The Maleny Printmakers ‘Collectables 2022’ has been and gone – it is always a delightful little exhibition of small prints 13.5 x 11.5 cms in size and has a good following. This year it was at Munnimbah-dja an indigenous run gallery in the ‘little red house’ in the Forest Heart nursery grounds at Maleny.
I went to the opening, then I was on duty for two days – but I must have talked too much so didn’t get around to taking photographs. At the last minute I quickly took at least one image of each artists work – and apologies to our two guest printmakers as somehow in my haste I missed theirs. The photos were not great as the prints are in protective cellophane envelopes which allow our buyers to flick through them without any damage but also tends to reflect light. I’d basically taken the pics for my own records, but when I had another look, I was somewhat intrigued by the diversity of techniques used in the few I had selected.
From the more straightforward traditional techniques there were relief and intaglio prints; with a lithographic heritage there were polyester plate prints; and there were also gelli plate prints, cyanotypes and collagraphs.
Relief prints are prints where the ink on the surface of the block is what is transferred to the paper. It is a simple process used in lino and woodclock prints – and even potato or polystyrene prints. Megan Lee’s Banksia is a classic lino print with stark contrast between paper and ink. Julie Hanrahan is well known for her bird and floral prints and lovely sense of design. Julie uses watercolour to add colour to her black line linoprints. Both Jason Murphy and Kim Herringe have used multiblock printing methods. I don’t know if Jason’s is a lino or a wood cut, but Kim Herringe is a whizz at linocut so her’s is most probably a three block lino print where she has used a different block for each colour, however she has been experimenting with paper plates, so I might be wrong.
Jillian Bergman and my own intaglio plates were made from thin sheets of aluminium and etched in a copper sulphate and salt solution. It is a process that suits those that like to draw and both of our prints are line drawings. Of course, there are many other things that can be done with an aluminium plate to add tones, but we have kept things simple. Karen Shaw’s print is a drypoint etching which is made by incising the image onto a clear ‘plastic’ plate, and this results in a very delicate line for her little orchids.
Jacky Lowry almost always works with collagraphs involving plant matter – leaves, flowers etc. Many of the plants were found on her own property. Collagraphs can be relief, intaglio or somewhere in between, but do need a press to obtain a clear image. The blue in this Collectable of Jacky’s was painted on after the print dried.
POLYESTER PLATE LITHOGRAPHY
Jenni Matthews uses polyester plates for her images. I know very little about the process (despite Jenni trying to explain it to me) except that the papers are paper thin and the process depends on oil repelling water. I gather it is a type of modern day lithograpy. She certainly gets nice results from it. I tend to like garment prints and often do them myself. I also have fond memories of the Pumicestone Passage (between Bribie Island and the mainland), and as this was a variable edition I now own a blue version of Bribie Island Dress.
Cyanotype is a very old process – but also popular with many current artists, including the Maleny Printmakers. There were probably some pure cyanotype prints, but the ones above use combinations of media. Cholena is well known for her cyanotypes – often quite large and incorporating acrylic paint and ochre and sometimes sticks and pottery. In the above small print she used an eco print and exposed her cyanotype on top of that. The eco print gives the sepia tones, and the cyanotype the blue hue. Neville has used cyanotype as a background for his linoprint birds, and Noela has added a curved piece of copper wire to her Scribbly Gum print. I too couldn’t leave my print as a pure cyanotype one, so have used handstitching to fill in the background behind Percy the penguin.
Gelli prints probably stem from monotype prints and have become very popular in the last few years. I thought this was a particularly elegant print with the elusive body shape and the imprint of the maidenhair fern.
The above is just a summary of some of the processes used, but I am sure there were others that I missed. The nice thing about printmaking is that there is always something new to try.