The Printmakers

A group exhibition featuring the diversity of artistic approaches to printmaking and the roles of mentoring and guidance for emerging, new or established printmakers.

Opening Saturday 25th June at 2pm by Professor Margo Neale, Principal Indigenous Advisor and Senior Curator, National Museum of Australia.
Exhibition runs until 3 August, 2011

The exhibition will feature work from 3 prominent printmakers. Each artist selecting an emerging or associate printmaker that the artist has mentored or in some way offered assistance to the development of that artist’s journey in printmaking.

Pamela Griffith, Theo Tremblay, Robyn Collier, Nic Nicola, Glen Mackie, Tess Barker

The Printmakers exhibition came about from several coincidental and unrelated ideas and happenings in and around the Gallery over the last year: the presence of Master printmaker Theo Tremblay on one of his flying visits to his second home of Bungendore from Cairns; the recent return to Canberra by printmaker Robyn Collier from British Columbia and her desire to again exhibit with the Gallery; and regular visits by myself to the very busy Griffith Studio and Graphic Workshop of the Gallery’s longest standing visual artist, Pamela Griffith.

 Together the three artists represent everything that is good about printmaking in Australia. All three are long standing and highly accomplished exhibitors at the Gallery. And very importantly they are all educators as well as artists who are all are committed to passing on their knowledge to students and emerging artists of all ages. Theo’s specialisation both academically and practically is with Indigenous Australian and Torres Strait Islander artists, hence the ideal location for his Editions Tremblay studio/workshop in Far North Queensland. Pamela conducts workshops throughout Australia on a regular basis and Robyn has divided her time between teaching in Western Canada and Australia.

With that in mind the idea of three Master printmakers exhibiting with one of their mentored, emerging and young artists became almost a natural progression of thought. Theo’s choice of Yam Islander Glen Mackie, provides an opportunity for the Gallery to present the visually stunning stories presented by Glen in his relief prints steeped in his cultural background. Theo considers Glen as among the top three Torres Strait Islander printmakers with Dennis Nona and Alick Tipoti: High praise indeed.

Pamela Griffith’s associate for this exhibition Nicholas Nicola, is a calm, unassuming and affable artist with a deep sensitivity to the Australian landscape and an artist who is humbled by the deeply spiritual relationship between Aboriginal Australians and their land that they refer to as “mother”. The interaction between Nic and Glen’s approach to the representation of the land will be evident in both their works on exhibit and in their, at times, “in common” aesthetic thinking, when the two artists meet here at the Gallery.

Robyn Collier’s long association with the Gallery has given rise to five previous solo exhibitions that have covered her long career in printmaking, including a retrospective exhibition that realised numerous sales from the floor of our Octagon ArtSpace while we were sorting out the works for exhibition. Dividing her time between Canberra and Canada has left little time to form substantial mentor relationships with young emerging printmakers in Canberra. Enter Tess Barker who joined the staff of the Gallery some 12 months ago coming to us as a recent arts and education graduate and dedicated printmaker. Tess has had a fairly rapid rise to success when she collected 2nd prize in the emerging artist youth section of the prestigious Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize Award, at the Art Gallery of South Australia. Robyn’s ethereal muted etchings are an ideal contrast to Tess’s richly coloured and mono-toned depictions of Australian flora and fauna. The two artists have been meeting on common grounds such as the Megalo Print Workshop in Canberra and at Robyn’s home studio in preparation for the exhibition.

All six artists in this exhibition are printmakers, teachers and people sensitive to their natural surroundings and the multi-cultural character of this great country. All acknowledge the priceless value of collaboration and learning from each other, and all will present work of exceptional quality and diversity that will make this one of the standout printmaking exhibitions in the Gallery’s near 30 year history.

Stan d’Argeavel MA(VA) Exhibition Coordinator

Pamela Griffith

Pamela Griffith is a well-known and popular Australian artist. Her talent is multi-faceted with a broad approach to both subject matter and art medium ranging through portraiture, drawings, landscape and still life. Above all, her art reflects a love for the history, landscape, flora and fauna of Australia. A prolific artist in the print medium over the past thirty years Pamela has produced over 300 editions from her Griffith Studio and Graphic Workshop. These are primarily etchings, but also include lithographs and woodblocks.

