17 April 2013

Press Wanted for Pinehurst School

The art teachers at Pinehurst School in Auckland
are wanting to acquire a quality second-hand A3 printing press
so they can teach more printmaking!

If anyone knows of a press that can be used for relief, lino & intaglio printing,
(either for sale or as a long-term loan)

16 April 2013

Collagraph, NZ Style

Collagraph is a print made from a textured plate.
The texture is from various materials glued to the plate.

The collagraph plate can be printed either as intaglio, emboss or relief / roll-up,
or a combination of these inking methods.

Beth Charles, I will always be there, 2011
Collagraph, 90x67cm

I generally start with a very thick cardboard, such as folio board.
I suggest you start out my making a strip of all the materials
so you can see what tone & texture they print.
Be sure not to make it too textured as it will tear or pierce the paper.
Make sure you keep a list, as sometimes it's hard to tell once they are inked up.

The smoother the surface the whiter it will print,
the coarser the texture the darker it will print.

Here are some suggestions of materials to try (not in any particular order):
gesso or modelling paint will hold brushmarks & create raised surface
draw on lines, dribbles & splatters with glue, primal, shellac or varnish
glue on sand, carburundum powder, rice or tea leaves
different grits of sandpaper gives dark even tone
torn/shredded paper or confetti for interesting shapes
bubble wrap or crumpled aluminum foil
cotton thread, string or wool are great for drawing textured lines
ribbon, lace, mesh, fabrics 
woven papyrus, kete or flax mat
 fine grasses, foliage, leaf skeletons
textured wallpaper, exposed corrugated board
low-profile found objects such as paper clips, etc

Rebecca Thomson, Blocks
Collagraph, 19x19cm

Iris Steensma, Zenobia 2
Collagraph, 15x12cm

Susan Hurrell Fields

Ruby Oakley, Forest Flowers, 2011

Barbara Graham, Endangered Species, 2009
Collagraph, 56 x 76cm, edition of 20

Barbara Graham, Landfill,  2011
Collagraph, 56 x 76cm, edition of 20

Steev Peyroux, Wrap Around
Collagraph and pencil

It doesn't require any fancy equipment, though a press makes it easier to print,
you can use the back or a spoon on the reverse of the paper to take the impression!
You can make collagraphs with textures you can find around home,
so why not make a few collagraph plates to print next time you're in the studio.
It's lots of fun!

15 April 2013

Conservation of Prints on Paper

 NZ Fine Prints just posted this helpful article about best practice in taking care of fine art prints.
Leading NZ fine art conservator Lynn Campbell of Campbell Conservation offered some advice
for new collectors of original or antique prints
and for those who want to know more about how to care for their collection.

Conservation Of Art: General Principles
Lynn says "Try to provide conditions that are as stable as possible. 
High temperatures and humidity levels speed up the degradation of the paper 
and encourage mould growth. 
Fluctuations cause distortions and subsequent damage to paper items."
The optimum storage conditions are 18-22°c and 45-55% relative humidity.
These precise conditions are difficult to achieve without specialist air-conditioning systems
but it is possible to apply some basic but important principles that will make a difference:
1. Avoid using an attic or basement as a storage area.
These areas tend to be prone to dampness or water leaks and conditions can fluctuate greatly.
2. Keep away from heaters, fire-places and other sources of heat.
 Avoid contact with bathroom, kitchen, laundry and external walls,
as humidity in these areas fluctuates greatly.
3. If possible use a storage location in the centre of a building away from external walls.
These areas undergo the least fluctuations in temperature and humidity.
4. Keep storage areas clean and well ventilated to avoid pest infestations and mould growth.
5. Avoid strong light sources and direct sunlight
as these will accelerate the degradation and fading processes.

Never use sticky tape!

Optimal Long-Term Storage For Works On Paper (eg Prints)
1. Lay prints flat in archival (acid-free) boxes.
Alternatively, use ordinary boxes lined with acid free paper.
Valuable or fragile prints should be individually wrapped.
Store artworks in folders or keep them mounted and framed.
Artworks on paper similar to prints with fragile or delicate surfaces
such as unfixed charcoal or chalk drawings are best mounted to avoid abrasion and smudging.
For long-term protection, mounts should be made from 100% rag, acid-free, alkaline buffered mount board.
This is sometimes called “museum board”.
The mount should have a window at the front and the item should be hinged to the backboard.
Do not use sticky tape to attach the work to the backboard.
Conservators prefer to use Japanese paper hinges and wheat starch paste
because they are stable, long lasting and will not stain paper.
Frames can be fitted with glass or acrylic sheet.
Items with loose powdery media should be framed with glass as acrylic has a static charge.
In all cases there should be no contact between the item and the glazing.

