Libris Awards: Australian Artists’ Book Prize, 2018 – Artspace Mackay

Above: Clyde McGill, Witness, 2016, etching, letterpress, gold leaf, ink and graphite on BFK 270gsm, edition 3/6, 39 x 46 x 3 cm. Right: Michelle Vine, Contested Biography I (quadrat), 2017, cyanotype on altered book, stitched, 138 x 216 cm. Below: Judges Helen Cole and Roger Butler. Bottom: Jamian Stayt, Tagged, 2018, photography, vintage library card, cardboard and cloth on paper, 111 x 68 cm. Far bottom: Jenna Lee,  A plant in the wrong place, 2016, copper plate etching, image transfer, 16.5 x 13 cm. Photography: Jim Cullen.

Doug Spowart reports on the 2018 Libris Awards: Australian Artists’ Book Prize, held at Artspace Mackay.

In the judge’s opening remarks of the 2018 Libris Awards, judge Roger Butler[i] described the judging process that he and fellow judge Helen Cole[ii] encountered as ‘demanding and challenging’. The preceding month the two judges individually reviewed the 143 entrant’s statements and the accompanying images of the books. After consultation this yielded the selection of 74 finalists that were then judged in the physical exhibition space of Artspace Mackay.

Now in its sixth iteration, the Libris Awards: Australian Artists’ Book Prize gathers biennially the largest selection of contemporary artist books in Australia. The judges concurred that they found their encounter with the physical books at Artspace as: ‘Immensely enjoyable for both of us … it’s just wonderful to come here and see so many wonderful things that we did not know about, and artists we didn’t know about as well…’

Clyde McGill won the $7000 Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal National Artists’ Book Award. ‘Winning this award is an extraordinary thing,’ he said on winning. ‘Working as an artist is extraordinary fun, how lucky am I?’ McGill was the winner of the first Libris Award in 2006. McGill’s work, which includes a performance video, documented his response to the destruction of ancient Aboriginal petroglyphs at Murujuga on the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia.

The Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal National Altered Book Award of $3000 went to Michelle Vine’s Contested biography 1 (quadrat).

The work consists of a contested German biography that had been disbound and re-assembled as a flat patchwork of sewn pages over-printed in cyanotype with images of birds and flora.

The $2500 Mackay Regional Council Regional Artists’ Book Award went to Jamian Stayt for his book Tagged. Jamian’s book deals with the question of how today with digital technology, everything, including people, is classified and invites the reader to redefine themselves.

The Artspace Mackay Foundation Tertiary Artists’ Book Award of $2000 was won by Jenna Lee for her work A plant in the wrong place, a boxed set of etchings that comment on and compare the way both botanists and typographers rely on the concepts of ‘type’ specimens.

The Libris Awards will be on show until August 19 and will inspire and inform local artists of the diversity of the artist book discipline. And there can be no doubt that this award will attract visitors to Mackay to see the assembled books. A comprehensive illustrated catalogue and other Libris Awards information can be accessed here:

http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/whats_on/libris_awards

 

[i] Roger Butler AM is Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at the National Gallery of Australia. An expert in his field, Butler has written widely, curated and lectured on Australian prints and their place in the Asia/ Pacific region. In 2011 Butler was appointed a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for services to the visual arts.

[ii] Helen Cole, former Coordinator of the Australian Library of Art, was the second guest judge for the 2018 Libris Awards. With a career spanning over 30 years, Cole is an expert in the field of rare and artists’ books. 

Rachael Lee: The Biophilia Connection

Above: Rachael Lee, Beyond the Elements Series, 2016-2018, Multi-plate collagraphs, stencils, linocut, pencil, wax pastel, varnish on Somerset mounted on aluminium composite panels, 11.85m x 2.1m. Photography Carl Warner 
Right: Rachael Lee, Lost, 2017, Charcoal, pigmented ink and pencil on Tiepolo watercolour paper, 105 x 78cm paper size. Photography Carl Warner. 
Below left: Rachael Lee, Chrysalis no.6, 2017, Collagraph, stencils and linocut on Somerset, piercings, LED, fixings, varnish, 30 x 22 x 87cm. Photography Louis Lim. 
Below right: Rachael Lee, Deep, 2018, Collagraph embossing, stencils, collage, mylar, metallic thread, piercings, varnish on Somerset mounted on 19mm deep cradle board, 30.5 x 22.9cm. Photography Rachael Lee 
Bottom: Rachael Lee stencilling at Impress Printmakers Studio and Gallery, Brisbane. Photography Kay Watanabe

The Biophilia Connection

By Jay Dee Dearness

Biophilia, the hypothesis that proposes that humans possess inherent tendencies to seek out connections with nature and other forms of life was first popularised by Edward O. Wilson (an entomologist) in his 1984 book of the same name1.  It is this kind of nature based connection which can be seen so strongly running as an evolutionary process through Rachael Lee’s work.  An embedded and enduring connection to nature and her place within it – her local environs of Logan, Queensland.