Pamela co-designed her studio’s pneumatic press, heater and aquatint loom and believes that art should be available for everyone. Among her many publicly acclaimed projects was the design of the artwork on the decorative fabrics (toiles) to commemorate the Australian bicentenary and the beatification of Saint (then Mother) Mary MacKillop. The Australian National Gallery has a complete set of her proofs.

Nic Nicola

Many of Nic’s prints derive from an intense interest in the Australian bush. He is still very much in the process of comprehending the natural elements of this ancient continent. Acknowledging that he is depicting the topography previously occupied by the ‘first Australians’, he also admits to only having a dimly perceived appreciation of the Aboriginal artists’ far more mature and astute understanding of the landscape.

Nic also sees a cosmological link between land and sky and space adding the concept of ‘father’ to his acceptance of the Indigenous view of the land as ‘mother’. Working almost exclusively in the 6 x 4 inch format and often combining drypoint, sugarlift and aquatint on the same etched plate, Nic believes it is up to the imagination of the printmaker to use any method of leaving marks suitable for the artist’s purposes of image-making.

Robyn Collier

Born in Sydney, Robyn moved to British Columbia and in 1979 received a Bachelor of Education Degree. She studied Renaissance art in Europe, and moved to the Queen Charlotte Islands, Canada, teaching native Haida children and adult printmaking at night. In Vancouver she began the theory portion of her post-graduate degree, with an art major. After completing research in Australia, she was awarded a Master of Arts Degree, from the University of British Columbia in 1995. Robyn is a relief teacher in the ACT and has been a member of the Studio One Print workshop (now Megalo Arts) since 1987.

Robyn’s work ideologically and physically spans her two familiar continental influences from the waters that pervades both Western Canada and Eastern Australia. Her information rich etchings are often adorned with embossing, engraving, solar plate, hand colouring, copper and gold leaf to depict her chosen subjects.

Tess Barker

Tess recently completed a double degree in Teaching and Fine Art (Honours) at Newcastle University. She is a printmaker working in linocut and is drawn towards the depiction of Australian flora and fauna. She had the opportunity to document the beauty of the Ku-ring-gai National Park while growing up in the Pittwater area of Sydney.

Tess has worked and exhibited in galleries in Newcastle and Sydney and is one of Bungendore Wood Works Gallery’s customer service representatives. Her framed linocut print, Protea: New and Spent Bud was awarded second prize in the youth art section for emerging artists at the 2010 Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize. Her finely executed relief images both in monotone and in brilliant colouring are indicative of her chosen subjects and display a level of confidence and maturity not often found in such a young artist.

Theo Tremblay

Master printer Theo Tremblay is a pioneer of collaborative printmaking and publishing and the mentoring of Aboriginal and Zenadh Kes (Torres Strait) artists in a range of print mediums. He completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Boston Museum School then studied drawing and printmaking at Oxford University, where he was also a founding member of the Oxford Printmakers Co-op.

Theo specialises in etching, lithography, relief printing, monoprint and screenprinting. His and many other artist’s works created in the Editions Tremblay NFP workshops have been acquired by major galleries and museums in Australia and internationally. In 1995 Theo earned a Canberra Times Critics Circle Award and a citation from Mick Dodson of the National Council for Reconciliation in the same year. Theo continues his essential mentoring work with printmakers including Glen Mackie from his new studio/workshop in the Canopy Arts Complex in Cairns.

Glen Mackie

Glen originates from Yam Island in the central Torres Strait group and is now resident in Cairns. He was taught to carve and paint by members of his extended family. Glen’s mission is to keep alive the sacred stories, myths and legends of his people, and he does this through his beautifully intricate and deeply detailed relief prints. He features the motifs and totems of his father and mother, the Kursi (Hammerhead Shark – which he has adopted as his own) and Kodal (the Crocodile) in many of his works, with the highly decorative, visually stunning and detailed symbols telling the story he is portraying.

Glen finds ‘Vinylcut’ a more versatile medium than ‘Linocut’ as it allows him to achieve an amazing degree of accuracy and density in his prints, all printed from a single pass through the press.

Wednesday 06 April 2011