David Fairbairn: PCA Print Commission 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What were some of the technical challenges involved?

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

Q: What other projects are you working on?

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

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

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

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

 

 

Locust Jones: PCA Print Commission 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What were some of the technical challenges involved?

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

Q: What other projects are you working on?

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

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

 

 

Roslyn Kean: PCA Print Commission 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What were some of the technical challenges involved?

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

Q: What other projects are you working on?

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

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

 

 

Peter Ward: ‘Sleepwalking Toward the Apocalypse’

Above: Peter Ward, Wrapping Paper Quilt, 2017, 160 x 190 cm, quilted linocuts
Right: Peter Ward, Studio Selfie Quilt, 2016, 160 x 150 cm, quilted linocuts
Below right: Peter Ward, Earth Mother Gets Sold A Pup, 2016, 50 x 60 cm, linocut
Bottom: Peter Ward, Wrapping Paper 1, 2016, 50 x 60 cm, woven linocut

Peter Ward discusses his new exhibition at Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery

Q: The title of this exhibition is provocative and frightening—what is the central idea driving the content of the work?

PW: Though I have a very pessimistic view of how the world is going I’m not an unhappy person. I think this is a condition shared by many of us and as such we are all sleepwalking towards the apocalypse. Life is so comfortable that we can ignore or rationalise away the catastrophic problems facing us.

Q: Your use of colour is rich and full of feeling—almost contrary to the darkness the idea of the apocalypse is likely to suggest. What is the foundation of this approach and how do you balance those two extremes of light and dark, thematically speaking?

PW: I enjoy the tension created between the rich, colourful surface and the uncomfortable imagery beneath. On another level I simply enjoy playing with colour for its own sake. With my work Post Modern Serfdom I felt that black and white was a more appropriate response to the image though a coloured version does exist as a quilt. The Serfdom quilt is an excellent example of an attractive surface partially obscuring something disturbing.

Q: How do you combine the needs of embedding a ‘message’ in your work with the spontaneity of the creative process, without becoming too didactic?

PW: I don’t actually feel a need to embed a particular message into my work. Each work should be taken on its merits and it’s not compulsory for the viewer’s interpretation to correspond with mine. The ‘message’ is something that grows organically along with the colour and composition as I collage ideas prior to creating a print. My approach is intuitive. I juxtapose images that appeal and allow a narrative to emerge. I’m building a vocabulary of images which coincidentally compliment my pessimistic outlook. The volcano as a representation of unbridled natural power is one example and the extension of this to having an eruption emerge in backyard suburbia is an idea that appeals on both a surreal and allegorical level.

Q: How does this exhibition fit into your broader oeuvre?

PW: I simply finish one print and start thinking about the next. Because of the limitations of the medium and my own limitations as a printmaker I’m not always completely satisfied with the results but every now and again I transcend these limitations and create something special. I guess my oeuvre contains a dozen or so of these. With this exhibition I pitched a particular theme and I’ve tried to stay within that but I don’t feel compelled to always talk about the apocalypse. Next year I will be in residence at the Art Vault in Mildura and it will be interesting to see how the landscape of the Mallee region affects my imagery.

Q: What particular challenges emerged during the making of these works?

PW: One of the best things about the space I’m in at the moment is I can be ambitious with my ideas. While this presents challenges and risks, it is self-imposed and necessary if I want to develop as a printmaker. On a more personal level my wife died just over a year ago and since then I’ve moved my studio south from the NSW Southern Highlands to Geelong. This was an unwanted challenge but working towards this exhibition has proved therapeutic.

Q: What technical innovations have you employed for this suite of work?

PW: Linocut is not a high-tech sort of process. Its simplicity and directness is what drew me to the medium in the first place. I only feel the need to be proficient enough to communicate my ideas. I do weave and quilt my linocuts but these aren’t new techniques and both ways of working radically change the surface of the print and add extra layers of meaning. The woven Wrapping Paper series is far stronger than the straight printed version and I feel the Wrapping Paper Quilt will be one of the strongest pieces in the upcoming exhibition.

Peter Ward: Sleepwalking Toward the Apocalypse is at Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery 25 August-15 October.

