How does your work address the theme ‘to the edges’?
At first glance my large triptych Ubud Bali and the smaller series of works Snapshots seem to be about the beauty of a place I love dearly. Bali often referred to as the island of the gods is considered a paradise by many, but beyond the lush tropical landscapes and incredible natural beauty of Bali is a troubling reality. Tourism over the past decades has grown so rapidly that many overwhelming problems prevail. Pollution chokes the ocean with rubbish and raw sewage washing up on the beaches. Bad traffic jams are an everyday problem where there are simply to many cars on the existing roadways often resulting in gridlock and sometimes fatal accidents. Many of the tourists are oblivious to the island’s rich culture and history and think of Bali purely as a party destination. High rise buildings and urban sprawl dominate areas that were once humble fishing villages stretching the limits of existing infrastructure. As the world struggles with the Covid 19 pandemic and travel is limited tourists have abandoned Bali almost completely leaving the local community without a way to make a living resulting in great hardship experienced by all. Also Indonesia and Bali are suffering some of the highest Covid 19 infections rates worldwide with inadequate hospitals to treat the sick. As beautiful as Bali still is it is definitely a place pushed to the edges.
Can you describe the technical process you went through to achieve the finished work and what technical challenges you encountered along the way?
The large triptych is done utilising my photographs on photopolymer plates (solarplates) and inking those plates up meticulously with different colours employing the à la poupée technique. I use small paintbrushes to apply the inks and very carefully wipe back the plates to achieve the required effect. Then I hand colour the prints using watercolour pencils and paints.
The smaller works are a series of images attempting to tell a story of what Bali means to me. You will see rice paddy fields, palm trees, a temple, daily offerings left out on the street, a Barong statue, a Ganesh the elephant god statue, a Bali dog lying in the sun, a warung, fishing boats, motorbikes and some local children. I have again used photopolymer plates to create the prints, but also I started experimenting with cyanotypes which is an alternative photographic process first discovered in the early 1800s. I added a little bit of hand colouring in some of the smaller works, but generally these are less laboured compared to my usual prints.
What do you see as the role of Sydney Printmakers for the next 60 years?
It is an incredible feat for Sydney Printmakers to have been active for 60 years. We are a diverse group of artists constantly busy organising exhibitions with an aim to promote printmaking nationally and internationally. We have achieved a great deal in that time and I hope Sydney Printmakers continues to be strong into the future involving a younger generation to carry on for another 60 years and more.
How do you see the role of printmaking, in general, contributing to the conversation about contemporary art practice?
Sydney Printmakers formed in 1961 to address the concerns of artists that printmaking at the time was being neglected and overlooked. The group’s aim was to strongly promote printmaking in general as did the Print Council of Australia that was established in Melbourne around the same time. Today printmaking is strong and continues to play a vital role in the art and culture of our age.