2. Place boxes off the ground (e.g. on shelves) to allow good air circulation
and prevent damage in the event of a flood.
The storage area must be an insect-free environment so inspect well before use and keep it clean.
If using pest strips, insect traps and pesticides
ensure that these do not come in direct contact with the items as they can cause damage to paper.
3. Ensure that there are no overhead pipes in the area, as these can drip.
Placing plastic over the boxes may provide some protection
but will restrict air circulation and may encourage mould growth.  
4. Keep frames off the floor. Stand upright on blocks or pieces of foam if shelves are not available.
5. Avoid rolling oversize prints or maps.
If this is unavoidable, roll onto a wide diameter (at least 10cm) cardboard tube,
which has been covered with Tyvek™ or acid-free tissue.
Wrap the rolled item with Tyvek™ or acid-free tissue.

Best Protection For Prints On Display
The use of stable framing and mounting materials is especially important
as even if the prints are being shown only for a short term exhibition
they may remain in the frames after the exhibition is over.

Correct Framing Is Vital For Prints On Display
1. Glazing is a must with a works on paper like prints.
The glazing should not come in contact with the object.
Ultraviolet-filtering glazing is recommended especially if the room has sources of UV radiation.
Note, however, that acrylics are not always appropriate for use in frames since these plastics carry a static charge that can dislodge pastel and other friable media.
In such cases, ultraviolet-filtering glass can be used.
2. The mounting materials inside the frame must adhere to conservation standards.
Conservators recommend use of pH-neutral or slightly alkaline (buffered) mats or mounts.
Hinges or the non-adhesive systems should be used to attach the objects to the mount.
If hinges are used, a high-quality, strong paper such as Japanese Kozo should be used
with an appropriate permanent, non-staining adhesive such as starch-based paste.
The back of the frame should contain backing layers of archival cardboard
 that are thick or dense enough to protect the object.
Frames should be well sealed and hung securely.
3. Avoid hanging artworks in damp areas such as on un-insulated outside walls,
which can be problematic in winter or during periods of high humidity.
If it is necessary to exhibit on an outside wall, a moisture barrier of polyester film or Marvelseal™
can be inserted between the backing layers or over the back of the frame.
4. The frame should be deep enough so that its back is recessed,
allowing a space for air circulation between the frame and the wall.
Frames can also be held away from the wall slightly by small rubber bumpers
or by push pins attached to the reverse of the frame.

Lighting Considerations
Exposure to light can cause discolouration and brittleness in paper and fading of media.
Keep lighting to a minimum.
Tungsten light bulbs provide a less damaging type of light than fluorescent or natural light sources.
Do not use frames with clip-on light fixtures. These create 'hot spots' which can dry out the paper.
Do not display pictures near sources of heat or moisture.

Cleaning & Handling
Check the backs of framed pictures periodically for dirt, dust, signs of mould or insect activity,
and to ensure that hangers and hardware are secure.
Dust frames regularly.
It is important to have clean hands when handling paper based materials
because paper easily absorbs skin oils and perspiration – these can cause staining and degradation.
When handling and transporting unframed works of art and documents,
 use a thick support paper or cardboard underneath or place your item inside a folder.
When carrying a framed work, grip both sides of the frame.

And lastly a final reminder (particularly considering the recent earthquakes in Christchurch),
use closed hangers or crimp the hanging hook closed
to help prevent the artwork from falling in an earthquake.

Thanks to Anthony Ellis of NZ Fine Prints for sharing this article with us.
If you would like to get in touch with Lynn regarding your paper conservation or art restoration needs
please call Lynn at Campbell Conservation in Christchurch on 03 980 4972

14 April 2013

Etching, NZ Style

After our success with drypoint, we are moving on to etching this week...

Etching plates can be adorned with simple mark-making or elaborate drawings.
Try to make it in your own style rather than expecting to replicate a Durer etching!