 

Diane Masters: PCA Print Commission 2017

Above: Diane Masters, Ocean Drifters, 2017, carborundum and solar plate etching, 38 x 57.5 cm (image) 38 x 57.5 (paper)

Diane Masters discusses her work selected in the 2017 PCA Print Commission.

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

DM: Printmaking is a process-driven fine art and I think that really suits my personality. I love the fact that there are multiple options for image development. Creating an etching plate, lithographic stone, screenprint or linocut is always an exciting challenge but there is nothing quite like the joy of pulling the first proof to see if an idea is working and/or to revel in some unexpected outcome. After that, the repetition and rhythm of printing a series of prints is very satisfying.

My first introduction to print media was when I moved to Christmas Island in 1995. The Ran Dan Circus troupe was on the same plane, heading to the island as part of a four-month residency to develop activities with the island community for an arts festival during Territory Week. I quickly became involved in all aspects and particularly screenprinting T-shirts and promotional material. There was an active arts community on the island and all were willing to share their knowledge and experience.

With printmaking, you never really have to deal with the problem of having to confront a blank canvas. The very act of pulling an old print through the press, provides a physical starting point and often inspires new work.

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

DM: I have been collaborating with scientists for the past two years, looking at plankton. This proved to be an exciting project culminating in an exhibition Undercurrent at the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies  (IMAS) gallery. I really enjoyed the opportunity to use visual arts as a means of communicating the importance of science in understanding our impact on, connection to and dependence on a healthy environment.

The PCA commission is a continuation of that project and exhibition. The PCA image is focussing on the elegance of multiple jellyfish drifting as a group rather than images of a single discreet creature.

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

DM: Working with scientists, I felt a sense of urgency about drawing attention to plankton, these amazing, minute creatures which play such a life-preserving role in the scheme of our life on Earth. Jellyfish are also plankton and are ‘canaries in the coalmine’, signifying the health or otherwise of a particular marine environment. Looking into the microscope to me, was like looking into deep space and that is the basis of the visual content, deep space and a need to draw attention to our life preservers.

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

DM: My imagery is often drawn from my experiences of living in small rural and remote (island) communities. They address ideas of migration and resettlement, cultural shift and environmental impact.

One of the scientist collaborators in my recent work was my dive buddy at Christmas Island and when we dived together, we would ‘drift’ observing the minutiae of the ocean. Planktos means drift and that idea fits with my own movement through various landscapes, experiencing all they have to offer culturally, physically and emotionally.

Q: What were some of the technical challenges involved?

DM: My print has two layers. To create the richly coloured background layer as ‘deep space’, I needed to use a lot of ink. The drying time in winter, for that layer, proved to be a little stressful as the deadline loomed.

I often confess to be the messiest printer in the world so the production of a full print run of up to fifty prints in immaculate condition was challenging but also a great lesson.

Q: What other projects are you working on?

DM: I am currently completing work for a solo exhibition in September at Handmark Gallery in Evandale, Tasmania, called Elemental. The work is quite experimental in that I have placed multiple steel etching plates into the environment to be naturally etched by the four elements over a period of four-five months. This means I had plates hanging in trees (air), in saltwater and fresh water and also buried in the earth, compost and farmland. I also used fire on several plates for imagery based around that fourth element. This also means that many of the prints will be unique states as some of the plates have proven to be very fragile after five months in the elements.

I am participating in a group show called Vanishing Point in October in Hobart, which is another science/arts collaboration dealing with micro-plastics in the marine environment. This will also involve some awareness education programs being made available to schools during the course of the exhibition.

