‘Seawards’ at Grahame Galleries + Editions, QLD

From top:
Shipwreck (after Claude), 2016, etching, edition of 20, 20x 30 cm
printed by Simon White APW
Wind over Water, 2012, linocut, woodblock
edition of 5, 65 x 100 cm
Rough Weather (after Monet), 2016, etching, edition of 20, 20x 30 cm
Bass Strait Light, 2013, linocut, woodblock, stencil, edition of 10, 90 x 60 cm

Jennifer Marshall’s new exhibition Seawards takes us headlong into the turbulent elements.

IMPRINT: What are some of the foundation ideas for Seawards, and how does it represent the development of your interests?

JM: Since 1994 , I have been making images of the sea, storm, shipwreck and so on. Initially, this related to the years that I lived in central Victoria and had a longing to return to the sea and coast. In 1994, I spent a semester teaching in the printmaking studio at UTAS, Hobart where I started to make prints and paintings about the sea. There I made a large twelve-part chiaroscuro relief print based on Titian’s great woodcut of  The Submersion of Pharaoh’s Army in the Red Sea (1514) and which is basically about a storm at sea.

This preoccupation with the sea and storm has continued in my work since moving to Tasmania in 2011.

IMPRINT: How does your work relate (or not!) to particular traditions in printmaking, both in terms of technique and content?

JM: My prints are firmly within the tradition of intaglio and relief print particularly in the ways in which plates and blocks can be worked and re-worked, sometimes over many years. Those artists, both contemporary and from the past, who have worked in this way are of ongoing interest. Last year, I spent some time in Prints and Drawings at the National Gallery of Victoria looking at Rembrandt’s intaglio prints and continue to be dazzled by their directness and power: notably state four of the Three Crosses made seven years after the first state and in which he has attacked the plate with such vigour .

Etching offers me a richness of mark-making not equalled in any other medium, the depth of tone, the possibilities afforded by erasure as well by drawing or scratching lines; from the greatest, silvery, fineness to the deep, wide fuzzy blackness of drypoint. This repertoire of mark-making is what I have tried, in part, to exploit in these small works.

As for the relief-prints, another set of mark making, cutting/drawing directly with the gouges not pre-planned beyond a rough sketch. All printed by hand, using the baren too as a way of making marks. Not flat blacks but layers of semi-transparent greys inspired by Munakata’s great woodcuts such as In Praise of the Sea and the Mountains (1958) and by the directness of his cutting and printing.

IMPRINT: Seawards is a very evocative title – can you discuss your own relationship with this subject matter?

JM: Seawards… meaning turning away from the land, particularly looking towards the sea. Seawards rather than seaward  emphasizes movement. However, it also refers to a wind blowing from the sea. As my focus in all these works is on movement of water, turbulence, weather and shifts back and forth from light to dark, Seawards seems an appropriate title for these loosely connected prints which were not conceived of as one specific group. There are three etchings which form a discrete group that I made last year as a result of an artist-in-residence project supported by Australian Print Workshop. These prints are all made after works in the collection of NGV International: two paintings by Monet and Courbet respectively and an etching of Shipwreck by Claude of 1640.

IMPRINT: Why is printmaking the best process for you to use for this work ?

JM: I am not sure that it is! However, as a painter it is helpful to make much smaller works which are largely monochromatic, or at least restricted in colour as a way of sorting out some problems. I do this also by making quite large-scale drawings in charcoal and conte.

All of which feeds into the paintings that run parallel to the prints and drawings. I see printmaking largely as a form of drawing using a variety of tools to make marks. My aim is to achieve a degree of spontaneity and directness in these prints as well as a richness of texture and depth of tone that is characteristic of the processes used.

Seawards is at Grahame Galleries  + Editions until 29 April