Rachael is a self-confessed collector of the debris from nature’s floor.  Her early artistic memories include affixing these found objects to walls in her home – a soothing act of re-connecting the artist to nature and a literal attempt to pour nature back into her built environment.  These biophilic connections have coursed through her work since 1993 and run in tandem with clear growing evidence supporting the restorative qualities of biophilic attributes for the purposes of promoting recovery of stress and mental fatigue2.  It is little wonder then that her work has been collected by both the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast University Hospitals.  Rachael now limits her own collecting to two glass terrariums full to the brim with these found objects in the leafy surrounds of her studio nestled amongst the trees.  These pieces of soft bark, seed pods and leaves act as triggers for moments of transportation back to nature.  The artist takes any opportunity she can to continually immerse herself in green spaces such as Springwood Conservation Park and Underwood Park; these forming the visual inspiration behind this latest series of work.

Art is therefore a meditative therapy for Rachael.  The act of viewing and interpreting nature provides her with calm and focus in other areas of her life.  This was of vital importance over the last two years as this exhibition evolved.  January 2016 marked the start of this project and saw Rachael undergo a Regional Arts Development Fund supported two week residency at Megalo Print Studio and Gallery in Canberra and a mentorship by esteemed artist and printmaker G.W.Bot.  Bot is a fellow collector and the time spent with her reminded Rachael of the need to be mindful and focus, that slow absorption was required for a successful outcome.  Printmaking is ideal for this; it is the art of the obscure (much like those found objects) – rewarding those who take the time for closer inspection.

The residency also allowed the artist to formalise a layering process which was revisited from work begun in 2009 linking reuse and recycling in a move towards abstraction.  Rachael was not yet a printmaker but was already attempting to develop a layering technique that reflected this biophilic state of being and an expedient alternative to hand drawing.  As a result, all except five of the works shown in this exhibition are Collagraphs.  A fine art print made from collaged materials glued down to printing plates which have then been inked and run through a printing press in various ways, overlapped with stencils and linocuts.  Collagraphs are therefore built up in layers, much like the leafy floor of a bushwalk – a soft layering up of organic matter.  Like this organic matter, many of the pieces (Collagraphs being experimental in nature), have been repositioned and repurposed into the ecosystem of Rachael’s work to fit the shape of her latest solo exhibition which marks her most unified work to date in terms of technique, output and connotations.

An Arts Queensland grant permitted the artist additional time to devote to her practice and access to facilities at Impress Printmakers Studio and Gallery, Brisbane from 2016 through 2017.  This provided her with the resources necessary to produce the leading images of this exhibition, the Beyond the Elements Series.  This series responds to Springwood Conservation Park in a way that breaks free of the traditional presentation and representation of nature.  Every level of nature itself is explored in progression like a walk on a stone path from the earth to the trees, then on to water, the air, and back to aether.  Much of the work that underpins biophilia comes from environmental psychology and the Attention Restoration Theory which is based on two main areas of study.  The first area of study is Structural Developmental Theory of which Peter Kahn is the main scholar3. He closely observes cultural and biophilic relationships for health and well-being.  The artist experienced this effect first hand from 2016 at the start of the project when a series of medical issues affected her physical well-being.  The time spent in this serene natural environment, for the artist, was like stepping back in time to a peaceful existence.  The act of making based from this contact with nature provided her with a much needed calming and restorative effect.

Happy accidents were also an outcome of making whilst recovering from the various procedures and therapies.  An evolutionary process; the artist had to adapt her artistic output to what her body could handle, moving from strict collagraphs to stencils and blind embossing – uncovering within that new and exciting textures.  Elements of this metamorphosis can be seen on close inspection of Beyond the Elements Series and the Chrysalis Series along with the individual prints, reflecting back glimpses or snippets of this process – steps along the evolutionary curve.

The second main causative theory for the biophilia hypothesis is Stress Recovery Theory of which Roger Ulrich and Yannick Joye have been the main contributors4.  This theory outlines the direct benefits of nature in stress reduction which the artist found in Underwood Park.  The ducks and accompanying pond were the perfect restorative environment and provided Rachael with great joy whilst recovering from another two surgeries in 2017 and the following radiation treatments.  Lost (which was made during her radiation treatment) highlights what the artist herself describes as a rambling, chaotic, unsettling state she experienced during this time – a reflection on the state of her mind after a period of not being able to make art.  A Pond Reflection was made after Rachael was able to get back into the studio on a regular basis.  The calming effect of the ducks, dappled light of the trees and movement of the water integrating into this second artwork and reflecting a more peaceful inner state.

To understand Rachael’s work is to understand the nature of biophilia itself.  Neuroscience and social psychology are only just starting to explore the depths of our connection to nature but Rachael has already been exploring this concept for over 20 years in her work.  Envisage – unseen rhythms was a direct response to this feeling of a connection to, and absorption with the positive experience of nature based environments and the unseen forces that create this attraction.  Only roughly five per cent of the universe is visible to the human eye.  Dark Energy is an unknown form of energy that repels gravity and accounts for approximately 70 per cent of space, occupying the entire universe and causing its expansion to accelerate5.  The ‘negative space’ in Rachael’s work acts as a visual metaphor for what dark energy might be?  And what it might look like?  This is depicted most clearly by the representation of the ‘critters’, the physical output of forces exerted by the artist on her medium of creation.  Unseen and unknown forces like the first single celled amoeba that activated nature as we know it.  Forces that still physically and subconsciously affect us through seen and unseen rhythms, bringing dark energy and matter to light through biophilic engagement.

