Monday, 16 October 2017

First Impressions III: National Printmaking Exhibition

Exhibition opened Wednesday 4th October, 2017
On show until Friday 20th October.

This is the third "First Impressions" exhibition and the second time I have taken part. The previous time I entered was in October 2013, when I was very new to printmaking. This time I had two works selected. 

These works were something of a trial to create in that I had decided that I was going to push my comfort boundaries to create works that are bigger than I have previously worked in printmaking, and involved multiple experimental processes. I didn't have a particular image in mind from the start (a very new way for me to work), just a sense of trying to capture a place, (a real place: Karangahake Mountain), from my mind's eye and the accompanying emotion to communicate the message I was seeking to convey. 

This theme came about as a result of another research-based project I have been involved with this year and which I will write about at a later date although this link will provide some context for my inspiration and why it has moved me to create this work. If you would like to add your voice to this very real and current concern, please visit the link to Protect Karangahake.

Working to this size is now possible because I bought a larger press! This one is actually a "real" etching press which allows me to do things I can't do with my mangle - a) because its bigger! and b) because the rollers can be raised or lowered, allowing for finer control of pressure. (This does not mean I will be parting with my beloved mangle any time soon though... just in case you were wondering.)

I worked on 4 prints simultaneously, building layers and responding to the marks as they were appearing. By working on 4 sheets of paper I was more able to be patient and to not overwork one piece for too long in a session. I was stressing the paper progressively by applying multiple layers of inks which needed time to be absorbed by the paper and so needed to dry between layers. As I discovered in a previous trial print, too much ink and the paper would stick to the printing matrix and begin to delaminate! It was a very fine line! It was constantly possible that I could ruin the image for any of a number of reasons, at any time. I worked hard to try to feel the fear and just go for it! Each print went through the press at least a dozen times. 

I used a combination of collograph plates, caustic etched lino plates, lino cut textures and monotype processes. The result is a more painterly approach to printmaking, a direction I have been endeavouring to explore for a while now and which I will continue to develop. I especially enjoy the effects that can be achieved with many layers of translucent inks creating a variety of sheens across the surfaces. They really need to be viewed up close to be able to see all the textures, colours and layers. It was therefore great that this exhibition stipulated for unframed works although photographing the works was a real challenge. As printmakers know, it can be very frustrating  peering at a print under glass, trying to decipher what the processes may include.

Below are my two entries to the exhibition. 
There was a LOT of dithering, (one of my greatest talents)
trying to decide which of the four prints I should enter.

"Tears of Hinemuri - When is enough enough?"
Monotype, collograph, linocut by Toni Hartill, unique.

"Tears of Hinemuri - When is enough enough?"
Monotype, collograph, linocut by Toni Hartill, unique (detail)

"Tears of Hinemuri - When is enough enough?"
Monotype, collograph, linocut by Toni Hartill, unique (detail)

"Tears of Hinemuri - (When) is it too late?"
Monotype, collograph, linocut by Toni Hartill, unique

"Tears of Hinemuri - (When) is it too late?"
Monotype, collograph, linocut by Toni Hartill, unique

"Tears of Hinemuri - (When) is it too late?"
Monotype, collograph, linocut by Toni Hartill, unique

My statement for both works

Ohinemuri is the river, Karangahake is the mountain. The people of Karangahake are fighting for their mountain’s protection from mining, again. This is conservation land that is still recovering from the goldmining of the last century when the government declared the river a “sludge canal”. The river and the mountain are under renewed threat as New Talisman Gold Mines have consent to sample mine and are doing so right now. We do not need to search far to find many rivers and many mountains that are under similar, or worse, stresses.

According to Maori legends many of our nation’s rivers were formed from the tears of ancestors. These tears are joined by the tears of many as our waterways are continually under stress despite the cry that enough is enough.

Inspired by trying to capture the emotion of the tears, these images are built up from many, many layers of texture and colour, each layer responding to the layer before, each layer a risk-taking moment where full control is not possible due to the nature of the processes. How much ink can the paper absorb? How much stress can the paper endure? How do I know when to stop? How much is too much?

When is enough enough? 

(When) is it too late? 

Following are imagesof the exhibition in the two gallery spaces.
Steve Lovett and Emma McLellan were on the selection panel 
and the winning works were judged by Dr Carole Shepheard. 

There were 70 works entered and 49 works exhibited.

Premier Winner: Jacqueline Aust
Merit Award winners: Suzette van Dorsser and Hamish Oakley-Brown.

The exhibition is hosted by Mairangi Arts Centre and runs until Friday October 20th.

                                                                                        Photo supplied by MAC

Below is a video provided by Mairangi Arts Centre. 
It shows an overview of the exhibition.

