The Aims and Programme of the Print Council of Australia
Although still small, the number of Australian artists using graphic media is steadily increasing. A nation-wide exhibition of Australian prints under the name of ‘Print Survey 1963’ was organised by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Lately too, a few art dealers have opened in Sydney and Melbourne specialising in local and imported prints. At least two print prizes are offered annually. Adelaide awards a prize of $50.00 and Geelong one of $100.00. Printmaking an Australian publication (Longmans 1965) marks the first attempt at a survey of printmaking in book form. This year too, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology has established a full time diploma course in printmaking, the first to be seen in Australia.
We would continue this list, but it is already obvious that a revival of printmaking has occurred during the last few years and that the efforts of some artists, teachers and print curators are finding recognition.
Our aims then are, to consolidate these efforts, to stimulate further activities and to encourage understanding and appreciation of the original print.
What is an Original Print?
We know that there exists confusion between the print as a multi-original work of art and a print as reproduction of a work of art with the result that many people are still blind to the particular qualities of the original print. Following the example of the Print Council of America, we speak of an original print if:
- The artist alone has made the image in or upon the plate, stone, woodblock or other material for the purpose of creating a work of art.
- The impression is made directly from that original material by the artist or pursuant to his directions.
- The finished print is approved by the artist.
An original print (woodcut, etching, engraving, lithograph or serigraph) belongs to the category of multi-original works of art, limited in edition to anything from a few to several hundred originals, each as fine as the others. Its aesthetic qualities correspond directly to the image the artist has imparted to the printing block, plate or stencil and its scale follows exactly the dimensions of the drawn image. Unlike the photo-mechanical process for reproduction, the printing process for original prints requires the artist himself to produce the printing surface in a suitable material so that the resulting prints from that surface become the originals. Whether printed by hand, or with the help of printing presses (which are sometimes motorised) the making of the printing surface must be done by hand and not by a mechanical process. The resulting prints are checked by the artist and approved by him. Hand signed, numbered and often printed on specially selected paper, original prints bear all the marks of an artist’s aesthetic intention, unchanged by any mechanical interference.
Thus, original prints can open to the interested person new and rich avenues of artistic experience. Original works at moderate prices can be purchased widely, owing to the printing of editions. Also the artist can reach a wider audience than otherwise possible.
Much still needs to be done to awaken and satisfy interest in the art of printmaking and the following programme, suggested by the Print Council of Australia, is designed to do this.
- To conduct meetings, lectures, demonstrations, etc.
- Establishment of a major annual Print Prize to stimulate interest by artists and public.
- Annual exhibition of Print Prize entries to open simultaneously in all capital cities and main towns.
- To assist members to participate in international print exhibitions.
- To publish a broadsheet.
- To establish print workshops for artists’ use and the production of prints for society members.
– Udo Sellbach