For Rachael Lee, this solo show marks her most ambitious project yet.  It has truly connected her to her local natural environment within Logan and acted as a tool for regeneration at a time of great physical stress.  Rachael acknowledges the importance of nature and how central this, in conjunction to her arts practice, is for her wellbeing.  She has stated herself that she cannot produce anything that doesn’t stem from beauty because for her art is about erring on the side of hope and acknowledging our very physical nature – both known and unknown, seen and unseen.

Notes:

  1. Edward O. Wilson, The Biophilia Hypothesis, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1984.
  2. Kaitlyn Gills and Birgitta Gatersleben, A Review of Psychological Literature on the Health and Wellbeing Benefits of Biophilic Design, Buildings 5, 2015, p. 959.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Yannick Joye, Biophilic Design Aesthetics in Art and Design Education, University of Illinois Press, Chicago, 45 (2), p. 17-35.
  5. Interview with Rachael Lee, 5 March 2018.

 

Envisage – unseen rhythms is at Logan Art Gallery in Queensland 15 June-21 July.

This project is supported by the Regional Arts Development Fund, a partnership between the Queensland Government and Logan City Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

 Rachael Lee is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.

Jay Dee Dearness is a Brisbane-based printmaker, curator and designer.  She is a past vice-president of Impress Printmaker’s Group Brisbane, operated Myrtle Street Studio (a print and paper ARI) and is commencing her postgraduate research this year on the impact of art, culture and biophilia for wellbeing in the workplace.  Jay Dee has exhibited internationally and is a certified WELL Accredited Professional for health and wellbeing in the built environment through the International WELL Building Institute.

 

Jenny Kitchener: Pollinate

Above: Jenny Kitchener, Parrott and Honeyeater. Right: Sighted Beetle III. Below: The Family Portraits folder.

 

 

 

Jenny Kitchener discusses her latest exhibition, Pollinate.

What were some of the foundation ideas for Pollinate and how did you work with them?

My two previous solo shows, Array, (2014) and Folly, (2015) attempted to highlight the decline of the pollinating insects, which include bees, wasps, beetles, butterflies and moths. The indiscriminate use of insecticides and habitat loss are important contributing factors in this decline. These insects are essential to many plants reproductive cycles and for the future biodiversity of the planet.

Pollinate continues this concern, shifting the main focus to the pollinating birds. Australia is unusual in that our birds are globally outstanding as pollinators. The two main pollinating families of birds are the parrots and the honeyeaters. Eucalypts and paperbarks, which form vast forests, are just some of the bird pollinated trees favoured by the honeyeater family. If we lose these birds, we lose the forests.

What are some of the works in the exhibition and how did they evolve?

In the service of trees: bird pollinators – (This linocut was selected by the Print Council of Australia as part of their 2017 Print Commission). This print is a pictorial celebration of the two major pollinating bird families in Australia. The two bird images have been appropriated from some of the very first European depictions of these birds (made by First Fleet artists). Each bird is surrounded by a plant species which it often pollinates. The two bell jars are a reminder of how we tend to place ourselves apart from ‘nature’, and so fail to appreciate the holistic workings of our biosphere. (This print was directly influenced by the book ‘Where Song Began’ by Tim Lowe).

Family: Psittacidae (parrots) & Family: Meliphagidae (honey-eaters) I have reused parts of the above print (and added a collaged full colour version of each bird) which I have then framed in elaborate antique portrait-style frames, in much the same way as we lovingly frame photographs of our own family members. In so doing, I hope to elevate the bird families’ status in our own eyes, and highlight the valuable work that these wonderful creatures perform in their role as pollinators.

Here & there, Bird song & Glimpse – these three artworks are all monotypes. They were printed utilising local plant species found in different specific locations. This is a technique which allows you to print directly from the plant itself, thus producing an accurate and detailed reproduction of its features. This manner of printing harks back to a method known as ‘nature printing’ which dates to the fifteenth century and was used to document different plant types. The plants, along with representations of birds, celebrate the close connection between plants and birds and the interconnectedness of nature.

Sighted – in this series of cut-out silhouettes of various insect pollinators I am once again referencing the idea of the portrait. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries black cut-out silhouettes of heads, often in profile, were a popular way of depicting family members. These insects are pinned to a screen printed background of plants – a reference to the insects pinned for display in biological collections.

Family portraits: Psittacidae & Meliphagidae – this folio of four small linocuts, each with a portrait of a bird head, is alluding to the same ideas as found in the bird family prints (the idea of the family portrait) but in this case, bringing an intimacy to the relationship between the viewer and the bird as the viewer has to handle the print, rather than viewing it behind glass. The storing of prints in a folio is one of the earliest ways of presenting prints. The folios were stored in drawers and only brought out occasionally to be viewed.

The Encroachment seriesan occasional series of mixed media prints are at once both whimsical and serious. The imagery includes various parts of birds, insects and plants floating on a screenprinted bush background. Placed in amongst this natural setting are unnatural objects such as light bulbs and USB sticks which represent the on-going and seemingly insatiable human-centred encroachment into even the last wild places.

You work with various materials beyond printmaking itself – why and how?

Some ideas need other materials or techniques to realise the various concepts I am trying to get across. For example, in the Sighted series I have pinned black silhouette paper cut-outs of insects onto screen prints. The pinned cut-out references scientific display methods and is also alluding to the silhouette portrait. Under glass presents a series of different sized paperweights with prints, displayed on an oval mirror.