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

 

 

Jason Jegels: PCA ‘Student Showcase’

Jason Jegels: Smack 2, 2017 screenprint, edition of 5, 61 x 44.5 cm
Below: now and then: 50 Years of the PCA Print Commission at Collins Place Gallery.
Artist Jason Jegels, studying visual arts at Monash University, talks about his work in the ‘Student Showcase’ component of the new exhibition now and then: 50 years of the PCA Print Commission. The exhibition  includes work for the PCA Print Commission 2017, with an accompanying exhibition of past PCA Print Commissions. The dedicated ‘Student Showcase’ features prints selected from eight leading tertiary institutions.
Imprint: What are some of the foundation ideas that contribute to your work in general?
JJ: In general, I working with social, political and ideological themes in my image-making practice. The way that people interact with ideas is very insightful and I enjoy understanding the way things work and exist in the world through my practice.
I see myself as someone who makes images as my practice, and a lot of the time the influences and muse for the images I create come from the topical and from pop-culture. However, the way I refine my images is through research. This research delves into the historical, theoretical and the anecdotal.
Imprint: Can you tell us something about the work in the exhibition and why/how you made it?
JJ: The work in the show is an exploration of the intersection of beauty and violence. Often the things we experience or are witness to are not black and white, but they exist in a state of flux. The image of the poppy is used as an icon for war, the flower is beautiful and its products are intoxicating. The faceted identity of this flower embodies the way that life is experienced and the way experience may be interpreted. I wanted to reproduce the beauty of the flower and invoke in the viewer their ideas of the how the poppy is beautiful or painful.
Imprint: What do you like about group shows?
JJ: It is a cliche to say that art is not made in a vacuum, however, the group show is a place where ideas, skill and technique are put in context, contrast and compliment to the work of others engaged in the making process. I believe that the end point of a work of art should always be in front of the eyes of the audience and the group show allows the audience’s eyes to be educated as to what other contemporary artists have to offer, as they view your work.
Imprint: What is especially appealing about printmaking to you?
JJ: Printmaking is appealing to me because it has a particular language and context that I enjoy interacting with. The history of information distribution and its ties to many forms of resistance makes the language of printmaking a very rich context to work within. Furthermore, the practice and process of making a print is an important part of how I labour over the analysis and refining process of what I produce and send out to the world. I feel accountable for the things I say with my work and printmaking’s process allows me the time to work with an image until I feel confident in its meaning and its potential reactions.  – Andrew Stephens

now and then, 50 Years of the PCA Print Commission is at Collins Place Gallery, Shop 19, Collins Place (near entrance to Sofitel), 45 Collins Street Melbourne, until 18 August.

The exhibition is a fundraiser for the organisation and all the works (except for early rare archive impressions) will be available for sale. The Print Commission 2017 will be available to order from 8 August.

Wimble’s Wayzgoose Armidale

Market day at the Wayzgoose; Clint Harvey and the Wimble Albion; David Frazer giving an artist talk.

Helen Cole experiences the joy of the Wimble’s Wayzgoose.

During the early days of letterpress printing it was traditional for master printers to reward their workers with a picnic known as a Wayzgoose to celebrate the end of summer and a return to working by candlelight. It was traditionally held on St Bartholomew’s day (24 August). The resurgence of letterpress printing has seen the return of the Wayzgoose, and in the USA they now often include the printing of a huge block with the aid of a steamroller.

The New England Regional Art Museum’s (NERAM) Wimble’s Wayzgoose was so-named because NERAM’s Museum of Printing is based around the collection of machinery and equipment of F.T. Wimble & Co., acquired in 1998. The collection can facilitate printing in a variety of ways. In addition to fourteen presses, a linotype machine, type cases with wood and metal type, composing sticks, furniture, casting boxes and guillotines, it includes a large number of typewriters, duplicating machines and a library of over 1000 volumes.