Andrea Mae Miller, Three Kite III, 2005
Bamboo etching, 40x50cm, edition of 3

There are may different grounds you want to experiment with;
hard ground is great for line drawings,
soft ground makes textures easy,
'sugar lift' for a reverse block out (great for brush marks),
crayons for textured drawn lines, or spraypaint for a speckled effect, etc
(also, any permanent markers work well if using the aluminium & copper sulphate process).

Elaine Mayer, XX
Etching, 28x38cm, edition of 5

The plate is then added to a corrosive liquid to 'eat away' the exposed areas.
Traditionally this was done with nitric acid on zinc or copper,
however, there are other methods such as the copper sulphate mordant on aluminium
which is outlined in Mark Graver's Non-Toxic Printmaking book.
Mark Graver, Nympheas III, 2009
Etching, 69x106cm, edition of 5 

Tones are created by adding an aquatint.
Traditionally this was very fine rosin dust,
though now many of us prefer the convenience of a spraypaint
(or exposing to a a stochastic dot screen if using solarplate).
Tone can also be printed in colour.

Anna Dalzel, Light Through Manuka, 2011
Etching & aquatint

Marian Maguire, Pseudopanax Achilles Penthesilea, 2001
Etching, 53x64cm, edition of 20

Gretchen Albrecht, Chinese Rose, 2008
Etching, 56x76cm, edition of 10

The entire plate can be immersed, with grounds covering areas to keep white.
I made this basic sample below using a vinyl-cut stencil as the resist.
After initially etching the outline for half the time required for full black tone,
I then removed the shapes from the bottom of the diamond in stages
and etched it incrementally to create the graduated tones.

You can also brush on the mordant/acid in specific areas for painterly effect
(This is called 'spit-bite', and can be diluted for a watercolour effect if desired)

Consider the way you ink up the plate.
Perhaps try a combination of intaglio inking and roll-up a different colour over the top.

Struan Hamilton, Azzo
Viscosity etching, 30x30cm

If you are after a photographic-style image,
you can screenprint the ground down, or use a solarplate instead.

Lynne Taylor, Crossing Over,  2012
Intaglio, 40x44cm, edition of 8

Consider combining elements together from seperate plates
to make diptyches or multi-plate arrangements.

Jacqueline Aust, Ronaki, 2003

Fleur Williams, Homebody, 2010
Etching and mezzotint, 30x60cm, edition of 10
And if you want areas of block colour then perhaps try 'chine collĂ©' (basically meaning 'tissue + paste')
Coloured tissue or fine japanese papers are cut or torn
 then placed on an inked up plate to provide a solid coloured area
A little glue on the top means the tissue will stick to your main paper support when put through the press.

Alex Milsom, Untitled, 2010
Etching and chine colle

Etching is such a vast topic that it can't all be covered in this post, but it is a lot of fun!
My next project will be to explore etching using a metal router to reproduce a digital image.
I'll keep you updated on my experiments when complete.
Has anyone else used this medium that wants to share some info or ideas??

11 April 2013

Jacqueline Aust, 14Apr-1May, Auckland

NorthArt are hosting an exhibition of new prints by Jacqueline Aust, titled Enshrined
from 14 April to 1 May

Or if you are not in the Auckland area,
then check out their website after the exhibition starts to see some images online:

10 April 2013

Drypoint, NZ Style

This afternoon we were experimenting with drypoint.
In drypoint the surface of the plate is scratched, gouged, and scraped. 
The metal or plastic of the plate is not removed, it is just pushed to the side.

Here examples that may be useful to inspire you to make some interesting drypoints:

Where to start? The plate... I find plexi-plate the cheapest and easiest.
It is usually clear so makes it easy to trace outlines from photos.
It's main disadvantage is that it doesn't hold plate tone well, so ink generously.

Metal plates such as aluminium, copper or zinc do hold plate tone
and the advantage of these is that it can be used in conjunction with other etching processes.

Consider the shape of image and plate - square, elongated, round, custom shape?

Alexis Neal, Nga Rakau a Tu, 2012
Relief etching, 30x25cm, edition of 20

Gabrielle Belz, Rushing Into Our Dreams, 2008
Drypoint, 44x60cm, edition of 20

Vanessa Edwards, Shame They Can't Change Their Spots, 2009
Drypoint and monoprint, 42x27cm

Consider how the image sits on the plate and the paper -
is it centered, to one side, top, bottom, to the edge of the plate? 
Over edge of paper?

