Each year the Print Council of Australia commissions 10 Australian artists from an open call for submissions to create an edition of prints. Two independent arts professionals judge entries and select 10 final prints to be commissioned. The selected artists produce a limited edition of between 30-40 prints in their chosen medium. Paper for each edition is supplied by the Print Commission sponsor, Canson Australia.
Commissioned artists this year are RONA GREEN, HEATHER KUNJARRA KOOWOOTHA, PIA LARSEN, KATY MUTTON, RUJUNKO PUGH, JOHN RYRIE, GWEN SCOTT, SENYE SHEN, ROCHELLE SUMMERFIELD, SOPHIE WESTERMAN. You can see images and a full description of the prints on the PCA Print Commission page. PCA members and members of the public can purchase prints from the Commission.
Last night’s Queensland launch was one of seven to be held around Australia to launch the 2016 Commission, and local print enthusiasts are delighted to be able to view the works ‘in person’. The prints will be on display in the gallery until the end of October. Also in the gallery is 20/20 an exhibition showcasing 20 years of the USC art collection for their 20th anniversary.
Several recent events have seen printmakers from the region generously share their expertise, techniques and inspirations with a broad audience of interested members of the public and other printmakers and artists.
At Caloundra Regional Gallery on June 8th Fiona Dempster, Judy Barrass and Tory Richards each gave a 15 minute presentation about their own approach to printmaking. The evening was part of the gallery’s ‘Uncovered’ series of talks with the aim of giving access to a deeper conversation with artists. Tory gave in depth information on her processes of copper etching, Fiona introduced the history and art of letterpress, and Judy looked at new technologies, digital print and beyond. It was an informative night enjoyed by all who attended. Thank you to Caloundra Gallery for hosting the event.
At the University of Sunshine Coast Gallery on Saturday June 11th twelve artists from the Regional Marks exhibition spoke briefly about their work. In a spirit of enthusiasm and comradery they shared their inspiration, insights into their practice, and their techniques. Sometimes artist talks can be stuffy affairs fluffed up with artspeak and egos, but this was plain, from the heart speaking that inspired other printmakers and filled the audience with admiration. Such generosity of spirit is what being part of the printmaking community is all about.
Almost no one could have had their head around the range of techniques and approaches represented in the exhibition, so there was something for everyone to learn and marvel at and none of us even noticed we’d be standing a long time before the morning was over.
Thank you to all the artists who participated, and to the curator Catherine Money for ably guiding us through the exhibition and introducing each artist. It was a delightful, personal touch to a group exhibition that brought the works into perspective and turned the impersonal wall labels into human stories.
Regional Marks continues at the USC Gallery until July 2nd
‘I’m not a printmaker’ was the opening statement from Maleny artist Noela Mills speaking about her work in the Regional Marks printmaking exhibition at the artist talks last Saturday. It made me wonder what she meant, and I would have liked to follow it up with her later, but the opportunity passed.
Not a printmaker? She was standing beside her lovely monoprints that are featured below the signature title of the exhibition.
What do we mean when we say ‘printmaker’. Clearly it means different things to different people, but surely anyone who makes prints as part of their art practice is a ‘printmaker’. How many prints do you have to make to be classed as a ‘printmaker’? Do prints have to be a certain proportion of the works that you produce? Or do you need to have skills across the range of printmaking techinques? Or is a printmaker defined by the equipment they own or use?
Noela’s comments made me remember works I had seen recently in a print exhibition in Pau in France, by artists best known as painters. But they were printmakers too, trying their hand at engraving, etching, mezzotint and relief printing. What struck me in looking at a whole gallery of prints by many of the French Impressionists best known for their paintings, was how their own individual style was as evident in this ‘other’ medium as in their paintings.
Like those artists, and like Noela, most of us belong to that same tradition of artists working across mediums. Our work is not confined to one technique. We are willing to try new or different things and the total body of what we produce becomes a rich tapestry of experiments and techniques. If we are lucky one of those techniques grabs our hearts and our hands and becomes the focus of what we do, but it is rarely at the exclusion of everything else.
I’m happy to call myself a printmaker, amongst other things, but not at the exclusion of other things, and I think Noela is definitely a printmaker too.
Last Saturday, as one of the public programmes around ‘Regional Marks’ at University of Sunshine Coast, Maleny artist Fiona Dempster (ably assisted by fellow artist Barry Smith) treated a small crowd to a demonstration of the process of letterpress. Not for the fainthearted or mechanically challenged, letterpress printmaking requires a great deal of organisation, patience and skill, and if you are going to do public demonstrations, a strong person to help with some of the lifting.
Letterpress is a method of relief printing originating in the 15th Century, that gradually replaced hand scribes and illuminators, and made the written word available to the masses. Variations of the original letterpress machines were used up until the mid to late 20th century when offset, and then digital printing took over.
Lead or wooden metal type (individual letters – see above) are assembled to compose text and locked into place on a chase. The chase is placed into the press, a machine that transfers ink from the type onto paper.
Since letterpress has become mostly a thing of the past in the printing industry artist printmakers like Fiona are keeping the traditions alive and adding their own interpretations and creative skills to what was once a mundane occupation.
Fiona’s enthusiasm for the equipment and processes was delightful and infectious. It’s hard to fathom why we get so excited about messing around with metal and inks and heavy machines, but we do.
It was an informative and entertaining presentation that gave us deeper insights into Fiona’s letterpress works in the Regional Marks exhibition. Thanks Fiona.
Fiona’s demonstration is part of the region’s celebrations for the Print Council of Australia’s 50th birthday and Regional Marks.
Are you feeling a little overwhelmed by the pace? We can never get enough printmaking, so here are four events on round about NOW.
This Saturday at 11:30am is Meet the Artists of Regional Marks, the regional printmaking exhibition currently on at the USC Gallery. Join the curator and artists for a tour of the exhibition and gain an insight into printmaking from the exhibiting artists. At 10.30 before the artist talks you can join Fiona Dempster for a demonstration of letterpress printmaking.
And if you’re hungry for more, on your way to or from the university gallery call in to see the Maleny Printmakers exhibition at Beerwah.
Or, if you’re travelling a little further afield Toowoomba Staurday Printmakers have their exhibition open now at the Arts Centre in Toowoomba.