Wednesday, October 21, 2020

THINKING OF PLACE II - further travels

Today’s blog post brings news I’ve been remiss about sharing earlier: the group exhibition, THINKING OF PLACE II, originally conceived for the international print symposium IMPACT 10 in Santander, Spain in 2018, is currently on exhibit at Northsite Contemporary Arts in Cairns, Far North Queensland. The show opened in September and continues to November 7.

Prints being multiples, from today, October 21, and continuing to November 1, the exhibition will run concurrently at Arthaus Contemporary Gallery in Orakei, Auckland, New Zealand. For further information, visit the Facebook page of THINKING OF PLACE II HERE.

Yesterday a review of the exhibition by Ina Arraoui arrived in my inbox - an unexpected and delightful surprise. My contribution to the show, the phemograph Detritus, 2018, pictured above, is referenced in the review. Back in 2018, I was unable to travel to Santander for IMPACT 10. With continued travel restrictions, it’s possible I won’t even get to see the exhibition in any of its subsequent venues, so my thanks and gratitude are extended to Ina for giving many others in the same boat a very real sense of what THINKING OF PLACE II is about.

Ina Arraoui is a New Zealand-based print artist and curator. Her website is HERE.

The introductory paragraphs of Ina Arraoui’s review are directly below. To read the review in its entirety, click HERE


Although many of us envisage a physical geographical location when thinking of place, it’s more often than not a complex synthesis of feelings and memories that ultimately defines our relationship to a place. Printmaking artist and academic Monika Lukowska argues that notions of place are inseparable from the human experience, referencing geographer Yi-Fu Tuan’s theory of “topophilia” whereby place only comes into existence when meaning is attached to a certain location resulting from time spent between the person and the space (2018). The exhibition Thinking of Place II is an impressive cultural exchange project where over 60 artists from 9 printmaking collectives across 5 countries have been invited to make works exploring questions of place. Artists were encouraged to reflect on the relationship between place, memory and time, using a range of traditional and contemporary printmaking processes and techniques, resulting in a rich and engaging conversation, as diverse in perspectives as in the collection’s visual presentation. 

Background to the project

Thinking of Place was initially conceived as a cultural exchange project between five artist groups from New Zealand and Australia. Members of each group had met at the IMPACT 8 Conference in Dundee, Scotland, instantly striking a lasting friendship and giving birth to a trans Tasman collaborative print project.  After a successful first edition of the exchange, which was exhibited in each of the host cities, the organisers decided to continue the momentum with a second iteration of the project to be exhibited at IMPACT 10. In the spirit of the printmaking community, which is marked by a distinctly inclusive, collaborative approach, the project expanded to include four more groups from Canada, Ireland and the UK.  Whether a group is based on a shared geographical location or print studio, each one is committed to advancing printmaking and supporting artists working in print-based media. Collaborative projects such as Thinking of Place give printmakers the opportunity to not only exhibit their work on the international stage but to foster professional and personal connections across the printmaking community, globally. Participating artists have been selected by each group either by invitation or open call. 

Read on HERE.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

New adventures in printmaking: craft presses

Back in May, during the first period of lockdown, I purchased the craft press shown here. Since then, I’ve been predominantly focused on painting and drawing and it’s only recently that I’ve had the chance to try it out.  

Essentially the press is an embossing and die-cutting machine, but it can also be utilised for small scale relief, monotype and intaglio prints. Our two etching presses have been in storage since last year’s move, and due to insufficient studio space, they are likely to remain there for some time yet. Meanwhile, there’s a small project I’ve been keen to undertake, as well as an accumulation of previously carved lino blocks that I’ve never even proofed.

