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