Scratch & Pierce

Mei Sheong Wong guides us through Scratch & Pierce, an exhibition of prints and plates by contemporary South Australian artists exploring the nexus between printmaking and scratched and pierced surfaces. Curated by PCA Committee Members Simone Tippett, founder of Union Street Printmakers, and Vicki Reynolds, Head of Printmaking at AC Arts.

Top: Sandra Starkey Simon, 28 Korana St (detail), 2015, drypoint with chine colle. L-R: Jane DisherHearts for Catholic Girls III, IV and V, 2016,  scraper board.

Like previous South Australian grassroots shows such as Low-Brow and Inked, this marvellous collection Scratch & Pierce has mushroomed from an underground mycelium of devoted printmakers. The elegant venue forms a warren of discovery, showcasing forty-one items by thirty-one South Australian artists.

Inside, John Blines’ uncompromising oeuvre is deliberately confrontational with its accusatory text and severely obliterating process, while bold design and confident process manifest in Simone Tippett’s intaglio collagraph Heartlands. Religious relics inspire Jane Disher’s concentrated scraper-board images in Hearts for Catholic Girls. Primitivist, mask-like forms inform Olga Sankey‘s Spoils and, alongside this, metal ‘shields’ with anachronistic inscriptions are depicted in her work Trophies.

Olga Sankey, Trophies, 2016, etched, inked and mounted zinc plate.

Gloves literally come off in the next chamber. Lorelei Medcalf’s grisly home-made tools accentuate the scratchy physicality of her gorgeous etching Hand Work. Geoff Counsell employs inescapably sinister material in Barbed Shadows, and with a material casting process Stephanie Radok explores the bookish interface between positive and negative in Social Policies for Old Age.

Stephanie Radok, Social Policies for Old Age, 2016, mixed media.

Petra Dolezalova Troyn fabricates intricate, cast resin prints, exposed for scrutiny with medical precision. In the Brevity triptych, Kate Bohunnis provides a subtle interplay of colours, textures and shapes, screenprinted on plywood; while Sarah Thame’s meticulous engraving Untitled scintillates with swirling patterns.

Sarah Thame, Untitled, 2016, engraving; Untitled, 2016, engraved plate.

The Landscape series of cyanotypes by Lauren Sutter is derived from rearranged, fragmented negatives, while Joshua Searson’s pop-inspired combination print City Breathing merges layers of appropriated, eye-catching graphics. Extending the vein of Surrealist montage, Andrew Dearman’s absurdist self-portrait dioramas evince quirky materiality via the notoriously fraught process of ambrotype (wet plate photography on glass).

The pace slows with Margaret Sanders’ Landscape, stylised, perforated linocuts; and Michael James Rowland’s sublime Ghost Tree woodblock, carved from reclaimed timber, is imbued with wabi-sabi aesthetic.

Michael James Rowland, Ghost Tree, 2016, woodcut print and woodblock.

Reminiscent of Chagall’s iconic floating figures, Sandra Starkey Simon’s 28 Korana Street, a delicate dry-point on chine collé, offers an intimate vignette. Etched metal breastplates underpin Sonya Hender’s expressive shift into moody, emblematic prints. And Janet Neilson embraces the unforeseen in A Silverfish Perhaps?, her combination print on ‘insect-damaged’ paper.

In the multi-media work Resurface, Georgina Willoughby experiments with unconventional composition and earthy colours, while Liz Butler’s Margins of Place reveals an on-going fascination with grungy material landscapes of rusted steel plates. Jake Holmes highlights humble, scuffed streetscapes in his frottage-inspired Urban Relief monoprint.

Unique states of Palenque, Hanah Williams’ striking vertical etchings, convey intense materiality. While Vicki Reynolds series Run Away evokes the poignant vulnerability of endangered fauna. The works embody an Arte Povera aesthetic: precise mark-making with simple materials – in this case, salvaged/repurposed polystyrene plates (souvenired during a recent Vicarious Press residency in Fabriano, Italy).

Larkworthy’s lithograph Imagined Landscape expresses graphic clarity and lilting modulation. While a penchant for the whimsical emerges in Jamie Alexander’s carefully crafted compositions Creature with 3 Stars and Creature Study for Abandoning. Barbara Coddington’s monoprint Monsters and Robots reveals a Surrealist impulse, with disrupted text snippets amidst haptic scissor shapes, interspersed with disconcerting red embroidery.

Chris de Rosa, Beatrice, 2015, digital inkjet print, etching and pigment stain on perforated magnani paper.

Dark, unsettling silhouettes contradict deceptively soothing hues in Christobel Kelly’s diptych monotype Ravensmutter. Aleksandra Antic’s multi-media installation Flatness Endless, reminiscent of Sally Smart’s extensive stencil/print/wall compositions, skilfully integrates material multiplicity with tonal interplay. In Lepidoptera Victoriana and accompanying hand-crafted brooches, Sue Garrard shifts gleefully between imagery, process, dimensions and reclaimed materials.

Suzie Lockery’s subtle variations in pattern and process shape the composition of Trajectories 1 and glorious hues and complex organic forms surge forth in Beatrice, Chris de Rosa’s resplendent combination print.

This multifarious exhibition Scratch & Pierce is a great opportunity to tap into the buzzing network of South Australia’s vibrant print community.

Scratch and Pierce will be on display at Gallery 1855, Tea Tree Gully, until 30 July.