To hang these works we were required to attach paper tabs to the backs of the works. 
I explain how I did it HERE.

Hmmm, now where to present the other two prints?

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Permanent Exhibition Space for Studio Printmakers at the Lake House, Takapuna

As members of Studio Printmakers Celia Walker and I are currently exhibiting a small selection of works in the Tindall Hallway at the Lake House Arts Centre in Takapuna until October 28th.

Studio Printmakers is a collective of practicing printmakers who share the use of the onsite print studio at the Lake House for working on personal projects and as a communal place to gather to exchange ideas, attend workshops, organize exhibitions and meet visiting local and international printmakers and tutors. To find more out about Studio Printmakers visit the website HERE. New members are always welcome.

The Lake House Arts Centre recently approached our members and offered us the use of the Tindall Hallway to use as a permanent exhibition space for revolving monthly exhibitions. This is not an opportunity that comes up often, if ever, so we were more than keen to leap at the invitation. A small group of us donned our painting clothes and gave the space a spruce up armed with sandpaper, filler and paint.

The Tindall Hallway gets a spruce up!

The first two printmakers to exhibit were Vivien Davimes and Lianne Timlin setting the bar high with their beautifully presented works.

Celia Walker and I were next. We have both hung a selection of past works. Celia’s profile and more of her work can be viewed on the Studio Printmakers website HERE.

Artworks by Celia Walker

Artworks by Toni Hartill (2 at left), and Celia Walker.

I chose to exhibit a selection of my rock pool images, created over the last 4 years and ranging from drypoint, to four-block woodcuts and my more recent linocuts. This is the only time these have been shown together and, I think, it is interesting to see how I have approached the same subject matter with different techniques for varying effects. Its also interesting to look back on "old" works.

“On display here is a series of works exploring rockpools, a favourite theme revisited over recent years. Inspired by the concept of falling “down the rabbit hole” as in Alice in Wonderland, nostalgic memories of rock pooling in childhood, and the engagement of a wandering imagination, Toni toys with the idea of what it might be like to enter into the miniature world of a rock pool. Are we, the viewer, looking in or looking out? Are we off on a new adventure or are we hiding from the world?”

Artworks by Toni Hartill (near).

We will take our work down on the 28th October and the next two printmakers will install their works. With over 30 current active Studio Printmakers members I’m sure this space will be put to good use and will be well worth stopping in to take a look at each time you are passing by. There is talk that we will use the space also to display collaborative, experimental and in-progress projects.

To find out more about the Lake House Arts Centre 
and where it is located visit their website HERE.

Please share this info so it becomes widely known 
as a place to pop in to see what’s happening next! 

And to support our printmakers. 

Works are for sale via the adjacent gallery shop.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Boundless - Printmaking Beyond the Frame - An update

A reminder that this show is still on at 

26 November 2017.

I have not been able to see the exhibition in person yet as it has been down country but I hope to catch it when it travels to the Waikato Museum 4 May - 15 July, 2018. In the meantime I was given a copy of the beautiful catalogue for the exhibition, in the weekend. It is a wonderful record of the show and a chance to read more about each of the works. It also includes the introduction by selector Dr Carole Shepheard.

My 3D linocut rockpool "There Be Treasure" 
was selected to be in this show. 
You can read more about the process of making this, 
and the exhibition, 
in a previous blog HERE.

"There Be Treasure"
Linocut, Toni Hartill

Monday, 25 September 2017

Adding TABS to unframed artworks on paper

Having recently entered a selected art exhibition, a new quandary came up for me and it appears I'm not alone in this. We are required to supply our work to the show, unframed, with paper tabs attached for hanging... without damaging the work. After a couple of tests I have now made and attached the tabs and so thought I would share what I have done in case you too are wondering how to do this.

This is just my way of doing this - by no means an "official" or "approved" technique. 
Seems to have worked okay, thankfully! Whew! So far, so good!

I used Hahnemuhle Sumi-E rice paper to make the tabs as it is a strong but lightweight paper.
Cut 2 strips 10cm x 3cm. (The work I am hanging is 61cm x 40cm).

Fold the strip down leaving 2cm overlap.

Now, fold the doubled-up section in half onto itself. 

With the top section folded down, mark centre lines.

Punch a hole through all layers.

Using minimal cornflour paste, glue the folded section down.
Here's my recipe for cornflour paste which is archival and very quick and easy to make.

Put a weight on the tabs and leave them to dry flat.

Glue two tabs at the top of  the artwork, lining the fold on the tab up with the top of the work.

Weight all the tabs down to dry flat.

The tabs can be either unfolded and sit ABOVE the top of the artwork or they can be folded DOWN and remain invisible. This is my preferred option. Being unsure what the curators' intentions are in hanging the show I decided to allow for flexibility. The tabs can be cut down or could be gently soaked off if they need to be removed.

