Monday, December 12, 2016

Investigating the Gorge Part 3

Artist in Residence, Cataract Gorge, Launceston, Tasmania

I've spent a few days at the Kings Bridge Cottage printing monotypes using leaves I've picked up during my walks during the gorge.  The prints I've done are fairly formulaic for me, but its like therapy and its been interesting having to work with limited materials.  I only brought a basic selection of colours of inks - yellow, ochre, blue, red, black, brown and white - so its been a challenge to find the 'right' combinations.  I dislike using colours straight from the tube, so I'm always mixing or toning them down a bit so they're not so bright.

In my studio, I use an etching press for my monoprints (except when I do gelatine monoprinting).  I have a table top press that prints A4 but its pretty heavy and takes up a small suitcase on its own, without all the associated consumables like inks.  So for this trip, I invested in a Xpress die-cut machine after getting a lead from the facebook group 'Top Printmaking Tips'.  For more information about the machine:

Using the Xpress die-cut machine, I was able to print my small collagraphs and monoprints.

I also purchased some lovely paper from the local Birchalls store at a bargain price, though I had to fold it to fit it in my backpack so I could ride home with it.  It was almost painful to fold a beautiful A1 sheet!

I've really enjoyed my 2 weeks at Cataract Gorge, the mix of urban and natural areas was very interesting and fits perfectly with my themes of the urbanisation of the natural world.  This site is particularly interesting due to its history and the manipulation of the landscape since the late 1800's. Its also been refreshing to be away from my daily routine, to wake up in the morning with very little planned except to walk, ride, read and create.  Heaven!

Printing in the cottage's kitchen with the Xpress Diecut Machine

Monoprint in progress

I donated an artwork to the Cottage,
this one's a monoprint using Dogwood leaves
found on the Duck Reach Walk

I found some fresh Kangaroo Grass but it was too green and fleshy to use.
Here it is squished on the plate after the first print.
The Kangaroo Grass at home in Queensland is dry and easy to work with.

Monoprint using local grasses

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Investigating the Gorge Part 2

Artist in Residence, Cataract Gorge, Launceston, Tasmania

Its the second week of my residency, and I've become familiar with the gorge, its flora and fauna, the people and the CBD of Launceston.  Walking and riding my bike are my only way of exploring the area, and luckily the weather has been mild and quite sunny.

My days have been spent walking through the gorge, then returning to the cottage to work on my art.  I also have joined the LINC library so I can research the history of the gorge and the cottage.  At the library I found an interesting book 'Paper Tiger' by Carol Freeman which looks at how colonial imagery of the Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger) contributed to its elimination by humans and eventual extinction.  Its given me a few ideas about how visual imagery can impact on the lives of animals and plants.

At the Queen Victoria Art Gallery in Launceston CBD I viewed an exhibition of etchings and linos by Udo Sellbach.  The distorted human imagery in his work is quite confronting, but I was impressed by his artist book "And still I see it", displayed alongside a digitised version of the book I could view with a touch screen.

I've got a few artwork ideas that I'm working on based on my residency.  One of the major projects is an artist book, inspired by Udo Sellbach's book.  My artist book will use the polaroid photos that I've been taking as I've explored the gorge, looking at both natural and man-made features, for example, the rocks, the river, signage, rubbish, graffiti and people. I also plan to include text from heritage reports and newspaper articles that I've found at the library.  I've got some wonderful scans of a report on the 1929 floods, the language used in the report is quite poetic with flowery descriptions, not as formal as we would expect from documents produced by current government committees or tribunals.

I've also been creating a series of collagraph plates using ferns I've found on my walks.  I've glued the plant material to mat board, and sealed them with a few coats of shellac.  I plan to print these plates in groups, using a variety of colours.

I've got a few more days left here at the Cottage, then we head off to Hobart and Bruny Island for another week.  Of course, there'll be more time for art and exploring the local natural environment.

One of my small collagraphs

My inspiration wall is growing, you can see all the polaroid
photos there - recording my experiences of the gorge area.
These will be the basis for my artist book.

Artist Book "And still I see it" (with digitised version) at Udo Sellbach's exhibition

One of the page spreads from the digitised version of Sellbach's book,
I used the touch screen to 'turn' the pages and zoom in to read the text.

This swan family is a regular visitor to the gorge

Views over the gorge, on one of my walks

Sigh....the view from the cottage balcony

The cottage at dusk, looking up from the track

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Investigating the Gorge

Artist in Residence, Cataract Gorge, Launceston

I've been here now for 4 days and have started to settle into a routine, where I'm exploring the gorge and nearby Launceston.

