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