Saturday, August 29, 2015

A New Leaf

Memory #1, 2015, digital print, 29.5 x 22.5 cm 

Memory #2, 2015, digital print, 29.5 x 19.5 cm

Goldfields Printmakers, the regional printmaking group I belong to, have been invited to present a portfolio at the upcoming international print conference, IMPACT9, in China. The topic of this year’s conference is Printing in the Post-Print Age: Critical and Creative Methods in the Context of Contemporary Art and Society - in short, digital printmaking - which few of us, including myself, are entirely familiar with. After some trepidation, I decided to take on the challenge, using my iPad to make the works. Visitors to this blog and its sister blog, Moth Woman Press may be already aware of my occasional forays into iPad art, but this is the first time I’ve pushed it to this level.

It was decided that each of our group would make two works focusing primarily on China’s historic link to the Victorian Goldfields. To give the images in this post additional context, here is a slightly extended version of my artist statement:

There were virtually no Chinese women on the Australian Goldfields. For the thousands of Chinese men who flocked there, separation from their families was a cause of deep sadness. At the height of the gold rush, there were almost 3000 Chinese immigrants in the Victorian Goldfields town of Newstead alone. The forest floor is still pockmarked with holes, enduring evidence of its gold mining history.

The Eucalyptus leaves in these works were sourced in Newstead. The silhouettes are emblematic of the women the Chinese miners were forced to abandon, and in some cases would never see again.

In taking on this project, I sought a way of linking it to my own practice and some of the concerns it aims to address. The images are intended to suggest old photographs that are faded, scratched, creased or otherwise degraded by time.

Memory #1 and Memory #2, the digital prints pictured above, are the works that will travel to China.

19th century photograph of Chinese miners aboard a stagecoach, Newstead, Victoria 

As mentioned above, a selection of the Eucalyptus leaves gathered on my initial visit to Newstead were the basis for this project. Silhouettes of Chinese women were painted onto the leaves with drawing ink and black acrylic paint. These were photographed with my iPad, after which, successive layers were applied via numerous iPad apps, all of which needed to be capable of saving the images as high resolution files at 300 dpi.

Original artwork: ink and acrylic paint on Eucalyptus leaves

Memory #3, 2015, digital print, 29.5 x 22.5 cm 

Memory #4, 2015, digital print, 29.5 x 19.5 cm

Memory #5, 2015, digital print, 29.5 x 22.5 cm 

Memory #6, 2015, digital print, 29.5 x 22.5 cm 

Memory #7, 2015, digital print, 29.5 x 19.5 cm

Memory #8, 2015, digital print, 29.5 x 22.5 cm 

I was delighted with the print quality of my first efforts and look forward to further exploration of this exciting medium in the near future.