The long weekend (28-30 April) event began with an afternoon of talks about letterpress and related topics: printmaking, design and typography; the past, present and future of print. Helen Cole spoke on the use of text in artists’ books with particular reference to the letterpress work of English printer Ken Campbell and Katoomba’s Wayzgoose Press. Ross Burnett kindly lent from his Uralla bookshop several Wayzgoose Press books including Dada: Kampfen um Leben und Tod: a prose poem by Jas H. Duke, The terrific days of summer by Ken Bolton and Ockers: a poem by ∏O. These allowed those present to see up-close the phenomenal perfection of both book design and the printer’s art achieved by this press. Dr Benjamin Thorn, whose book Keep the Presses Running was launched during the weekend, discussed the history and prevalence of newspapers in regional NSW and Victoria. At one stage he performed something akin to ‘I’ve been everywhere man’ using the names of small towns publishing newspapers. The University of New England (UNE) Rare Book Collection was discussed and displayed by Ian Stephenson, UNE curator. Books shown included the remarkable Aurora Australis, the first book printed in Antarctica, illustrated with etchings and lithographs and with text printed letterpress. Clint Harvey, letterpress enthusiast and designer from The Bacon Factory in Brisbane shared his latest research on F.T. Wimble, Australia’s first ink manufacturer. Cinematographer, designer and distiller at Dobson’s Distillery near Armidale, Stephen Dobson expanded on his design vision for the Distillery’s print and online presence. Wayne Thompson, type designer from Australian Type Foundry in Newcastle gave a fascinating introduction to the differences between designing type for print and digital uses.

Over the weekend local artists took advantage of workshops offered by visiting teachers: David Frazer in wood engraving and Adele Outteridge in bookbinding. A screen printing workshop was presented by Joanna Kambourian and Darren Bryant from Ms Brown’s Lounge in Lismore.  Letterpress printing demonstrations allowed visitors to use the type and equipment from the F.T. Wimble Collection with Clint Harvey. The Black Gully Printmakers who work out of the Packsaddle Studio on the lower level of NERAM celebrated the arrival of their new etching press just in time for the Wayzgoose. They presented a pop-up exhibition of works created using the F.T. Wimble collection. On display in the Print Room Gallery was the New impressions exhibition of letterpress printing from the Hamilton Wood Type and Print Museum in Wisconsin.

The last day of the weekend was the picnic proper, with artist talks by local and visiting printmakers, a printmakers’ market and the apogee of the Wayzgoose – the printing of the 1.2 x 2 metre Thunderbolt woodblock designed by Okara Harvey and carved by Mark Pai. No steamroller being available, it was necessary to make do with a lawn roller. It gave a more regional Australian flavour. It was a community event with many people helping to ink the block, and when the lawn roller failed to make a strong enough impression, returning with spoons and barens to rub the back of the print. Four copies were taken before enthusiasm waned. A final impression was taken by the helpers dancing on the block; not the best print, though perhaps the one with the most spirit.

As the first of a planned annual series the 2017 Wimble’s Wayzgoose augers well for the next event, being informative, creative and convivial. Put it in your diary for 2018!

Helen Cole

Gallery Thebarton: ‘Monumental’

Works from Monumental.
Above: Joshua Searson
Right: Andrea Pryzgonski, LifeSeems
Below: Margie Sheppard,  Monument 1
Bottom right: Christobel Kelly, One Perfect Day
Far Bottom right: Sandra Starkey Simon, KentState2

Jack Callil finds out about the exhibition Monumental, part of the South Australian Living Arts Festival (SALA)

The monumental is hard to describe. It’s a duplicitous feeling, one sown into the great pits and peaks of everyday existence. It could be the resonance of a child birth, the death of a friend, or being a half-litre deep into a Neapolitan tub after sudden heartbreak. In attempt to encapsulate this enigma, West Gallery Thebarton is hosting Monumental, an exhibition part of this year’s South Australian Living Arts Festival (SALA).

The anniversary exhibition features ten eminent South Australian artists, each offering an interpretation of the monumental. Gallery Director Margie Sheppard says the monumental to her was about the vastness of life. “Lift is monumental at times, from the vastness of nature to overwhelming life events. I chose this exhibition theme to explore how artists encapsulate the enormity of life and nature.”

Some artists explore connotations to size, reflecting that which is overwhelming in magnitude – while others look at explosive forces, both in nature and in people. For certain artists in particular, there were real life events to base their work on. Joshua Searson, who just celebrated the birth of one of his children, decided to signify the significance with a large quilt crafted from painted and screen-printed panels. “Bringing another human life into this world is a monumental occasion,” he says, “[and] as I pull the blankets up at night, I lie awake questioning how comfortable we really are.”

