Monday, June 24, 2024

Cutting through time

A belated post on last Friday’s memorable visit to Cutting Through TimeCressida Campbell, Margaret Preston, and the Japanese Print at Geelong Gallery. In conversation before a packed audience, Senior Curator Lisa Sullivan and Roger Butler, Emeritus Curator of Australian Prints and Drawings at the National Gallery of Australia, discussed the prints of Margaret Preston and the influence of Japanese prints on her work. Roger wrote the catalogue raisonné on Preston’s prints (1987, revised 2005) and his knowledge of, and contribution to, Australian printmaking is immeasurable.

I first met Roger in the mid 1980s when I was the Administrative Assistant at the Print Council of Australia, so we go back a long way. But long before we met, Roger had already had a profound influence on my life, because he also wrote the catalogue essay for the Art Gallery of Ballarat publication Melbourne Linocuts and Woodcuts of the 1920s and 1930s (1981). As art school undergraduates, we were given very little instruction on relief printmaking and I taught myself to make linocuts primarily through studying examples in the catalogue. It was my bible, and even now, it’s never far from my sight. 

Roger served as president of the PCA from 1986-1990 and was editor of their quarterly journal IMPRINT from 1987-95. It’s always such a delight to catch up with him, although nowadays it doesn’t happen often enough.

Currently Geelong Gallery is printmaking nirvana, with three major exhibitions focusing on prints. Aside from Cutting Through Time, there is The O’Donohue and Kiss Gift (which will feature in my next post), and Dianne Fogwell’s epic multi-layered, multi-panelled relief print installation, Presciencepart of which is pictured below.

The exhibitions all run to 28 July and really need to be seen in the flesh. They shouldn’t be missed. 

Photo credit top image: Kate Gorringe-Smith.

Images 2-6: Margaret Preston: Installation view, Anemones, 1925, Fuchsia and balsam, 1928, Protea, 1925, Flannel flowers, 1929. (Hand-coloured woodcuts). 

Images 7-8: Cressida Campbell: Journey around my room, 2019 and Interior with Chinese Lantern, 2018. (Painted woodblocks). 

Images 9-10: Dianne Fogwell, Prescience (Multi-panelled relief print. Installation views).