Friday, 29 January 2016

Summer School 2016 - Dianne Fogwell

I was lucky enough to attend the PCANZ's (Print Council Aotearoa New Zealand) Dianne Fogwell Summer School in Auckland this month. Dianne is a master printmaker from Australia and she is known for her incredibly fine and detailed lino cuts of flora and fauna, and her work as an artists's book practitioner, among many other talents. Visit her website here.

The Summer School was held over 3 full days at St Cuthberts School. We were introduced more closely to her work, and we marveled at the intricate detail and the use of multiple layers and perforations. I particularly enjoy hearing about an artist's inspirations and motivations in the creation of their work and Dianne is very generous in sharing her experiences and knowledge. Over the three days we looked at Structure: of creating books and works in various formats; at creating the lino block, including cutting techniques and etching with caustic; and Printing, including hand printing and how to set up the press.

Detail: lino print by Dianne Fogwell

Detail: lino print by Dianne Fogwell

As an artist's book practitioner Dianne came with a plethora of exemplars to share. I was inspired by her recommendations to consider what your intent is when you make a work, how you wish it to be "read" by your audience, and therefore what structure you might use to communicate this idea. (It might sound obvious but something in that discussion flipped a little switch in my brain and I had ideas streaming in from all directions.) 

Mini "Flag" book by Toni Hartill

Old Korean exercise book exemplar - so tactile
and responsive to being held and manipulated.

Having the opportunity to see Dianne's lino blocks up close was eye-opening. It's made me think completely differently about lino (in my very short career as a lino cut artist!) 

Lino print and lino block by Dianne Fogwell

    No. 1 lesson: you don't need to cut deeply at all! How freeing is that! and having the chance to play with Dianne's Micro Machine to cut the lino meant I was pretty happy with my little lino block. I never thought I would be able to cut something so finely. A whole new world of possibility!

Trigger fish lino block and print by Toni Hartill

Then there was the caustic etching - somewhat scary but again new possibilities. This can be used to create freer, more painterly effects which I look forward to experimenting with further. A group of us are planning on having a "Caustic Party" so we can supervise each other's safety, feel the fear, and do it anyway. 

On the last day we learnt about inking and printing techniques and, most informatively, about setting up the press. Dianne would repeatedly tell us to set things up so we can simply focus on our work. So true. Nothing worse than having technical problems which get in the way of creating. (I took on-board her advice for using runners, chocks and a pusher, instead of a blanket, and I am very pleased with the results.)

Dianne Fogwell demonstrates inking up my caustic-etched plate.

The afternoons were spent working on our own ideas. It was great spending time with other printmakers, many of whom are so highly talented and skilled in their own right.

Following the workshop I have been following through with just some of many ideas generated on the course, mainly printing my caustic-etched lino block to create wee artist's books inspired by diatoms, a type of phytoplankton.

Diatom inspired artist books by Toni Hartill

One of Dianne's key messages I took from the course was to do with "connectedness":

"Connect your body to your tool, your tool to your mark, 
your mark to your intention, 
your intention to you, 
and how you live in the world."

A big thank you to
members of PCANZ responsible for making this summer school happen.

And to Dianne Fogwell
for her generous spirit and inspirational manner
in sharing her limitless knowledge.