For Olga Sankey, the monumental speaks of a looming feeling which is simultaneously awe-inspiring and terrifying. “My works allude to pending dangers,” she says, which you can sense looking upon her triptych Leviathan. With a stippled grey skin bearing scar-like hints of blue underneath, there’s a remnant feeling of something foreboding beneath the surface.

With a similar abstractionist approach, Suzie Lockery offered an impressionist interpretation in her series Stratified Conditions of Possibility. With a light-hearted, warm aesthetic, her four-part work consisting of block shapes of pinks, greens and blues. She says they were created by “applying multiple layers of paint and screen-print over time” to form a “spatial dialogue, each layer revealing potential for subsequent outcomes.”

The exhibition is celebrating West Gallery Thebarton’s first year, which has – according to Sheppard – been “monumental itself!”. Monumental joins six other exhibitions shown since opening, starring over 26 artists from South Australia and interstate, showcasing printmaking, painting, sculpture, glass work, photography, road signs – all combining to make a rich and exciting first year. “I am extremely grateful to the artists, visitors and everyone who have helped to make the first year such a success,” Sheppard says, “our second year will continue to surprise and break new ground.”

Monumental is at West Gallery Thebarton in Thebarton, Adelaide (19 June-26 August). It features the work of Silvana Angelakis, Aleksandra Antic, Christobel Kelly, Suzie Lockery, Lloma Mackenzie, Andrea Przygonski, Olga Sankey, Joshua Searson, Sandra Starkey Simon, Margie Sheppard and Joel Gailer.

Clare Jackson: ‘This is not a place’

From top,works by Clare Jackson:
This is not a place, 2017, aquatint etching from two plates on BFK, 40.5 x 38.5 cm (11 x 15 cm – plate mark) 3/8
Move dust, 2017, aquatint etching from two plates on BFK, 40.5 x 38.5 cm (7 x11 cm – plate mark) 2/8
I saw it different, I must admit, (from series After landing) 2017, aquatint etching from two plates on BFK 49 x 38.5 cm (14 x 29.5 cm – plate mark) 1/8

Logan Ramsay speaks with Clare Jackson about her new show at Megalo Print Studio and Gallery in Canberra.

 Imprint: What draws you to etching as a technique?

CJ: I like the discovery process of intaglio; the fact that you never know exactly what your print is going to look like. While there are aspects of the medium that you can predict and control, there is always an element of the unknown. I feel a mixture of excitement and nerves when I’m about to pull the first proof from a new plate, because there’s a chance you’re going to be disappointed by what you see, but it’s worth it for those times you’re happy with the result. And if not, it means you keep searching for ways to make it work.

Imprint: How does time and memory come together in your work?

CJ: As my work has developed, I’ve realised that the idea of history has superseded that of memory. I am intrigued by the involuntary recollections that come unbidden to our minds when triggered by an aspect of our surroundings, yet my etchings aren’t illustrative of these recollections. Rather, each print forms part of an archive; I cannot communicate exactly what was seen or felt in a specific place but I can leave a trace, a memento of what transpired.

The nature of etching as a medium, means that there is always going to be a history held in the surface of the plate. I spend so much time working with the plates in the lead up to printing, from drawing on them in various locations, to taking them through technical stages in the studio, I see the act of taking a print as preserving this history in a single object.

Imprint: Where do you draw inspiration for your landscapes?

CJ: The experience of unfamiliar locations has become integral to the way I make work. I’ve been lucky enough to have undertaken artist residencies in varied and unique places, such as the Estonian Printing Museum in Tartu, Estonia, and Wollemi National Park and Woy Woy Bay in NSW, so my work depends on the location I’m in at any given time. Two of my recent series ‘Blue nights’ and ‘This is not a place’ contain a number of recurring visual elements that reflect those I’m attracted to in certain landscapes; details of coastal suburbia at night, Australian mid century architecture, the juxtaposition of tropical plant life with architectural details, and the way light interacts with all of these elements.

 

More recently I’ve started working on a series of etchings, ‘After landing’, which draws inspiration from photographic documentation of space capsules returning to earth, and personal accounts of those who have experienced orbital or suborbital space travel. Although this series is also framed around unfamiliar locations, this time I have not physically visited them. These works depict parachutes and the clouds of dust that erupt as they connect with the earth, signalling the return of a space capsule, and the end of a journey for the individuals inside.