Tourist boats regularly pass by the cottage on their way up the Gorge.
I've discovered I'm quite camera-shy, as everyone on board is armed
with carmeras aimed at the cottage.
I wonder what they would think if I gave them a 'queen' wave
from the balcony.....

Peacocks are one of the introduced species in the gorge around the
Basin area.  They're a big tourist drawcard - I wonder if they're
'heritage' listed due to their historical links to the gardens?

I thought the rear view was just as impressive!

I'm getting around town on my bike,
here I am at the Art Gallery.
The awesome display of birds and mammals at the Museum.
I love that the taxidermied fauna aren't locked away in a
glass cabinet.  They're displayed on multiple levels, making
a very vibrant and active display.
One of my projects during the residency is documenting the gorge
and cottage with my mini polaroid camera.  It's a different mode of working,
as there's no zoom, no digital displays, and I have to wait for my
photo to develop. The photos are awesomely moody and a bit unpredictable.

This is my 'inspiration' wall (on the old fireplace) where
I'm gathering objects, photos, postcards, artwork so far etc.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Artist in Residence @ Cataract Gorge, Tasmania

For the next two weeks, I'm Artist in Residence at Cataract Gorge in Launceston, Tasmania.

I'm staying in the historical Kings Bridge Cottage, built in 1890 for the gorge Caretaker. The cottage is situated at one end of the gorge, clinging to the side of steep cliffs, close to the busy Kings Bridge that its named after.

After the last caretaker left in 1980, the cottage was used for educational purposes but during periods of unoccupation it was neglected.  The cottage was converted for use for the Launceston City Council's Artist in Residence program in the 1990's, and has been in use as such ever since.

I did some research at the Launceston Library (LINC) today and learnt that the first Artist in Residence in 1993 was landscape and environmental artist John Wolseley.  This was a real surprise and pleased me to know that I'm following in his footsteps!

This arts residency is a mix of urban and natural environments.  Cataract Gorge is located within a few kilometres of the centre of town, and the gorge itself has been heavily modified by humans since the late 1800's.  The dramatic natural gorge elements of river, cliffs and basin have been modified with exotic plants and fauna, as well as buildings, chairlift, pool, bridges and concrete paths.

On my walks through the gorge,  I've been able to spend time examining the landscape around me, trying to discover what is 'natural' or the original vegetation and what is exotic or 'feral'. This is the basis of the artwork I'll be working on during my stay, which fits with my themes of the urbanisation of natural spaces.

My suitcase of art materials weighed just over 20kgs and includes supplies for making collagraphs, drypoint etchings and monoprints.  I flew with Virgin Airlines and pre-bought the extra luggage allowance for $70 return, worth every cent!

I'll be blogging a few times in the next couple of weeks about my AIR progress and artworks I'm working on.  I've only been here one day and I'm relaxing into a routine that takes me away from the daily grind (and heat) of my home studio.  I'm excited to see what happens with my artwork with plenty of time and space to focus on my creativity, with the added discipline of limited art materials...!

 Kings Bridge Cottage in Cataract Gorge.

The pedestrian walkway passes directly under the patio of
the cottage.  The proximity of people to where I'm working reminds me
of my AIR in the Valley Mall earlier this year, except this time
I can see people and they don't see me unless they look up!
The very un-ergonomic stairs that I had to drag my
suitcases up to the cottage.  

Walking the Zig-Zag track, lots of she-oaks.

The historical Suspension Bridge.

These are the concrete paths along the gorge edge,
built in the early 1900's when they
were less environmentally conscious than today,
but it does provide good access to the gorge for everyone.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

But wait.... there's more......wren monoprints

Yesterday I was playing around with my little wren stencil, this time printing on postcard sized papers.  Simple and fun to print, these wren monoprints will make great Christmas presents and stock for my outlets.

I used four colours - black, aqua, brown, and dark purple.  The process of printing the monotypes mixes these colours to create hybrids and plenty of interest.  Some of the printmaking papers I used were beige coloured which also tones the ink colours in the print.

All papers were soaked for 10 seconds and worked with damp.

When I have a printing session, I like to stick with the same colours and objects for the whole day.  I just play around with composition and the order of colours, letting the objects and plate mix the ink to create complexity of marks and colour.  That's where the magic happens, even in something as simple as this wren series.

Some of these wren prints will be framed in cute aqua frames I found at a home decorating store, others in basic beige frames.  I bought the frames first, then sized the print papers to fit.  I find that's the most economical way to work as framing can be so expensive.

