Wednesday, 19 July 2017

My 3D rockpool for Boundless Printmaking exhibition - the making of.

The making of a 3D rockpool by Toni Hartill.

Creating a larger, more refined 3D rockpool had been on my to-do list for a couple of years and I had ambitions to complete it in time to enter into "Boundless - Beyond the Frame", a printmaking exhibition organized by PCANZ (Print Council of Aotearoa New Zealand) and judged by Dr Carole Shepheard. The initial exhibition was to be held at Pataka Art + Museum, Porirua, New Zealand: 20 May - 13 August, 2017. From there it will move to Aratoi Museum of Art and History, Masterton for 16 September until late November, 2017. And finally it will travel to the Waikato Museum, 4 May til 15 July, 2018.

"Sea Nest" by Toni Hartill
My earlier 3D rockpool.
This is a project that evolved from an earlier, smaller rockpool and I felt like I had unfinished business, to push my idea further. There were a great many stages and this is often what puts me off such a project - I have big ideas that then require a lot of planning and experimentation and then I doubt myself and.... well, often projects are set aside to languish in drawers perhaps until I get "brave" again and steel myself to have faith that it WILL work, probably, maybe... or not.

In the end I did manage to plod on to see this project through to a finished piece and I was very pleased, honoured and relieved, when it was accepted in to the exhibition. The minute a work is completed and couriered off to its destination its so easy to forget the many hours and steps it took to create so here is a pictorial short version of the process showing most, but not all, of the steps.

A lengthy drawing and planning process

Cutting tools used included gouges, dremel and knife.

Testing progress by doing regular pencil rubbings.

Inking up for the first proofing - exciting!

First proof, checking details.

Creating colour and pattern under-layers using
lino blocks and acetate stencils.

The deep teal rockpool lino block is printed over the under-layers.

The final black lino block is printed.

Detail of rockpool final print.

The backs of each print is inked with multiple layers of black.

Cutting and assemblage - nerve-wracking!

Final gluing - no turning back!

Glued and clamped.

Multiple crocheted supports were constructed til the fit was just right.

The finished crocheted support ready to attach.

Final fitting.

Creating a box to transport it safely was a sculptural 
project in itself.

All set to go!

"There be Treasure" linocut by Toni Hartill

"There be Treasure" detail, linocut by Toni Hartill

 Artist Statement: Pop-up theatres, shoe-box dioramas and press-and-fold paper toys all spark the nostalgia of childhood memories, of the magic of taking a two dimensional image and transforming it into a three dimensional "world". Through a combination of techniques including monotype, caustic etch, linocut, and old-school paper craft, I venture to reignite the viewer's magical childhood powers of imagination to step through the looking glass and enter the Lilliputian world of this rocky pool.

A 2d image holds the viewer at arm's length, as a spectator, viewing the work from a single perspective. Transforming the image into 3 dimensions the viewer's perception and involvement changes. The transition becomes easier, for the viewer, to cross the divide between impartial spectator and engaged participant as they alter position to peer into the depths to see what is hidden and to view the changing vista.

Inspired by the natural environment I am drawn to look for beauty in unexpected places and I endeavour to draw the viewer in to share in my experiences. My often visited theme of rockpools stems from my fascination since childhood of these mini microcosms abundant along our shores, each one unique in its inhabitants and ecology, tiny treasure chests of the sea.

Participants in the Boundless exhibition at Pataka Art + Museum, 2017.

Boundless - Beyond the Frame
printmaking exhibition at Pataka Art + Museum, 2017.

Thank you for visiting.

I hope this gives you an insight into the many hours of work that an artwork can entail. 
What you don't see here are the many hours of experiments and tangents one goes on in trying to work out how to proceed next. 

Hmmm... now what am I working on next? 


  1. Wow, that's dedication. Fantastic result. Good for you sticking to it till the end.

    1. Thanks, yes, I'd be disappointed in myself if I hadn't stuck with it, like all those other projects that don't quite get finished. Just as well we had plenty of warning for the Boundless deadline.


I'd love to hear your feedback or comments. Thanks for visiting! Please remember to credit when sharing or using any of my images or information.