: it was opened on 19 July 2003 by Australian Print Workshop Director Anne Virgo and its champion and patron is renowned printmaker Hertha Kluge-Pott. Even before its official opening, PBP had already hosted six workshops with local and international artists: New York-based printmaker Denise Kasof; master printer Bill Young; Byron Bay artist Jay Pearse; retired head of printmaking at Deakin University Ron Quick; founding artist Carmel Wallace* and PBP patron Hertha Kluge-Pott. In its first months it also held three major exhibitions!

PBP is a facility that would be enviable in any city, let alone in a remote town with a population of under 10,000. The studio houses four presses: two Enjays (with beds 82 x 160 cm and 45 x 92 cm), a third smaller press, and a Wilson hand press. Based in the building of an old Hotel (the Union Inn, opened in 1849), the studio has beautiful natural light and the walls have been restored to create a professional gallery space.

To make PBP an even more enticing destination, artists can apply to use the two-bedroom apartment above the studio through the Portland Artist Residency Program. The program creates a mutually enriching opportunity for visiting artists and the local community. An original internal staircase gives artists immediate access from the apartment to the studio, providing the perfect opportunity for printers to stay in Portland and make use of the print facilities.**

A shopfront and an additional gallery space next door provide a hub for other branches of Portland’s creative community, and together with PBP and the apartment, these facilities form the Julia Street Creative Space arts complex. Portland is also home to Portland Arts Centre that has a gallery, a theatre and a studio space.

Since its ambitious beginnings thirteen years ago, PBP has confidently maintained its identity as a significant Australian art hub. Blessed by the proximity of the upstairs apartments and the strong artist-in-residence program, PBP continues to benefit from an ongoing flow of top-quality printmakers and other artists who are drawn to this inspiring part of the world.

*The founding members of PBP were: Carmel Wallace (Convenor), Therese Dolman (Secretary), Catherine Francis (Treasurer), Pat Jarrett, Deborah Bunce, Andy Govanstone,  Rebecca Marriott, Debby Punton, Jan Frost, Mel Halz, Annette Taylor, Pam Beinssen, Bronwyn Mibus, Mimi Murrell, David Burgoyne and Gordon Stokes.

**See the Portland Artist Residency website for further information.

Carmel Wallace: Printed in Portland – a survey of prints including early screenprints developed at portland community access print studio, and etchings, relief, and monoprints made at Portland Bay Press and in the artist’s studio – will be on display at Portland Bay Press from 2 September to 2 October. Opening: Saturday 3 September, 4 pm.

Kate Gorringe-Smith is an artist and the Vice President of the Print Council of Australia.