An afternoon of printing...lots of little wren prints

One of my favourites... I love the whispy effect of the
Kangaroo Grass

This one is pretty interesting too....

One of the first prints, not as much detail,
but a greater intensity of colour

This one will need more work - I think the wren blends into
the background too much.  When the print is dry,  I'll use a fine coloured
marker to trace around the wren to bring him back into focus.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Kamikoya - making paper the traditional japanese way

I've just returned from 2 weeks in Japan (my 6th trip!).  This trip was focussing on paper, paper, and more paper.......

I engaged Phil and Kazuko from the boutique tour company ShumiStay (on facebook 'Shumi Stay Japan') to take myself and fellow Papermakers to explore traditional Japanese hand papermaking techniques.

The highlight of our trip was a 2 day workshop at Kamikoya ( with Rogier Uitenboogaart and his family.  During the trip we also visited paper museums and shops and villages specialising in papermaking.

We returned home with hand made papers of Kozo and Mitsumata fibers, and a firm resolve to incorporate more traditional and more organic processes into our papermaking practices.

All decked out in our papermaking uniforms -
heavy plastic aprons and gum boots.

Beating the fibres by hand -
its all about rhythm and trying not to
splatter your fellow papermakers with fibre!

Stirring the vat, there's a special technique for that too.

Rogier guiding me through forming a sheet.
It was challenging but a great experience.
The happy group at the end of the workshop, with
Rogier and his wife and son.

Rogier with his assistant Michael.
Thanks guys!

Papers drying on boards.  It rained most of the time we were at Kamikoya
so the papers had to be posted to us a week later.

My futon bed at our traditional accommodation
onsite at Kamikoya.
Some of the local scenery, misty with rain.  The bright
green area in the foreground is rice ready to harvest.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Wren Monoprints

Last weekend, I had the luxury of spending a few hours monoprinting at the Toowoomba Art Society with members of the Saturday Printmakers.

Using some wren stencils from a previous series, I created a small series of monoprints with a circle shaped plate and a few plant materials including some Shephards's Purse weed.

I titled the works 'In My Garden'.  Its a bit of wishful thinking, as I unfortunately don't have wrens in my garden, but really wish I did!

Below are photos of a selection of the series of 9 prints.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Replicating a Monoprint

Back in January, I blogged about a series of monoprints for an exhibition "Women of Substance", see my post here.  The seven monoprints that I created for the exhibition and folio boxes are all sold or accounted for, the remaining print was a gift to my mother, who was the subject of the print.

I was recently asked whether I had any more of these prints, perhaps an artists proof. Sadly with monoprints, there are no artists proofs (or test prints or the first prints in an edition). Every print is a unique print, some work and some don't.  And the variable 'edition' is as many prints as I wish to make in that series.

Hence, to fulfil the commission, for the first time I needed to replicate my monoprint.

Luckily I found where I had stored my stencils, and because I blogged about the print, I had great documentation about my colours and what objects I used.

But the process was still a challenge, and the monoprints that I've produced in this second run are different from the first run.  There are subtle differences in how I mixed the colours and how I applied the ink and the objects.

The mysterious and free process of monoprinting has many rewards and I never know what the outcome will be even when I'm repeating a print process like this.  Below are 3 of the 10 prints in this new series.  There are another six that I rejected...maybe they will be the content for an artist book someday....nothing is ever wasted!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Artist in Residence at The Pod

During the month of August, I was given the opportunity by Brisbane City Council to be artist in residence in 'The Pod' in the Brunswick Street Mall in Brisbane's valley area.

The Pod is an open studio space in a refurbished shipping container, designed for occupation by artists etc, to help activate the mall.

The busy, noisy urban environment was a big change from my home studio in my backyard, but I enjoyed the constant stimulation of watching the various types of people in the mall.  There were tourists casually walking, school girls passing through at 3.15pm, swearing teenagers eating McDonalds, office people and of course, many people who looked like they'd had a hard and difficult life.

During my residency I started work on a series of drawings of urban birds on takeaway brown paper bags.  The patterns of the drawings were directly sourced from the mall buildings and infrastructure, such as pipes, facades, pit covers, seats, and sculptures.

I also ran daily free activities for the public, making a stab bound notebook and carving an easy relief block.  These were very popular, I had approximately 80 participants over the 15 days.  As the activities were free, I was able to share my art with a broader audience than usual, which I really enjoyed.

Patterns on a sculpture, this pattern
was incorporated into my drawings

My favourite pattern on a roof in nearby Chinatown Mall

Drawing onto my paper bags

Drawing in progress

Here I am outside The Pod, as Artist in Residence

Activity time, lots of keen participants