 Imprint: Can you take us through your approach to intaglio/aquatint?

CJ: I took part in an excellent colour etching workshop with Melbourne-based artist, Kyoko Imazu, last year at Megalo Print Studio and Gallery, which really influenced the way I approach intaglio and think about colour. For me the process consists of different stages and always begins with drawing, whether it be on paper first or directly onto the copper plate. I enjoy this part of the process because I can do it anywhere, as I usually take plates with me to various locations and draw on site. Then I work in the etching studio, taking the plates through multiple stages of aquatint to build up areas of tone that will eventually work together in multi plate prints. Working with etching in this way means that the drawing and technical processes can sometimes be disconnected from one another; a lot of time might elapse after making the initial drawing. So when it eventually comes to proofing, the print itself serves as a reminder of where I was, and what I was thinking in that drawing moment.

Imprint: How do you build narratives into your prints?

CJ: The titles I choose for my etchings are often extracted or influenced by something I’m reading at the time, and a narrative builds around my responses. For my series ‘Blue nights’ (after Joan Didion’s memoir of the same name), I sought to explore the twilight hours during my artist residency in Woy Woy Bay. Whilst walking the suburbs at night, I made drawings onto copper plates, hoping to gather the fleeting and mundane curiosities of the period where dusk transitions to nightfall – the gradual retreat of people into homes, trees gathering darkness to their leaves, and the glow from windows appearing amongst them. The dying of summer marks the end of the blue nights, and brings forth a sense of loss – these etchings are a personal elegy to the experience of being alone with one’s perception.

Clare Jackson’s This Is Not a Place is at Megalo Print Studio and Gallery until 22 July.

 

Printmakers Association of Western Australia: ‘Hand Print’

Works from ‘Hand Print’: Wineglass Refractions (above); Art Deco Interior (right) and The Urban Jungle (below).

Elizabeth Morrison, president of the Printmakers Association of Western Australia, discusses the exhibition Hand Print, the 2017 members’ exhibition.

Imprint: What is the background to Hand Print and what are its aims?

EM: We chose to call it Hand Print this year to reflect our stated goal of promoting traditional print techniques while also embracing the new. All prints in our exhibitions must have an element of hand technique in them.

Our annual members’ exhibition is an opportunity for our members with all levels of experience to show their work in a professional setting. Less experienced members learn from the more experienced ones about framing, curating and how to manage an exhibition. We also aim to promote printmaking in WA to the widest possible audience. There were 69 entries from 28 printmakers. There will be collographs, monoprints, lino cuts, collaged works, mixed media to name a few techniques that will be represented.
Imprint: What are you thoughts about the WA printmaking scene – it seems to be very strong and cohesive?
EM: Considering WA is such a vast state with printmaking groups scattered across is we work together very well to assist and promote each other and to have our work recognised outside of the state and internationally.
Laura A. Taylor, WA Print Council of Australia, representative is doing a fabulous job of putting WA ‘On the Map’ as the forthcoming exhibition is called. There seems to be quite a resurgence of interest in the printmaking.
Imprint: What are the benefits to members belonging to organisations such as PAWA and the Print Council of Australia?
EM: Being a member of PAWA give our members access to our press and studio. We hold an annual members exhibition an host the bi annual Contemporary Print Media Awards. PAWA puts out a bi-monthly newsletter to which all members are invited to contribute.
PAWA also holds a monthly skill share session for members at our Tresillian Art Centre studio.We share lunch, print making ideas, learn new skills and practise new techniques. It is a social and learning occasion where the joy of collaborating in print can be experienced. We also hold regular workshops to provide tutoring in a variety of print techniques.
Sharing the vast experience and ability of our memberships is an important way to help printmaking in WA to continue to flourish. Being a member of the Print Council is invaluable in keeping us here in the west up to date with current nation wide news and opportunities for printmakers who can feel isolated by the distance of our state.
Hand Print is at Atwell Gallery, 586 Canning Highway, Alfred Cove, WA, until 23 July