Joel Wolter: PCA Print Commission 2017

Above: Joel Wolter, Celestial Lane, 2017, edition 30, 22.4 x 30 cm (image) 44 x 48 cm (paper).

Joel Wolter discusses his work selected in the 2017 PCA Print Commission.

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

JW: I have been printmaking for approximately 20 years and have worked as a printmaking technician, printer and teacher throughout that time. My interest and involvement in printmaking comes from a place of drawing and mark-making as I have always enjoyed drawing. I really see printmaking and particularly etching and drypoint as another opportunity to draw. The processes, techniques, technologies and history of printmaking also draws me to it and I really enjoy knowing that I’m basically using the same techniques and process that have existed for centuries.

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

JW: Primarily I wanted to keep the continuity going with my prints and continue exploring what I have been doing. So I guess I just applied for the PCA Print Commission and made something that I would have anyway and it’s just a bonus that the selection panel liked it enough to commission it this year. I created a couple of drawings from my own photographs in my sketchbook where I could work out the composition and settle on a view and the scale and then started working on the copper plate. I usually try to work from life as much as possible but it just seems too tricky to do in these places at times and from viewpoints such as the one in this etching.

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

JW: To me this etching continues to explore a range of ideas that I have been interested in for a long time, but it depicts the urban subject matter of Melbourne laneways that I have only been drawing for about eight years or so. I find these gritty back-spaces fascinating and they lend themselves well to the etching and drypoint mediums on a range of levels. I see relationships between the marks, gestures and recordings that are found in these spaces and the drawing marks that are created on the etching plate. These spaces and subject matter are a good platform to explore broader ideas such as opposing forces, transience, equality and existential concepts both through the compositional elements and the textual components.

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

JW: This work is one of several etchings that I have created over the last decade that depicts Melbourne laneways and buildings and it continues to explore similar concepts in the etching as well. Technically through the use of intaglio methods and aesthetically through the use of simple black ink, a bit of plate tone and the size of the etching, relationships are there as well.

Q: What were some of the technical challenges involved?

JW: There’s always the challenge of making the perspective work and look believable in these laneway prints as well challenges with the text and the reversing of things in the drawing stage. The printing is also challenging because it is quite a large edition size with a relatively tight timeline to complete and I also like to use plate tone and there is a bit of tricky wiping and highlighting in the print.

Q: What other projects are you working on?

JW: I have a few projects on the go at the moment. I am working on a few new large prints that will be launched down at the Queenscliff Gallery & Workshop in December and then hopefully in Melbourne, a Rona Green folio swap and exhibition, I am doing some custom edition printing for an artist and of course completing the edition of prints for the PCA Commission, so there’s plenty of printing to be done.

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