Southern Highlands Print Exchange

From top:
Kathryn Orton, Changing Places, Collagraph with chine colle.
Lucia Parella, Flee, (2014), woodblock.
Fan Ifould, Domestic Goddess, etching and chine colle.

Griffith Regional Art Gallery coordinator Raymond Wholohan celebrates the Southern Highland Printmakers’ Exchange exhibition.


Imprint: What is the origin of the printmaking exchange and how does it work?

Raymond Wholohan: The Southern Highlands Printmakers (SHP) are based in the Southend Highlands of NSW, centred around the towns of Mittagong and Bowral. The group was formed in 1993 to foster printmaking in the area and since its inception has exhibited regularly developing a particularly effective working relationship with the Sturt Gallery, part of the Sturt Australian Contemporary Craft and Design Centre in Mittagong.

They currently have 28 exhibiting members and try to maintain membership at around this number. Over the years, the group has built an enviable reputation for quality and innovation with members exhibiting widely in Australia and internationally. Many also teach printmaking in tertiary fine art courses and adult education programs.

Imprint: What are some of the mutual benefits for printmakers working in the exchange?

Raymond Wholohan: Unlike other established printmaking groups, the SHP does not have a physical base nor does it offer workshops on a regular basis. Rather the focus is on fostering opportunities for practicing artists for whom printmaking is important part of their work. The emphasis in on mutual support for each other’s professional practice, organising exhibitions of members’ work and developing links to other printmaking groups both in Australia and internationally.

In 2009, for example, the SHP initiated an international print exchange with print groups in Queenland, Wales and Hawaii. The portfolio of prints has been exhibited in the UK and Hawaii as well as different venues in Australia and full sets of the suite are now in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, the National Museum of Wales and Rockhampton Regional Art Gallery in Queensland. This particular exchange is to celebrate the group’s 21st birthday and has been exhibited at Sturt Gallery, Mittagong, Megalo Press, Canberra and now Griffith Regional Art Gallery.

Imprint: Can you tell us how the exhibition looks at Griffith Regional Art Gallery?

Raymond Wholohan: The works are all so diverse, so the SHP have utilised uniformity to bring cohesion to the visually rich exhibition. The vast majority of artists have a suite of three prints on similar sized paper, which are installed in vertically hung columns in identical frames throughout the exhibition. So the exhibition maintains the integrity of each artist’s imagery, but curatorially it’s neat little package.

Imprint: Are there any working methods or processes that are of particular interest in the exchange?

Raymond Wholohan: The exhibition encompasses all printmaking methods and techniques such as drypoint, wood- and linocuts, lithography, collagraph, digital printmaking, monotype, etching, screenprinting and multi-plate techniques. The whole exhibition is a 101 course in printmaking methods and techniques.

Imprint: Do you see any common threads emerging in terms of ideas and content in the prints entered?

Raymond Wholohan: As you can imagine the themes, narratives and preoccupations of the artworks and artists are as diverse as the printmaking techniques used to realise them. But if there is one thread that is more represented than another, it’s engagement with the natural world. – Andrew Stephens

Southern Highland Printmaking: Exchange is at Griffith Regional Art Gallery until 11 June