You might think that something called Raw Ink Magazine might be a publication about printmaking, or perhaps tattoos. Actually it is about neither of these, and yet both! Raw Ink Magazine is an online publication about everything creative going on in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, especially art, design and music. They are no flash in the pan, with this months issue (May 2013) being number 20! Arts journalist Ruth Dunn interviewed me recently. We talked about printmaking, walking, ecology, process and inspiration. You can see the results in issue 20 of Raw Ink Magazine.
Posts Tagged ‘walking’
I came across this delightful feature in a small creek in Royal National Park recently, just upstream from my camp. Royal is on the outskirts of Sydney and is Australias oldest, and the worlds second oldest National Park. With that deliciously dark hole, it will definitely be making an appearance in some prints sometime soon. I’ve been thinking of it as The Eye.
In between teaching days at the National Art School in Sydney, I’ve been doing some walking and camping, time on Sydney Beaches, seeing some shows etc. This weekend I have traveled to Canberra for a bit of time in the studios at Megalo. It’s a bit like a second home here at Megalo, since I am so familiar with the studio and presses. I’ve been taking advantage of the big Hilton electric press to make some more monotypes, with the imagery referring back to summer in Queensland. I’m thinking a whole new series might be nice, with the figure in the landscape being more explicit than some of my previous work. They always take a lot longer than I expect though. I only took two prints yesterday, and one at least should be trashed. I’ve been here several hours this morning, and only the above print has so far come off the press, but I’m reasonably happy with it. Bleed printed in a greenish black ink on a half sheet of Hahnemuhle (76 x 56 cm). Below is the second print from yesterday, showing how the drawing changes each time, especially since I am only working from a rough thumbnail drawing about one inch square, which itself was drawn from memory soon after visiting this creek in Mapleton National Park. What might be lost in faithful realism, is amply made up for by what is gained in the freedom to express a mood and sense of the place without feeling the need to copy a photographic reference.
It was a busy start to the year, and my internet connection at home is rather tenuous, and so I somehow neglected to blog about the very exciting news that I have acquired a small etching press. With assistance from the Australia Council for the Arts via an Artstart Grant, and the craftsmanship of Stephen, the press man at Melbourne Etching Supplies, my press arrived in early January.
Having a press now enlarges the range of techniques I can print at home to include intaglio methods such as etching and drypoint, as well as the type of monotypes with deep flat blacks that I like so much. While a two person job to lift with ease, the press is technically ‘portable’, so I will, if need arrises, be able to print ‘on the road’ or give workshops in a broader range of techniques in locations without access to a press.
The first print I made on the new press was the drypoint above, depicting a curious waterfall I recently visited in Conondale National Park. A day was spent exploring Peter’s Creek, upstream from Booloumba Falls, including this waterfall which plunges into hole about two meters across, with a very solid bedrock barrier between this turbulent, but out of sight, base of the falls and the large swimming hole in front of it. No hint of current or bubbles gives any indication of the necessary connection between the two. The maps I have give no name to this feature, but thought it deserved one, so Cauldron Falls it is.
As for the title of the print: So I Called it Cauldron Falls.
Walking in Conondale National Park recently, one of the many delights to be seen was the large flowers of Lacebark (Brachychiton discolour) trees, scattered on the forest floor. Lacebark are a large rainforest tree which at this time of year, along with their better known cousins the Flame Tree, are almost leafless but covered in spectacular flower. Being usually very tall and often emergent from the top of the canopy, it is quite difficult to see the flowers looking up into the tree, but they make an impressive display on the ground when they drop anyway. The underside of the flower was particularly inspiring with the contrasting dark and light pink, so a little ephemeral land art was in order.
A little later there was an even more spectacular carpeting of flowers beneath one of these forest giants, but it was time to push on with the days walk towards a swim at ‘Artist’s Cascades’.