For me,  the manner of the presentation of the work is also important. For instance, the antique portrait frames used in Family: Psittacidae (parrots) & Family: Meliphagidae (honey-eaters) give the prints another layer of meaning, that of the family portrait. I will also often hark back to traditional methods of presenting prints. The folio is used to present the four prints in Family portraits: Psittacidae & Meliphagidae and boxes are used to house a series of small monotypes in Small Treasures I and II. Both folios and boxes (solander) have been traditionally used to protect and present prints, before framing became more common.

The format of a print or series of prints can also add extra layers of meaning. In many of the works in  ‘Pollinate’ I have used an oval format as an important signifier. The oval shape has often been used to frame or enclose portraits of people and I have appropriated this tradition and extrapolated it to ‘frame’ portraits of bird family members.

What are some of the possible ways viewers might experience this exhibition as a whole?

One of the buildings at the Grafton Regional Gallery is a lovely old nineteenth century two storey house. I selected this particular space in the lovely ‘Prentice House’ as I knew the interior would work well with the manner in which I wanted to present the work: the use of antique frames, and folios and boxed prints presented in an elegant display cabinet. I also have the sound of birds, recorded from my verandah at home, playing very quietly in the exhibition space.

Jenny Kitchener: Pollinate is at Grafton regional Gallery until 27 May

 

Wayne Viney: Transience

Above, right and below: works from Wayne Viney’s Lake Charm series.

 

 

 

WAYNE VINEY: THE LAKE CHARM SERIES

By Sheridan Palmer

It is the difference between the raw, white and direct light of a midday sun beating down on all things equally, and the horizontal light of evening, firing the strange clouds with reflections …      Théophile Gautier

 

The north-eastern landscape of Victoria around Kerang first attracted Wayne Viney in 2005 and over the ensuing decade he made further journeys and many drawings of this vast, flat country. Large freshwater lakes and interconnecting irrigation channels form a capillary-like grid that feeds an important farming belt, but it was the immense and ever-changing skies, which throw reflections upon the lakes’ edges and the canals, doubling, mirroring and creating a visual register of rhythmic abstraction, that makes this Lake Charm area perfect territory for Viney’s aesthetics.

 

After a decade of controlled colouristic minimalism, Viney, who is recognised as one of Australia’s most accomplished printmakers, takes his signature medium the monotype and returns to his painterly, gestural fluency in order to capture the unique spatiality of this dry land. The linearism, whether diagonals or a long horizon line or a road is compressed into the lower third of the composition, while the rest of the picture is offset by great turbulent skies or billowing clouds. The dramatic contrast between earth and sky is amplified by an acute sense of isolation and powerfully connects the vital forces of nature, the mere human element being incidental. Exotic clumps of palm trees animate the tree-lines along the banks of the canals, and though seemingly picturesque, are suggestive of the migrational and multicultural history of these inland regions. The trees and the man-made canals attest to possession of the land and how colonial settlement changed the area from a normally arid landscape to a large farming and agricultural food bowl. But Viney’s art is not about historical narrative; rather he is an artist who exalts in the beauty of landscapes and who immerses himself in its pictorial, impressionist representation. His rapid brushwork and handling of the ink, the immediacy of mark-making and the accidental or unexpected way the ink bleeds are for him cathartic and emotionally liberating.  It is not difficult to respond to this sense of exhilaration and, indeed, these monotypes reconfirm Viney as a romantic printmaker.

 

With a simplified palette of blacks and whites — a conscious choice by Viney — these prints pay homage to the power and complexity of chiaroscuro, a method that offers a three-dimensional effect, especially when the play of dazzling light is sharpened by the contrasts of the two key tones. In Wayne Viney’s hands this subtle and minimal tonal range both unifies the composition and invites us to consider the evening hush when the last sun rays dramatise the visible remnants of the day.  It is precisely at this time of day, when colour recedes into the dark and neutral tones of black and white, that the timelessness of the great rural Australian plains and the immensity and grandeur of their skies are best captured.

Transience: The Lake Charm series is at Port Jackson Press 1-21 June 

Impact: Open Bite Printmakers

Above:  Open Bite Printmakers, Thirsty (detail of assembly;),2017-18, etching, collagraph, linocut, woodblock, digital, solar plate, silk screen, each 21 x 14 x 8.6 cm. Courtesy of Open Bite Printmakers. Right: Open Bite Printmakers, Our Common Ground (detail), 2017-18, etching, collagraph, linocut, woodblock, digital, solar plate, 300 x 200 cm.    Courtesy of Open Bite Printmakers. Below: The Open Bite Printmakers assembled.

 

 

 

Linda Galbraith and Sonia Gallart discuss the acceptance of the Open Bite Printmakers group into the Impact 10 conference.

The development of a proposal to enter an international exhibition for an individual artist can be fraught with indecision and insecurities. For a group of artists, this process can be even more challenging. However, Sydney-based Open Bite Printmakers Inc managed to successfully engage with the hurdles, and to be accepted into Impact 10 – Encuentro (Encounter) in Santander, Spain in September this year. The name Impact is an acronym for International Multidisciplinary Printmaking, Artists, Concepts and Techniques (quite a mouthful!) and was founded at UWE in Bristol, UK over 20 years ago. The event aims to facilitate a forum for artistic academia with papers presented, workshops held and an exhibition of works by print practitioners from around the world.