You could alternatively use purchased archival 
however, as this is not a regular requirement for me, 
I didn't want the extra cost. 

I'm keen to hear of any alternate ways to do this 
so please comment below. 

I'd love to hear from you!

Cornflour Paste Recipe

Cornflour paste is acid free, and very cheap and super quick to make. Great for chine colle or sizing papers. 

To make: 

In a small saucepan:
1tsp cornflour to 3 desert spoons of water.
Mix well and add 3 more desert spoons of water.
Stir over heat for 2 mins til “cream” becomes a thin “custard”.

(Can be cooked in a microwave 1 min, stir every 6 secs).

Use less water for sticking down prints, more for pasting chine colle or sizing paper.

I store a batch in a small face cream pottle. 
Best stored in the fridge to help it last longer. Lasts about a week.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Honour Ring Circular Print Project

Honour Ring is a collaborative print project organised by the Franklin Print Collective, bringing together emerging and established artists from around New Zealand by making circular print works about the things they honour. It was on at the Franklin Arts Centre in Pukekohe from 8 - 24th July and presented a wonderful and inspiring collection of works.

This was a project I couldn't let pass by without participating as both the format and theme appealed to me. Many thanks to Esther Hansen, Vicki Moore-Allen and Jude Gordon for dreaming up this project and making it happen. It is due to travel on to Christchurch, New Zealand.

Designing an image.

I chose to honour "community" as my theme as, to me, it is such an important concept to nurture in the world, be it family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues, ...  print groups and organisations... without community we are but an island.... (hmmm now there's an idea for another work.) I used my beloved subject matter of a rockpool to illustrate this.

Carving the "key" block of lino, this is 1 of 3 blocks used.

 I have only been doing linocuts on and off for about 2 - 3 years now and so I know I have so much to learn. So, again, as in each project I take on, I set myself a goal of pushing myself to raise the bar on what I've achieved previously. In this project I wanted to further test how much detail I could include and successfully carve. I also wanted to challenge myself with producing an edition using multiple blocks that would require a more accurate registration system than my "by eye and hope for the best" technique of old. For this I devised my own pin and tab set up, much the same as the Ternes-Burton Pins but made using cut down flat-head nails, a  strip of plexi-plate and tabs made from acetate. 

There were many other questions I had along the way which I tussled with until I had a satisfactory answer such as: How do you transfer an image onto the lino so it remains crisp and clear while you carve? 

The completed "key" block.

Testing colours, making corrections.

Printing an edition - first colour.

Second colour is added.

Third and final colour, phew.

As always the final image evolves in unexpected ways as process and technique steer me in directions which I may or may not have anticipated. That first print reveal is always a MOST exciting moment as the heart literally flutters in anticipation - I kid you not, either I get very excited or I have a heart condition!

"Together we are an Ocean" Linocut by Toni Hartill
Paper size: A3, Edition of 5, $160 each.

What do I honour?
I honour the strength that comes from “community”, in all its many forms.
We have one world, we need to get along – strong communities nurture balance and harmony in a fragile world.
"Individually we are one drop. Together we are an ocean." Ryunosuke Satoro

Rockpool linocut, early proof by Toni Hartill

A lesson to be learnt, perhaps: 

In the process of working on this image I began with a certain idea in my head about how I wanted the final image to look and with the pre-planned intention of creating the image from layering 3 separate lino blocks. For this reason I didn't want the key block, the darkest and final block, to be too busy or it wouldn't allow room for the other colours to create the illusion of depth or shadow. So, when I initially proofed the key block, I felt it was too busy and so I went on to cut away the design, especially on the outer ring. 

I only wish I had taken more prints from the block at this stage because, in retrospect, I actually really like the effect of this initial print. It feels really solid and... rocky. I try to be responsive to my work as it progresses and to seize on happy accidents, as and when they evolve. In this case I was focused on trying to achieve a pre-determined effect and so lost sight of the possibility of what was actually in front of me. I would still go on, in this case to strive to achieve the effect I was after in the end BUT I wish I had recognized the merits of the image in the early stages and taken a detour to print an edition. As this realisation dawned on me, albeit a bit further down the track, I did print a couple of other editions of the image, one of just the key block outline, a much simpler and cleaner image and a second colour version where I put more colour and texture back into the outer ring by applying the ink in a sort of circular rainbow roll effect. I can easily look at any of the versions of prints and see things I like and things I would change but all in all its been another great learning experience. Below is a gif showing the various versions of the image as it developed over time. 

If you are interested in purchasing any of these prints please contact me directly and follow my facebook page for updates of when and where the exhibition travels to in Christchurch.