I first became aware of the existence of craft presses via the Instagram page of Margate-based linocut artist, Nick Morley, AKA Linocut Boy. Long haul visitors to this blog might remember that he featured some of my work in his book, Linocut for Artists & Designers (2016). When lockdown was first introduced in the UK, Nick reported on Instagram that he’d resorted to working at home in his attic with only the the most basic of materials and something called an X-Cut. I had no idea what this was and it piqued my curiosity. Some online searching revealed it to be what is regarded as the Rolls Royce of craft presses. Aside from its sleek good looks, the X-Cut has the benefit of a dial at the top that enables change of pressure, a feature that’s generally lacking in similar presses. Unfortunately, my searches also revealed the X-Cut to be by far the priciest of craft presses - considerably more so with the added cost of international shipping. As it turns out, they are also the hardest to come by, particularly in this part of the world. If you are fortunate enough to track down an X-Cut, however, I recommend Annie Day’s informative article, Making prints with an x cut XPRESS Craft Machine in Creative Printmaking Workshops on her website, Printmaking SistersHERE

Further investigation led me to the Facebook page Craft Press Printmakers, which has close to five and a half thousand members. There I learned that most brands do a good job even without adjustable pressure - it’s simply a matter of experimentation with the amount of backing material used. Armed with the knowledge gleaned from there, I set out to order a press of my own. I was fortunate to find one on an Australian site, CraftOnline. It was very reasonably priced at $165.00, including shipping. (The price has since been further reduced). The press is designed for printing on up to A4-sized paper and even has a dial on the left side that enables adjustment of pressure. It’s an ideal size for small spaces like my current studio. Don’t be fooled by its kitschy brand name, Poppy Crafts, or its plastic construction and tizzy colour scheme. In my first efforts, printing initially from the old block pictured below, I’ve achieved infinitely more satisfying results and with far greater ease than with either of our etching presses. 

Click on images for a clearer view. An update on the Poppy Crafts press will follow in the near future.

Pictured above: Wallpaper Rose, the Disappearing Woman, linocut, 15 x 10 cm.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Now we are three

Today is Alice’s third birthday. That makes it nearly three years since Shane made the famous pronouncement, “I don’t want another cat, Deb.” And we know how that turned out.

Happy Birthday, Alice! 

Friday, October 2, 2020

For RBG 1933-2020

Lace collars have been a recurring part of my personal iconography for over two decades. The works featured here and several others not pictured were made at different times and in varying contexts. Art is often prescient, however. Nowadays I can’t look at any of them without thinking of “The Notorious RGB”. It feels as if they were always about her, even before I was aware of her existence. The late Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s iconic collection of collars were more than mere fashion accessories. Through them, she staked her claim on a traditionally male garment and at the same time, feminized it. 

The wider significance of her collars is detailed in Vanessa Friedman’s article, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Lace Collar Wasn’t an Accessory, It Was a Gauntlet, The New York Times, first published September 20, 2020:

When he was commissioned to design a visual tribute to RGB for the front cover of THE NEW YORKER, October 5, 2020, illustrator Bob Starke created the following work:

For background information on the illustration, read  Bob Starke’s “Icons” by Francoise Mouly, THE NEW YORKER, September 23, 2020 here:

Pictured above:

Remnants, 1999, acrylic on two canvases, 75.5 x 12.5 cm (top), 12.5 x 12.5 cm


Icons, Rob Starke, cover illustration, THE NEW YORKER, October 5, 2020

Pictured below:

Regeneration, 2020linocut in progress, lino block 42.5 x 26.5 cm

Anonyme, 1998, linocut printed from three blocks on Japanese mending tissue, 73 x 62 cm

Untitled, 1998, linocut printed from two blocks on Japanese mending tissue, 73 x 62 cm

Coil, 2001, acrylic on seven canvases, 60 x 55.5 cm

Still Life with Lace collar, 2001, acrylic on three canvases (detail) 131.5 x 40.5 cm

Page from an Album, 2000, linocut printed from three blocks on Japanese mending tissue, 63 x 74 cm 

Lace, 2000, acrylic on two canvases, 23.5 x 30 cm (upper) 20 x 25 cm (lower)

Web, 20002020, acrylic on 4 canvases, 35 x 25 cm 

For more about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, go here:

The acclaimed documentary, RBG, 2018, is also highly recommended:

The trailer for RBG is here:

R.I.P., RBG. Long may your legacy continue.