Southern Printmakers Association
The Peacock Gallery in Auburn is the perfect venue for this event as the focus of the group concentrated on the Auburn Botanic Gardens and Duck River. The gallery sits within this area with easy access to the gardens, water features (small lakes with fountains), walkways, ornamental bridges and native flora and fauna.
In all there were 39 prints, all but 2 being framed wall pieces. The others consisted of a hanging fabric, several metres long, printed with a variable but repeated eucalyptus tree pattern and a kimono with the same patterning but a different colourway.
Techniques covered quite a range: several linocuts (including reduction printing), some lovely etchings, relief prints (no further details given), dry point, solar plate etching, collagraphs, woodblocks and stencils.
I was very struck by the dynamism of the single layer linocut piece pictured here. Entitled In the Mountain Tangle the artist, Julianne Smart, has produced an excellent balance of positive and negative space and some effective directional carving. It looks like there is some shading in the carved areas to the right but that’s not the case. This illusion is caused by the change in size (ie. moving to a smaller finer tool) of cuts and their close proximity in this area.
Another linocut work I admired was made by Mei Zhao. I know Mei quite well but haven’t seen much in the way of linocut work from her before. Her focus is usually on acid etching, which is something I have yet to try.
This print, entitled Backyard, is a 4 layer multi-block print around 30cm square. The colour mix has produced a vibrant effect, almost luminous in parts, with well placed shadows adding significantly to the outcome. Her colour palette, excluding the black, has been formed using reduced saturated hues and here and there are tiny glimpses of the white paper base.
Mei is an enthusiastic and experienced printmaker and works as a graphic designer in life. I’ve seen a significant amount of her work and she has a sharp eye for detail and composition.
Margot Rushton created a stunning piece entitled Palm Dates. The catalogue declares it as an aluminium etching. It is with huge regret that the aluminium etching class I was due to attend last week was cancelled so unfortunately I haven’t experienced this myself yet.
However, Margot has produced this wonderful small piece using a severely reduced colour palette and subtle colour changes throughout. I should have bought it.
One or two of the pieces displayed didn’t attract me but overall it was an excellent display of prints showcasing some diverse techniques. Having read the bios of many of the members they mostly have formal qualifications, usually degrees, in printmaking, fine arts, painting or related fields and many of the members have taught (or still do) for many years and have their own art practice.