After one of our members attended the Impact 9 conference in China in 2015, she enthusiastically suggested OBP should participate. Her enthusiasm was contagious and we decided to put in a submission for the next conference and so began a collaborative process of choosing a theme and a direction that we could all work with. It was not an easy task and several people decided against being involved. This left 16 dedicated artists throwing many ideas around and eventually coming up with two possibilities. We decided to select one by a democratic vote. Of course, democracy being what it is, the vote was 50/50. Dilemma. We chose to submit both proposals and even got them in with hours to spare!

After a long, tense wait (originally, accepted participants were due to be notified by 15th January, then extended until 23rd February), we were finally advised on 1st March that one of our proposals had been accepted. The collective sense of relief and excitement was almost visible. Then, two days later, we were told the other proposal was also accepted. This, of course, doubled the excitement, the work and the anticipation, at the same time increasing the sense of nervous pressure for us all. We are going to Spain and we need to get the works and the organisation into gear.

The two proposals are quite different but both required us to address one of the nominated themes under the Encounter umbrella. For the first piece, Our Common Ground, we chose the encounters between society, culture and languages. We felt that Australia, a land of diverse cultures and languages, would provide an elegant platform for artists to showcase their disparate, as well as their shared, encounters and stories of our country. We envisaged that the artwork would be symbolic of how we each walk through our lives, so the prints would be placed on the ground where we actually do walk. For the viewer, it becomes a more interactive piece, walking around the project and looking down instead of looking to the wall. It will be installed in a loosely geometric pattern, prints separated yet connected with lines of text implying the cultural intersections of society.

The second piece, Thirsty, fits into the theme of encounters with styles and techniques, which sits so well with a group of printmakers who all approach and make their work in different ways. Based on the Australian invention of a wine cask (these days also used for other liquids), each artist would make a print and from it construct a box replicating the cask. There was enthusiastic approval of this idea but also lot of dissent because of the possible connotations with alcohol abuse. We felt by approaching the work as a symbol of hospitality and good humour we could obviate this and present a unique, sculptural artwork. The casks will be displayed in separate groups around the venue – viewers coming across them as ‘surprise encounters’ – the remains of a fun time?!

The encounters that an artist experiences may or may not be so different from each other or from someone in any other life journey but the interpretations of, and responses to, those encounters are uniquely evident in our prints. It will be a treat for those Open Biters who are contributing to this particular Encounter and will enrich all our lives. As for those of us attending the conference – well, what can we say? Bring it on!

Push Pull Press

Above:  Milan Milojevic, States of Play  2017, digital print with multi-plate overlays, 36 panel piece, each panel 30cm x 40cm.  Right: Dr Yvonne Rees Pagh, The Strange Dragon Blood Tree of Socotra Island, 2018, etching, 160 x 200 cm. Below: Jennifer Marshall, Crossing of the Red Sea after Poussin, 2017, woodcut.

 

 

 

Review by: Jan Hogan and Melissa Smith

Push Pull Press: a printmaking exploration at Burnie Regional Art Gallery until 3 June 2018

“The ultimate iconography of a work of art – its true topic, in fact – does not lie in the merely given ‘subject’.  It lies far more deeply implicit in how that subject is developed.” Phillip Rawson

Three artists well travelled but currently resident in Hobart have developed an exhibition of prints that explores the potential of the medium.  Large-scale prints using different approaches and printmaking processes reveal the progression and development of ideas and technique. The underlying concept behind each artist’s reason for scaling up their work is to emphasise how their works are developed, the iconography is implicit in the processes used.  These artists have all been committed educators and these prints have an embedded lesson within them. The content, material presence and process are integrated in highly sophisticated ways to ‘educate’ about historical references and their impact   the development of the print in a contemporary context.

Jennifer Marshall appears to take the most direct approach by mirroring the exact dimensions of Titian’s twelve-block woodcut Crossing of the Red Sea 1514/15 held in the British Museum collection.  She has carefully studied each panel of the print and in her translation of this work used considered and gestural cuts into her blocks, which are printed in two tones of grey, overlaying imagery to allow chance elements of texture and light to occur.  There appears to be a resurgence in recent years of this tradition of hand copying works as contemporary artists explore the archives of museums and galleries.  The knowledge gained by looking carefully and redrawing the structure, tones and lines of significant works is immeasurable as illustrated in the exuberant mark marking by Marshall in her exhaustive repetitions and renditions of Titian’s work.  To assist in her understanding Marshall also studied Poussin’s painting (1632-1634) of the same theme and composition, on a similar scale as Titian’s woodcut.  Marshall has completed an accompanying suite of etchings using burnt sienna, which has become evident in Poussin’s painting as it ages.   The painting is in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria and was able to be viewed by Marshall repeatedly during her development of this suite.

Marshall’s work celebrates the works in Australian collections and the importance of encountering artworks to understand their materiality, processes and physical presence.  The large-scale sixteen-panel woodcut after Poussin reminds us of the importance of print historically, for the dissemination of an artists interpretation of major themes, revealing their composition and tonal range for other artists to engage and reply to.  Marshall has given contemporary life to Titian’s woodcut through scaling up the mark to a rougher hand gesture woodcut than the more traditional reproductive ‘objective’ mark making of Titian’s woodcut.  The chiaroscuro in Titian’s composition is examined and rendered for exposition to a contemporary audience.

