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.