Negative Press: a new era

Top: Printing with Simryn Gill, Malaysia, July 2017
Right: John Spiteri, Actress & Actor, 2015, etching printed in four colours from four plates, 32 x 23.5 cm, edition of 16 + 3 APs. Published by Negative Press.


Below: John Nixon, Untitled, 2017, screenprint printed in one colour from one stencil, 79 x 63 cm, edition of 8 + 3 APs. Published by Negative Press


Bottom: Negative Press studio

Trent Walter discusses a new move for the much admired Negative Press.

Q: Negative Press has been forging a significant presence in the printmaking landscape—what is the history of this venture?

TW: I’d never thought of starting my own studio until my friend Franck Gohier planted the seed in my brain in 2006. I also spent a formative time working at STPI in Singapore in 2007–08 which made me want to continue my collaborative practice on returning to Australia. Returning home, it seemed that the job I wanted to do didn’t exist, so through necessity I started Negative Press in 2009. Since then, Negative Press has operated as a custom printing and publishing workshop. The publishing projects have included prints and artists’ books, which are both areas of great interest for me, and this is becoming the greater focus of the studio.

Q: What are the advantages and potential outcomes for the new studio space?

TW: The advantages of the new studio are many: more space to work in; a showroom to launch published works and to host occasional exhibitions; and a space to run workshops. My brother, Andrew Walter, is an award-winning architect and he has helped me design the space to remain flexible to the various endeavours that Negative Press engages in. Most importantly, the advantage has been to transfer what was a rather clandestine operation into something far more public and visible.

Q: Who are some of the artists Negative Press has been working with and what are their various areas of interest in terms of print processes?

TW: The biggest projects that have seen completion this year have been with Brent Harris, Simryn Gill and John Nixon. After making the PCA fundraiser print in 2015, Brent and I started developing a five-print series titled The Other Side that Brent launched at Tolarno Galleries recently.  These were all photopolymer gravure and screenprints. The interaction between a tonal image (photpolymer) with the flat planes of the screenprint highlight the strengths of each process.

Simryn’s project was, like our 2016 project Pressing In, concerned with relief printing. We took a full impression of a coconut palm on a farm in Malaysia near the intersection of the states of Johor Bahru and Malacca. The tree was inked with various sized brayers and printed using bone folders onto virtually indestructible washi. It was the best way we could record as much of the surface of the tree as possible.

John Nixon’s screenprints and etchings have developed over the past 18 months. We’re up to 32 etchings so far, and two screenprints. John’s interest, I believe (and this can be attributed to many artists’ engagement with printmaking) is to see how printmaking might filter the concerns of his broader practice. Specifically, the interaction of line, plane, colour, form, texture etc. as it occurs in the medium of printmaking as opposed to his other areas of practice, which include painting, collage, photography and experimental music.

Q: What projects are you envisioning for the future of Negative Press?

TW: After the studio launch and release of John Nixon and John Spiteri’s etchings and screenprints, Negative Press will be participating in the Australian Print Workshop Print Fair on 18-19 November at the APW. Concurrent to this, the focus will also be on finishing a new group of screenprints with Julia Gorman. Into the not-so-distant future, there will be new projects with Elizabeth Newman, Kathy Temin, Rose Nolan and Emily Ferretti. They are all artists I’ve worked with before and in the short history of Negative Press I’ve continued to work with a relatively small group of artists, adding one or two each year. It mirrors the activity of the studio, like a pebble dropped into the water making ripples in slowly widening circles.