Yvonne Rees Pagh’s magnificent four-paneled etching of The Strange Dragon Blood Tree of Socotra Island, 2017, mirrors the tree form. The warm earthy tones and central blood red tinge suggest corporeality in the earth rather than a traditional reflection of a tree in a river.  The branching forms reach beneath the earth and echo the lung form, which is a primary function of trees especially in disturbed territories such as Socotra, an island famous for its endemic flora and fauna but is being destroyed by goats.  Rees-Pagh a committed activist, has produced many bodies of works on contemporary political and social issues and sees print as having a responsibility to convey her messages.

Large-scale prints can be produced for their visual impact and also allow for exploration of process to be amplified. Rees-Pagh experiments with multiple processes on her plates, which includes exposing them to extreme environmental conditions. The resulting scarred and pitted surfaces and the irregularity and variety of the marks metaphors for the state of the environment itself. These marks echo the extreme pressures impacting on this particular archipelago of islands. Rees-Pagh through the process of creating this work provides a genuine history behind the formation of the surface, emphasizing the materiality of the print ground, its sensitivity to marks, as it becomes a palimpsest recording the traces of the events that have occurred on it.  The print form for Rees-Pagh is a material record of social, political and environmental awareness.  As events occur in the world she responds emotionally and sensitively to record the outrage she feels for the injustices and damage occurring to the planet.

Milan Milojevic’s States of Play is a thirty-six-panel digital print with multi-plate overlays that reveals the “rules of the game” of printmaking that he has been exhaustively exploring for a number of years.  The print is a metamorphosis of his fantastical creatures and the technical steps revealed to arrive at the rich, saturated formations inherent in his work.  The end panels are a ghostly grey layer of traditional woodcut marks of landscapes referenced from the period of exploration in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.  Milojevic  acknowledges that during this period printmaking played a role in disseminating knowledge and in many cases disinformation about the southern worlds being explored. He has incorporated digital print layers with traditional printmaking techniques to gradually “build” the imagery both in complexity and colour to a crescendo in the centre of this multi-paneled print. These are not resolved in the computer but rather in the printing as he reveals in the gradual layering in the panels. The central panel of foliage is depicted in vibrant blues and greens and the yellow and red birds and flowers that are found among the leaves provide a three-dimensional quality.

In States of Play, Milojevic utilises every printmaking tool in his kit.  There are reversals, repetitions, overlays, ‘chance’ happenings and a gradual metamorphosis of ghostly traces into the central “tree of life”. The animals distributed across the landscape format of this print reveal the layers required to build their forms, reminiscent of the beautiful blends in Ukiyo-e printmaking that add the illusionistic depth to his fantastical formations.  These ‘plays’ with exposing the process also reference the history of printmaking across time and place

In both a literal and physical sense, Marshall, Milojevic and Rees-Pagh have pulled and pushed at the limits of their respective technical approaches, and through their chosen subject matter to create an exhibition of prints that explore the printmaking practice to a new level.

Rawson, Phillip, Drawing: The Appreciation of the Arts/3, Oxford University Press, London, 1969, p.6

Jane Giblin: The Earth Muzzle

Above: Jane Giblin, Full Stretch Kiss, 2017, 180 x 120 cm, ink and pigment on magnani Right: Jane Giblin, The Confused Russell, 2017, 150 x 120 cm,ink and pigment on-magnani Below: Jane Giblin, Stockman 015, 2018, silver gelatin print, 26 x 27cm

 

 

 

Jane Giblin explores White Australia and land in her coming show The Earth Muzzle.

Imprint: What is the premise for this exhibition and how have you been working towards it?

JG: I have been exploring the midlands of Tasmania since the mid-1990s. This originates in the journeys around Tasmania and New South Wales with my father as he undertook his work as a civil engineer, meeting farmers and helping them with their water resources. I enjoy resting my cheek on the earth. While mutton birding in my eighteenth year, I found the same pleasure in the earth of the islands of Franklin Sound in the Furneaux Islands, and in the immediacy of obtaining such a wonderful food with my extended family.

I am a descendent of settlers, including those abandoned by their family members 150 years ago.

I enjoy drawing the landscape, drawing people working in the landscape and do not enjoy the fact that it is stolen land. My feelings for place and land are chewie and complex and confusing frankly.

My Master in Fine Art and Design in Printmaking (lithography) resulted in a large multi-panelled work which was the result of several years chasing around shearers, hunters, slaughterers, dog handlers and a solo female farmer… all in the midlands of Tasmania. It was a testimony to their energy and work, which remains mostly hidden from those thousands travelling the highways of Tasmania and Australia… but exists just beyond the horizon or just up a dirt road, beyond an immediate barrow or conglomerate of hills.

This show responds to my relationship to the landscape and being a woman in that landscape, while struggling with what I know occurred there during its settlement and invasion. I use a model, who understands my pleasure in the landscape and animals, particularly dogs. Her responses while I draw and photograph her have this year enabled a closure of sorts to these decades of the work.

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

JH: Foundation ideas… texture in pigment, colour and search in line… confusion over our relationship with earth and animal, and security and vulnerability. Lustful pleasure in the hunt, the chew, the scratch, the lick and the difficulty of being our true selves.

