Wednesday, 9 March 2016

SGCI Themed Portfolio - An honour to be invited to participate.

Earlier this year I was invited to join a group of NZ printmakers in contributing towards a themed portfolio for the conference FLUXPortland hosted by SGCI (Southern Graphics Council International). The conference is being held in Portland, Oregon in March 30 - April 2, 2016.

I had no idea that such an organization could exist for printmakers and that there could possibly be conferences of this size (or any size actually) to promote and support the art of printmaking. My perspective obviously comes from living in this beautiful wee country at the bottom of the world, so far from everywhere else, where printmaking supplies are, at best, expensive and at worst, not available, except possibly on-line. (A recent trip to Spain (and the abundance of art stores) revealed to me the reality of our remoteness.)

So, what is a themed portfolio?
Each group has a curator who submitted a proposal describing how their group would create work to fit within the theme

F L U X :


Individually we each have to produce an edition of 20 prints (one for each person in the group + 3 for the SGCI archives + 3 spares for our own archives) which speak for our own personal view on the theme proposal.

As part of our proposal we are also producing an edition of 20 prints collaboratively. This edition of prints is posted from one artist to the next and each artist adds their contribution, responding to what has been done before. We have a fairly tight time-frame to work within in order to have our work completed in time for  shipping at the end of the year. With 14 printmakers working in a variety of media this project brings with it an instability and rate of unpredictable change which can be both exciting and nerve-wracking to be a part of. (My part is done, whew!) To follow the progress of our collaborative print you can visit the facebook page
"Aotearoa SGCI Themed Portfolio".

Collaborative print in progress - 6 printmakers
have contributed so far.

What have I been working on for the portfolio?
In this world of digital imaging where you can press a button and out pops any number of images from your home printer on to photographic paper, art papers or even fabric, it can be hard to comprehend the reality of what printmaking actually can entail and the amount of (literally) blood (spearing oneself on cutting blades), sweat (from the physical energy of cranking prints through a press - in my case repurposed mangle and homemade bookpress) and tears (of frustration when the best laid plans simply do not go to plan - was it the paper - too wet/ too dry, the ink, the plate, the pressure, ... or was it me?!) that are involved in the creation of an image.

 I also think that being blessed/cursed with a "perfectionism" trait
makes editioning all the more vexing.

So, to produce an edition of 20 prints I wanted to choose a process that would most likely give me repeatable results with, hopefully, the least stress and anguish. Linocut. Only I had never really done much at all with lino. Step 1 was to learn, experiment, "perfect" (yeah right) the skills needed. I started out with small blocks of lino and progressed to larger blocks as I developed skills and worked out techniques. Of course as the block grew in size so too did some of the technical issues associated with the printing of the blocks. My book press needed more pressure. My technician (Hubby) provided a new mechanism for achieving this - a large steel tube to apply more leverage with less chance of a hernia! Simple physics really.

You can see some of the prints I have been working on in this learning process in my previous blogs here.

I'm not quite ready to unveil my finished prints just yet. I have been working with an image that can be viewed from multiple orientations as part of the ideas raised by the theme, which leaves me with a quandary: how/ where do I sign them.... hmmm...

Works produced in the process of developing my techniques and ideas will be exhibited at my coming Waitakere Printers Ink group show at the Barrel Store, Corban Estate Arts Centre.

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