The Audrey MacDonald Project

Above: John Robinson, Moroccan Top, 2018, lithograph/linocut, edition 1/8, 32 x 42 cm
Right: Gabrielle Falconer, 2018, The Bus Trip to Moscow, linocut, edition 1/6, 61 x 61 cm
Below: Jenny Dean, 2018, They Burn Thistles I & II (detail), collagraph & watercolour, 91 x 36cm each
Bottom: Jan Hogan, Audrey Macdonald’s Turkish Suite (detail), 2018, suite of 14 collages; lithographic print on Japanese paper on European rag paper in solander box, 15 cm x 21.5 cm each, solander box 17 x 25 x 4 cm

Artists involved with the Audrey MacDonald Project in Tasmania discuss their responses to a chance find in a second-hand store.

Imprint: How did your involvement with the Audrey Mac Project come about, and what is the premise for the exhibition?

 A few years back John Robinson bought a second-hand book and found three items among the pages. An address for Audrey MacDonald typed onto a piece of brown paper, a handwritten list of clothing and travel items and a luggage label from the ‘Hotel Rossiya’ that dates somewhere from the 1950s to 1970s. He often thought that it would be interesting to have different people interpret what all of these things could be. After encouragement from a few friends the ‘Audrey Mac Project’ became reality. The exhibition opened with 21 artists represented on at the Schoolhouse Gallery, Rosny Hill Rd, Rosny, Tasmania and continues to 4 February.

 Imprint: What are some of the foundation ideas for the work in the exhibition, and what are visitors likely to experience?

There are a few recurring ideas that appear in the work. Travel, particularly to Russia during the 1960s and 70s. Gaby Falconer has used her Mother’s trip on a Contiki tour to Moscow in 1968 as the basis of her Slavic folk style linocut.  The handwritten list is comprehensive in its description of clothing, making note of the colours and brands of various items. One of the items on the list is a Bangkok orange kaftan, which meant there was an orange colour to much of the work. John Robinson has used travel by train from Edinburgh to Moscow then return to Scotland as the basis for his Lithographs with linocuts of clothing in the middle. Burning thistles and the idea of a Turkish rebel reflect the cover from the book. Jenny Dean has developed her interest in ancestors invading the Tasmanian land with no understanding of how to care for it. Her collagraph is a poignant image of spreading thistles across a hill.

Audrey MacDonald the person and where she lived in Edinburgh is also present in many works. Audrey was still living at the found address when she celebrated her 100th birthday in 2013. Jan Hogan has assumed the persona of Audrey as an artist who studied in Edinburgh in the 1930s and travelled to Turkey in the 1960s. Gaining rare access to Persian miniatures from which a suite of Lithographs has been printed.

Imprint: How was the work developed and what were some of the challenges involved?

Much of the work has evolved from the research that artists have made on the 1960s and 1970s and then incorporated links to personal stories. Other artists have used imagery that comes directly from the information provided. The works include drawings, linocut, collagraph, collage, screenprint on fabric, lithography, digital prints, photography and a movie.

One of the challenges has been to make work that can fit in a suitcase, so that it can be transported to Wharepuke Gallery, Kerikeri, New Zealand where it will be exhibited later this year. This has meant much of the work is pinned and not framed.

Imprint: What future projects are you working on?

John, Gaby and Jenny are all interested in pursuing the themes that they have been working on. John will continue exploring new ways of how the found items relate to each other. Gaby will keep working on projects that connect with her mother’s past. Jenny wants to acknowledge the injustices perpetuated by invaders including her ancestors.

Many of the other artists have expressed interest in reworking the prints that they have made for this exhibition and perhaps presenting a new state or a new work in the New Zealand exhibition. There may be the possibility for a print exchange with some of the international participants and print studios’ that they are associated with.  There is much life left in this project.

John Robinson is the director of an independent printmaking studio in Lindisfarne, where printmaking classes and open studio sessions are regularly held.

Jenny Dean and Gabrielle Falconer are both graduates of UTAS and are the proud owners of an Enjay press. They have held regular exhibitions together.

Jan Hogan is the head of printmaking, School of Creative Arts, UTAS.