This is the final post from the Burnie Print Prize.
Rust, Blood, Gold and Cyanide
Woodcut, rust prints on kozo.
In 2019 I completed a short residency at Karangahake on the North Island of New Zealand. The ruins of the goldmine, especially the Victoria Battery (which processed the ore to enable extraction of gold) were like a grim monument to the labour of the many men and women who lived, worked and died there: the huge steel hoppers which once held the ore were now merely rusted remnants, and the grey concrete arches which once supported the cones now empty colonnades, and sudden shafts of bright light pierce the shattered roof of the building. The river below the Battery no longer runs blue with cyanide.
The local graveyards tell the stories of men killed in mine accidents.
“Silent Falls, Carrington”
Stone Lithograph and Chine Collé on Kitakata Handmade Japanese Paper
2020. 52 x 43 cm
“Silent Falls, Carrington” derives from local waterfalls in and around Budderoo National Park NSW, an area I’ve been revisiting to walk and draw. The falls are mesmerising and ever changing by the second while constant in their continuous flow. It’s the place I spent the last day of bushwalking together with my elderly parents in 2017. They instilled in me a love of land, quiet reflection and admiration for the details of nature. As with many of my landscapes, I feel there are opposing forces at play, balancing the complex and the simple, the sensitive and the bold, intimacy and grandeur, the inside world of personal sentiments and the outside world of nature’s rawness.
For me, with stone lithography there is a flow between the process, materials and image making. It’s very tactile, sensory and requires awareness. The materials have a history, the stone has had a life before you existed, there’s a sensitivity with marks and meditation in the pace of working. Lithography offers me a very direct way of making painterly marks within printmaking and carries with it a rich gamut of tones and textures such as reticulated washes which mirror forms also present in nature.
Seong Cho Windy Hill
This work is entitled, ‘Windy Hill’ and is a woodblock print. It is an abstract expression of the movement of wind through the air and natural landscape. I produced this work during my time at the Art Print Residence in Spain in March 2020, while I was in isolation at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe.
I was inspired to create this work by the strong spring winds as they moved through the grass and over the hills of Catalonia. The abstract shapes and lines in this work are also a metaphorical representation of life’s journey, where we are often swept up in events, ideas and experiences that are beyond our control, as if we are a leaf being blown along by the wind. Sometimes the metaphorical winds of life may take us to beautiful places, sometimes to dark crevasses or perhaps beyond the clouds, but the unexpected journey is what makes life worthwhile.
My art practice explores human interaction with the urban environment. The menacing impact of industry and impending development is a constant themein my images. Nuclear Family is a social narrative of vanishing suburbia. The image relies on a ‘play on words’ – the dual meaning of ‘nuclear’ allows a disquieting image to masquerade as family intimacy. The urban landscape has been compromised to accommodate progress and as a result society co exists with the ever increasing by products of progress. The family unit stands proudly in the front of their home. The image of the ‘Great Australian Dream’ exudes safety and familiarity but all is not perfect. Nuclear Family is an image of contrasts, a ‘snap shot’ of modern society living under the threat of industrial overload.
9 layered woodblock prints in three panels
83 x195 cm framed
Mangrove ecosystems are critical to our shorelines. They form a buffer between land and water, providing protection from erosion and filtering runoff. They are primary sea life nurseries and host a myriad of creatures essential to the health of shorelines. They are highly efficient carbon sinks. Chronic pressures on these environments from land clearing, the use of herbicides and pesticides, global warming and associated drought and severe storms are endangering them with potentially catastrophic consequences for the health of land and sea and ultimately humans.
I spent time working with a citizens’ science project that monitors the mangrove forests of the Daintree in far North Queensland. I had the privilege of venturing into a terrain where humans do not routinely go and to viscerally experience an environment of gritty beauty and intricate interrelationships. This work is one of a series of works I made in response to the mystery, majesty and fragility of these forests. The damage caused to this environment is ongoing and palpable. I wanted to capture both the sense of threat and the beautiful fragility that I witnessed.
“Impact” explores personal emotive interpretations of the landscape affected by climate change. Within this work the impact of climate creates an awareness in which humanity must start noticing changes like fire storms resulting in a land ravaged by extremes. The cross in the center draws attention to the damage that occurs on the land. Many of my recent works examine these extreme weather events. The depiction of the landscape affected by changes to our climate draw on an expressive approach as the images rely on memory, experiences and recent events.
Laura Stark, Pathways VI 6th State, collagraph, blind embossing, collage.
Pathways VI 6th State is the last image of this series of prints originally inspired by the markings left by larvae on scribbly gums. It refers to the ancient pathways or dreamtime tracks of the aborigines across the continent, the breadth of our landscape as seen from the air, and also the internal and external pathways or meanderings which we follow in the path of life.
In this series my procedure was to change, manipulate or reduce the plate from which they were printed in a number of different ways. This last version, a collage of print remnants, encompasses the original theme but the pathways have become more tenuous, even fractured, perhaps an indication of uncertain times.
Here’s the next Sydney Printmaker who is a finalist in the Burnie Print Prize.
Ring Reader: Hossawa to the Sea
(Unique-state woodblock & copperplate relief print, collage & embossing, 2020).
Hossawa is a Hinohara-area waterfall on the mountainous Tokyo-Yamanashi border, its waters feeding Akigawa River, in turn Tama River, Tokyo Bay, and finally the sea. The experience of the locale feeds into and informs my studio activity, having spent two-plus decades living there.
Countless hours spent exploring its cedar & pine-clad inclines on scooter and on foot make for indelible impressions, its maple, camelia, azalea & hydrangea groves amplifying the marked seasonal changes with bursts of colour.
The work’s bell-like ovoid forms have been hand-printed directly from prepared cedar log-end offcuts sourced from mountainside outposts. Their pronounced granular striations, carrying a record of the summer-winter growth alternations over many years, make for a kind of logbook in more senses than one.
Seismic-prone, being awoken by tremors & shakes in the early hours is part of the fabric of the everyday there. The collage-aesthetic employed here, with its capacity for fissure, juxtaposition, and also containment, lends itself well to addressing such kinds of dislocation.
Most of us can’t get down to Burnie to see the works in the Print Prize this time. I will be publishing as many of the successful Sydney Printmakers works as I can here, together with the artists statements where available.
Anna Russell, Voyagers, woodblock, stencil, collage, 55×58 USP 2019
This is a whale’s eye view of voyaging from the harshness of the Antarctic to the warmth of calm subtropical waters, the land appearing from time to time on the horizon. The voyage depends on successful avoidance of the land in an ocean of distracting sounds.
Tensions in this work suggest navigation into the unknown, facing risk, bracing for the unexpected. Safe harbours are hard to find. We’ve made progress internationally in saving whales from slaughter but they still live with hazards we have created.
Meanwhile we have our own voyage into the unknown as the climate changes. Can our work with the whales show us how to act collectively, to make order and balance out of the chaos of our current consuming?