How does your work address the theme ‘to the edges’?
Consisting of six connecting panels, each one complete also in its own right, this work is thematically concerned with edges. Titled Rainforest Meets the Sea connects my current environment: a narrow coastal strip at the edge of the Royal National Park, nestled under the Illawarra Escarpment to the South Coast of NSW. My home and studio adjoin remains of subtropical rainforest with a short walk to the ocean. Here the edges of the land meet the sea, feeding into the concept of To the Edges.
Always living next to large bodies of water and in bushland, I inhabit and respond to natural elemental environments. The ambience of the natural elements reaffirms my research into the philosophy of the Five Elements as interpreted in Tibetan Buddhism and takes my work to the edges of Eastern philosophy and Western art. This was further explored in my Master of Philosophy degree completed at ANU in 2020.
Can you describe the technical process you went through to achieve the finished work and what technical challenges you encountered along the way?
For this project I pushed my printmaking to the edges of becoming a painting by including a few of the mediums that I employ when painting: watercolour, collage and encaustic wax. Starting with washes of watercolour, I then printed collograph shapes reminiscent of sea weeds or tree trunks, next I tore my etchings into evocative shapes suggestive of deep-sea creatures or rainforest forms and collaged them into the work. This was followed by painting a series of white spheres and ovals to add connecting sparks of light in each panel.
I love using encaustic wax when painting, however a challenge in applying it to paper is that it becomes partly absorbed while using a heat gun to spread the wax and thus changes the tone of the paper. Firstly, I stabilized the paper by gluing it to well-sealed boards and defined the shapes that I wanted to remain white by applying white paint to those areas. eg: the white spheres. This incurs another small challenge: painting white on white paper, makes it hard to evaluate the spatial depth of the work … until the wax is burned in. The whole process is labour intensive and the encaustic wax is toxic, so it involves wearing a protective mask. However, the resulting smooth protective coating produces a beautiful luminous quality to the work.
What do you see as the role of Sydney Printmakers for the next 60 years?
I see the Sydney Printmakers continuing as a platform for members to exhibit and embracing new members and methods of print and supporting change.
How do you see the role of printmaking, in general, contributing to the conversation about contemporary art practice?
Printmaking will always be a part of contemporary art practice as an embedded tradition constantly changing to accommodate new approaches and media.