‘In My Backyard’ at Castlemaine Press

From top:
 Rhyll Plant, Lookin in at you lookin at me, 2017, hand-coloured linocut, 12 x 2 cm
 Patsy Bush, Backyard Bird, four-coloured lithograph, 12 x 12cm
 Janet Neilsen, Backyard Bounty, 2017, collagraph and linocut, 12 x 12 cm
Castlemaine Press has launched its first print exchange. Barbara Semler talks about the ambitions and the theme of “in my backyard”.

IMPRINT: What is the history of this print exchange and how did it come about?

BS: Castlemaine Press Inc. is an artist-run not for profit printmaking organisation, with a foundation of 60-plus members. We run a fully equipped community access print studio, located at Lot19, a wonderful arts hub in Castlemaine, Central Victoria.

We recognise that printmaking facilities are difficult to access and adequate studio space is also out of reach for many people.  Castlemaine Press seeks to make printmaking more accessible by providing facilities, along with opportunities for members to work alongside others, be supported by more experienced printmakers, gain skills, and build a sense of community and collaboration.

The print exchange idea came about when a group of Castlemaine Press members were gathered together discussing the sorts of opportunities other printmakers might enjoy.

IMPRINT: What are the benefits of this sort of exchange?

BS: The idea of a print exchange as a way of involving our members and other printmakers both in Australia and internationally feels right. Exchanges are a wonderful way for artists to share their work and to have it exhibited and up for sale. It is a delight for participants to receive prints in exchange for the prints they submit. It is also a great way of connecting artists from across the Globe, with all the potential that these connections might bring.

The project has other benefits. It will be a chance for Castlemaine Press, entirely voluntarily run, to raise revenue, to build our profile in the printmaking community, to attract new members and enthusiasts and, as an initiative that has relied on the community’s generosity, to ‘give back’. We will give 10% of the money we raise to the Mount Alexander Sustainability Group.

IMPRINT: What are some of the foundations ideas behind the concept of ‘in my backyard’?

BS: We decided on “In my backyard” as a way of exploring and celebrating our own environment. The idea of celebrating different environments around Australia and the world appealed. We also thought the concept could be explored in many ways and would resonate with lots of printmakers. Donating a percentage of revenue to a community-based environmental organisation adds another layer to the concept of “in my back yard”.

IMPRINT: How are artists responding so far to the theme?

BS: The entries that we have received so far have been from within Australia and from a variety of other countries. It is diverse range. Participants have explored the flora and fauna of the environment using a variety of printmaking techniques, and have responded to the theme from some surprising and creative angles. We can’t wait to see what arrives in our post box next!

The Castlemaine Press Print Exchange is accepting entries until 30 April. The exhibition will open at the Press on 27 May, 3, 10 and 17 June.