I’ve made a new chalkboard which is a little more manoeuvrable than the last one on an old door. Today I made the first drawing on it and here it is. It depicts a scene inspired by my explorations in Wollemi National Park recently. Well, more than inspired by, it represents quite a specific spot. From Newness Campground, the main Pipeline Track led off downstream along the Wolgen River. I followed an unsigned side track, that led off through the ruins of what must have been the fancier houses attached to the old oil refining works. Now only sandstone chimneys remain, like strange trunks amongst the forest. The track dwindles, as it traces up a creek line which becomes increasingly densely forested, with high cliffs looming overhead on both sides. In parts the track becomes difficult to follow, but after tracing it up and down several times in the days I was there, I can confidently follow it to it’s end, which is the place depicted here. A truly magical spot, especially the first time you see it. The deep narrow gorge, filled with high forest, is rather dark, cool and calm, oblivious to the sun filled and windy weather above. Here the cliff on one side is particularly shear – glowing orange up above in the afternoon sun, but with a deep recess at the base. Carved over the ages, by the smallest of ephemeral watercourses, is a great tube-like, vertical chute. It carried no water on the day I was there, not even a dripping, but instead it shone a column of soft reflected light onto the circular, sand-filled depression at its base. In the gloom of the forest it was like an enchanted stage, lit at just this time of day, waiting for the arrival of some cosmic actor.
I have photographs, though none look anything like this drawing. It was one of those places that was too large, yet at the same time close and intimate, to capture in one frame. This chalkboard drawing is instead based on a pen drawing from my notebook, made on that first days visit. Even in my sketch, there was a figure at the base of the chute, although I was there alone. I’m not entirely sure why I inserted the figure, perhaps to help with scale, but when it came to doing the chalk drawing, I certainly wanted to retain it, something to make the image more lively, and excentuate that point of focus at the base of the chute. The figure I had drawn was a rather generic standing silhouette, and really not sufficient, so I started browsing books for another pose. I soon settled on the works of William Blake as a good point of departure. When I saw “Albion Worshiping Christ” I knew I had the right one.
Albion Worshiping Christ is one of the plates from Blake’s epic work Jerusalem , a book of 100 etched and hand coloured plates that took 16 years to produce. My drawing has omitted Christ, to be replaced by the wonders of nature, so it seemed a rather fitting choice. Of course my chalkboard drawing is only meant to be a temporary sketch, and the landscape elements did come fairly easily. The figure, however, was a labour. I re-did it many times, and also extra sketches on black paper. The more I worked on it, the less it looked like one of Blake’s cosmic men, and the more it looked like a distorted half man/half frog, perhaps by Francis Bacon! (I love the work of Francis Bacon by the way, but it really wasn’t what I was trying to achieve in this instance. I hope I get the chance to see the show on at Art Gallery of NSW) Eventually I stopped trying to force the figure into the particular scale and position where I though it should be, and instead let it and my hand have their way, and Albion came out twice as big, as he kept wanting to, over and over. He still took quite a bit of fiddling – perhaps I was trying to achieve too much with a piece of chalk and an eraser.
Once again it’s been a long time between posts. Lots has been happening since the last one, from teaching a wood engraving workshop with the Newcastle Printmakers Workshop, to Sydney and catching some of the Biennale. Then there was lots of time out in the bush, with plenty of walking and exploring and drawing. The above drawing was made in the majestic campground at Newnes, on the edge of Wollemi National Park, home of the rare Wollemi Pine. It was hard to stay focused on my drawing instead of watching the wombat wombling it’s way around camp, especially when it bumped into the big Goana making it’s way along the creek bank, but the shadows were changing fast as the sun rose and the frosty morning quickly turned to a hot day. From there it was a slow trip back to Queensland, via time in the Warrumbungles, the Pilliga Scrub and Mt Kaputar – all very different and fascinating in their own ways. Now it’s off out bush again, this time into the coastal forests between Grafton and Coffs Harbour, so posts will probably stay sparse for a while yet, but I’ll try and fill in the gaps with some more pictures soon.
This is the second of the wood engravings I have made in Fiskars, Finland. A group of nearby lakes forms the shape of an eye on the map, and is my favourite area to go walking. On my first visit there I was entranced by the light shinning behind this little tree filled islet. Placing the image in the centre of this elliptical block of apple wood, the whole image has become rather eye-like.
I also posted a photo of this little island a while back on Four Feet, our blog about the Fiskars Residency.