The works are large works on paper, laminated to stretchers; they retain the sense of marks on paper, and the search with ink, the attack with liquidity of taking a risk and swimming in it. The works also include a series of analogue silver gelatin prints, which are the first time I have placed photographs with my drawings. I have made medium format photographs for twenty-five years as support for my drawings and prints.

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

JG: I adore the way pigments lay on paper and soak in varying degrees into the magnani aquarello. I love the way ink splats and rots and smells while I work it all out. The earth is in the pigment and the ink…even though the colours might not be earthy…the earth is there in the grain of it all. I love its density and flexibility. I love that now I know instinctively, how long certain tones need to remain, to soak in to the paper, before I need to wipe areas back, if at all…I love how I can select areas of black to rescrub and permit to re-emerge from under the heavier zones of pigment.

Mostly my challenge involves drawing these works on the flat, and as large works dealing with proportion …and allowing distortion to take hold …the only challenge is working on one work at any time because there is no where to hang work in progress in my small drawing studio. I had two carpel tunnel operations which held the work off for some time…and I had to place rolls of foam around my drawing canes just to be able to hold them…sometimes drawing with both hands or my left hand.

The challenge at the base of all of this is to trust myself. To let fly, to take the risk and enjoy what my mind and heart permit. All of this is why lithography took my heart too.

The Earth Muzzle is at Colville Gallery, 91A Salamanca Place, Hobart, opening April 27.

Katie Glaskin: Scent of a falling dark

Above: For the Term of her Natural Life, 30 x30cm, linocut print on Arches 300g paper, Based on a photograph by Myra Sargent Right: Scent of a Falling Dark, 30 x30cm, linocut print on Arches 300g paper. Based on photograph (unattributed) of juvenile thylacine at Beaumaris Zoo, Hobart. Below:  Apparition, 29 x 41cm, linocut print on Arches 300g paper . Based on two photographs, one taken by unknown photographer at Beaumaris zoo, Hobart, in September 1911; the other from a photograph of three siblings at Beaumaris zoo.

 

 

 

Katie Glaskin discusses her paintings and linocut prints drawing on historical images of thylacines to explore themes of loss, endangerment and extinction.

Imprint: What is the premise for this exhibition and how have you been working towards it?

KG: This exhibition began with a dream in which I encountered an animal in the city of Perth. It reminded me of something: a Tasmanian tiger, but it was out of place and time. And then (in the dream) the animal was gone, before I had a chance to fully discover it. Part of what struck me about the dream was how little I knew about thylacines; the animal was both familiar and strange, and this raised questions for me about memory, perception, and imagination, and about place and trace. While the thylacine is familiar in some ways—iconic of extinction—to most of us it is also completely unknown. Not understanding what we have lost multiplies the tragedy of the loss of animals like these. And the same is true of other endangerments and extinctions, metaphorical and actual, taking place all the time.

The Tasmanian tiger has a more complex extinction history than most, with a mainland extinction occurring an estimated 3500 years ago, and a more recent Tasmanian extinction marked by the death of the last thylacine in captivity, which died (of exposure) in 1936. This followed a bounty put on the thylacine and advance warning of the species’ impending extinction a long way before this particular animal’s death. While researching the thylacine I came across a number of photographic images which inspired me to begin the work for this exhibition. This has been a gradual process of discovery, one that has led me to further explore extinction in general.

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

KG: Emblematically, the thylacine stands between a deep historical past and uncertain species futures, with many scientists regarding the earth to be in the midst of what is being called ‘the Sixth Extinction’. Extinction is a process, not an event. It is already occurring long before the death of an animal that is the last of its kind. It raises issues concerning our relationship with the world and our responsibilities to it, and to our fellow inhabitants, the non-human animals with whom we share it. So it is as much about humans as it is about the species that become extinct. Because it is about losing something unique that can never be regained, it is a theme that speaks for itself. Australia is home to many unique animals, a number of which are endangered or have become extinct. But it also speaks metaphorically to other kinds of endangerments, losses and extinctions. This seems imperative to reflect on at this time when we are confronted on a global scale with issues of climate change, nuclear proliferation, and so on.

The images in this exhibition represent a journey of discovery, of which sadness and celebration of this amazing marsupial both play a part. The exhibition contains linocut prints and large scale acrylic paintings, and works across the two different mediums are often in dialogue with each other. Many of the photographic images on which these works are based have a haunting, affective quality, and although most of my thylacines have been repatriated out of zoo settings, I think some of these qualities associated with the subject remain. The print from which this exhibition gained its title, Scent of a Falling Dark, has a certain ambiguity and can be understood in different ways. The same is true of a number of images in the exhibition.

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

KG: A technical challenge involved with working with a subject like the thylacine is needing to rely on photographic images as the basis to learn about their visual form. This has its own set of challenges, given that the camera can conceal as much as it can reveal. Many of the images are low in resolution, poor quality, and grainy. Part of the challenge too is that what I am drawing on is mediated through a very partial historical record. There are very few images of the thylacine overall—I keep on searching—and many of those that do exist are of the same individuals.

Imprint: What future projects are you working on?

KG: I will continue to work with the theme of extinction, and I am not ready to let go of the thylacines yet. I am spending more time interrogating images of thylacine museum specimens and these raise a range of questions, including about cloning extinct animals, which is something scientists are trying to do with the thylacine.