Thanks  for visiting!

Friday, 28 July 2017

"From the Rivers to the Shore" - a print project highlighting migratory birds.

Linocut by Toni Hartill
Edition of 15


"Ngunguru Sandspit is an area of significant cultural and ecological value and includes coastal and estuarine environments. It is home to multiple species of threatened flora and fauna and many migratory birds including the Poaka or Pied Stilt. The spit itself was recently at threat of development until the majority of it was secured by the Crown for the public. There is an ongoing threat that the remainder of the Ngunguru Sandspit area could still be developed so it is in everyone’s interest to honour, support and treasure this precious coastal area for future generations." artist statement: Toni Hartill

The Brief:

" "From the Rivers to the Shore" is a collaborative project bringing together artists from the North and South Islands, connecting through bird migrations to local experiences of environment and ecology. Numerous threatened bird species that breed in fragile areas such as the braided river beds and estuaries of the South Island to warmer areas in the north, and parts of Australia. This project aims to use multiple views of the birds, habitats and migration experiences to draw attention to the threats and challenges that these species face." Celia Walker.

When I was invited to take part in this project by printmaker Celia Walker, I wanted to choose a particular location that I had a personal connection with and to use it as an opportunity to highlight the particular challenges that the site and its natural flora and fauna have to contend with, including as a stop over for the many migratory birds that pass on through. 

"Ngunguru" by Toni Hartill
Edition of 15.

It was an easy choice to focus on "Ngunguru", a coastal spit and estuarine settlement about 20 minutes drive north of Whangarei as it is where my brother lives and we are very familiar and connected to the whole area. Through this project I hope that perhaps people might search Ngunguru on google earth to find out where it is and  to find out about its interesting and valuable history. Perhaps they might take a moment, while on holiday, to look more closely and to think about some of the issues facing the area, and how they, personally, might have an impact on the environment, for good or for bad.

First things first though: how to pronounce the name correctly, click HERE.

By the way, 
Ngunguru means to make a continued dull sound, growl (suppressed), grunt, rumble.
A perfect example of onomatopoeia don't you think!

Site of urupa on Ngunguru Sandspit.

Within Ngunguru Sandspit are sites of  historical and cultural significance including midden, a battle field, urupa (burial site) and a pa (fortified settlement).

"Ngunguru" detail by Toni Hartill
Site of urupa, and raised sandbank with oystercatcher birds. (Look closely!)

  I chose to focus my attention on the elegant Poaka or Pied Stilt, a bird which is common in coastal areas and wetlands throughout New Zealand and is often seen alongside Oystercatchers, a real favourite of mine for their comical and cheeky behaviour and rich black and red colouring.

"Ngunguru" detail by Toni Hartill
Poaka - Pied Stilt

I also wanted to reference the mangroves and the tidal nature of the estuary.

"Ngunguru", detail by Toni Hartill

As referred to in my artist statement Ngunguru Sandspit was very much under threat of development as has been the fate of so many of our coastal environments. To read a timeline of the events that finally lead to the announcement in August 2011 that the Crown had secured most of the sandspit for the public click HERE.

For more information:

Many people care for and seek to protect the Ngunguru environment and can be connected with through websites and facebook pages eg.

To see lots of beautiful photography and to get a real insight 
into the flora and fauna of the area go to 
the facebook page of NZ diver, writer, researcher Wade Doak 
and explore through his photo albums.

To read more about the Poaka of Ngunguru, by Wade Doak visit HERE.

For an informative educational document all about the estuaries of Northland:
"Northland's Coast and Us - Our Estuaries"

Exhibition installation at 

Opens Saturday July 29th 2-3.30pm

The Depot Artspace, Devonport, Auckland, NZ

From the Rivers to the Shore was exhibited at 
Arts in Oxford gallery in Canterbury: 10th of June - 18th of July 2017; 

Opens at
The Depot Artspace in Devonport, Auckland: 29th of July - 16th of August 2017

Moves to:
 No. 1 Parnell gallery in Rawene, Northland: 2nd September - 13 October, 2017.


On Sunday August 16th I presented a printmaking demo at The Depot Artspace, sharing some of the ways I use a Dremel tool in my work, among other things. It was very well attended by a mix of beginners and seasoned printmakers and there were plenty of questions to keep me on my toes. Although I was initially somewhat "freaked" at the thought of standing up in front of so many people, of unknown expertise, I soon found my groove and the hour and a half flew by. Judging by the many questions and the people that stayed on afterwards to quiz me further, it was well received.

"Ngunguru" by Toni Hartill
Edition of 15

Thanks for visiting!

Hope you can now pin-point Ngunguru on the map 
and that you get to enjoy 
its natural beauty 
for always!