I have also become increasingly interested in the relationship between images of extinct species—photographic images, but also images of extinct species in rock art—and our readings of them. In archaeology, for example, there are debates about some rock art depictions and about whether something identified as a particular species is really the creature it is said to be. I find these issues compelling because they raise questions about ways of seeing, ways of knowing, and about our human engagements and entanglements with the world. The reported (unconfirmed) sightings of Tasmanian tigers since their declared extinction are also interesting, because they are a kind of haunting, like the photographic images of lost species. At the same time, I am also drawn to endangered species (two numbats have found their way into this exhibition). So there is a range of future projects that will build on this one.

Scent of a Falling Dark, is at Moore’s Building, 46 Henry St, Fremantle, 28 April-13 May.

Gary Shinfield: Compeung Thailand

Above: Gary Shinfield, Tree of Life 1, 2016, woodcut print on painted paper, 76 x 56 cm Right: Gary SHinfield, Window 1, 2016, unique state woodcut print on Thai paper, 79 x 56 cm Below: Gary Shinfield, Platform 1, 2016, woodcut print with painting and drawing, 56 x 76 cm

 

 

 

 

Gary Shinfield entered a collaborative space with his latest body of work. 

Imprint: What is the premise for this exhibition and how have you been working towards it?

GS: In 2016 I travelled to Compeung artist residency in Northern Thailand, for a period of four weeks. A friend and fellow artist, Thai-born Viruch Pikhunthod, who passed away in 2015, was the reason for my return to Thailand. The aim was to create a body of work to honour his memory.

Human breath, with its repetition and subtle variations as experienced in meditation, is the subject matter of works made. Images developed through multiple layers as I moved through a daily ritual of adding marks. Drawings, paintings and woodcuts on various types of locally sourced Thai paper evolved over this time.

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

GS: In Thailand I suspended works from bamboo poles placed within the environment and in various rooms of my living space. Several short videos were also made. The main idea was to recreate an environment in the gallery similar to that created at Compeung, by using bamboo poles to hang works and to show unframed works on various handmade Thai papers.

The prints made were based on the idea of viewing an abundance of nature from inside a small shrine. The tree of life motif painted on wooden shutters inside, was mirrored in the landscape outside. In response, many small wooden blocks were overprinted and layered to create a series of unique state prints.

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

GS: I purchased materials locally—plywood for woodcuts, and various types of paper, from craft paper to high quality handmade papers produced at Idin Papermill in Lampang. For printing I used a baren made by Roz Kean and water-based gouaches and inks. The woodcuts were carved in a studio without walls and in various places in the environment.

The main challenge was that the Compeung residency was not set up for printmaking, it is aimed more at bringing artists together from various disciplines to interact with each other. I found this liberating in many ways: collaborating with a performance artist to hang works in unconventional ways, and making videos based on performance and ritual. This followed through to the making of prints, as works made became more painterly, intuitive and three-dimensional.

Imprint: What future projects are you working on?

GS: I am planning to travel to Art Print Residency in Spain for four weeks in August. This will be followed by participation at Impact 10 in Santander where new work will be exhibited. Spanish music has been the motivation for this trip and how this relates to the making of prints is as yet to be discovered.

Compeung Thailand is at Incinerator Art Space, 2 Small St, Willoughby, NSW, 18 April-6 May

Interwoven: Peter Ward

Above: Peter Ward, Wrapping Paper 1, 2016, 50 x 60 cm, woven linocut Right: Peter Ward, Woven Tune 1, 2017, 15 x 15 cm, woven linocut Below: Peter Ward, Woven Head, 2016, 12 x 12 cm, woven linocut

 

 

Weaving and printmaking go together in the work of Peter Ward.

IMPRINT: What is the premise for this exhibition and how have you been working towards it?

PW: I began weaving linocuts in 2013. My interest started almost by accident when I was looking at several colour variations of a print that was not quite getting there. I decided to try weaving them together. The result was something more than the original—a shimmering patterned surface which diffused the image and compelled the viewer to look a little harder to discover the narrative. This exhibition offers me the opportunity to collect together many of the woven works I’ve done since 2013 including Apocalypse Tattoo Woven which has been shortlisted in this year’s Swan Hill prize.

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

PW: The woven works are an extension of existing linocuts and contain all their narrative elements—most recently an apocalyptic view of the world I’ve gained from watching too much TV news. These elements are obscured behind the attractive surface the weaving creates. I enjoy the tension between this attractiveness and the darker images just below the surface. I’m confident that everyone visiting the exhibition will see a serious and cohesive body of work.

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

PW: The weaving is not technically challenging in itself but finding colour ways that interact satisfactorily is. Those who are familiar with my work know that I like to play with bright colour and when I manage to get the image and colours just right the two prints seem to magically merge into a unique work greater than the sum of its two parts. I tend to use smaller works as studies before launching into the larger pieces which can take up to two days to weave.

IMPRINT: What future projects are you working on?

PW: After the Firestation show I have a three-week residency at the Art Vault in Mildura where I will be working towards a solo show at Tacit Galleries in September. The centrepiece of this show will be Small Tunes, a large quilt made up of multiple 15 x 15cm linocuts printed onto calico.

Interwoven is at Firstation Print Studio April 4-21.

He will give a demonstration in the Firestation Print Studio Gallery at 2pm on Saturday April 7.