Graham Hall, Creation Myth, 2011
Drypoint, 30x30cm, edition of 20

Ben Reid, Time in the Sun - Chatham Island Shag, 2009
Drypoint, 31x57cm, edition of 8
It doesn't have to be black...
Think about inking up your plates with a hint of colour

Andrea Mae Miller, Antipodal, 2011
Bamboo etching, 21x22cm, edition of 10
Graham Hall, Prussian  Blue, 2010
Drypoint, 39x27cm, edition of 10

Or consider printing with multiple colours...

minu, Afternoon Tea No. 8 - The Otter, 2011
Drypoint, 19x27cm, edition of 15

Struan Hamilton, Untitled
Drypoint, 60x80cm

Ben Reid combines dryprint with woodblock
sometimes as a tone or pattern for background or as an embossed texture.

Ben Reid, Hihi, 2007 (Close-up)
Drypoint with emboss, 50x36cm, edition of 6

Struan Hamilton, 11Apr-9May, Auckland

Struan Hamilton's exhibition Cartographies of Ruin
will be on display at Saatchi & Saatchi Gallery, 125 The Strand, Parnell
from 11 April to 9 May.

In Evan Calder Williams’ book on salvage punk, Combined and Uneven Apocalypse,
he describes what he calls “the work of construction in the age of wreckage.”

Williams further defines salvagepunk as “the post-apocalyptic vision of a broken and dead world,
strewn with both the dream residues and real junk of the world that was,
and shot through with the hard work of salvaging, repurposing, détourning, and scrapping.
Acts of salvagepunk strive against and away from the ruins on which they cannot help but be built
and through which they rummage.”

In the darkly fretted, complex spaces and textural thickets of Struan’s metal plate etchings
 the traditions of British drawing and printmaking,
which relished the linear and textured complexities of factory smokestacks, railway lines,
bare trees in winter, construction-site scaffolds, derricks and dockside cranes in grimy shipyards,
gnarly whorled wharf timbers, ladders, corded masts, stitched sails, and nautical halyards—
are all present as pictorial memory traces.

And this graphic romanticism of skeletal structure and patinated surface
 is reborn in Struan’s work through a dark amalgam
with the corrosive nastiness of post-industrial grime and decay.
There is a heavy metal clamour and dirty glamour;
 a post-cubist steampunk brutalism that runs through
the improvisational webs, nets and techno-tangles
of Struan’s acid-etched, scraped, polished, pressed and printed cartographies of ruin.

Discussing his early art school work, Struan talks about drawing a lot of bare trees,
being fascinated by their ‘decay and bleakness;’
of backgrounding figures or objects against jutting, rusty metal surfaces.
He still sees the urban fabric as “all angular, sharp, decaying even;
as buildings go up they look like they are falling apart.”

Struan regards the etching plate itself as a site
on which he pursues parallel processes of making and destroying:
“I love the feeling of working on metal,
there is a kind of decay in the very act of making the etching plate,
the needle lifting away the top ground and the corrosive acid eating the plate...
scraping, burnishing, it's a very physical medium.”
[Allan Smith, Elam School of Fine Arts]

08 April 2013

Impressions, to 16Apr, Auckland

Impressions is on until 16 April at NKB Gallery, 455 Mt Eden Rd, Auckland.
I just saw this exhibition advertised but haven't had a chance to go see it, only one week to go.

I was pleasently surprised that the gallery's website contained all the images,
so thought I'd include a few here to encourage you to come along and see it too.

Michael Smither, 3 Rock Pools and Lava Flow

Susan Hayward Smith, Elements of Life
Photolithography Intaglio

Mary Taylor, Kowhai Motiff

Grahame Sydney, Fog at Kanes Pond
Stone Lithograph, 72x96cm
Billy Apple,  Billy Apple (Gold)
Screenprint, 66x46cm, edition of 10

Brenda Harthill, Water Land 1
Collagraph Etching, 92x71cm

Jenny Dolezell, Like You Really
Stanley Palmer, Karamea
Bamboo Etching

Seems like a great variety of interesting prints,

05 April 2013

Green Door Print Exchange 2013 Invitation, UK

Green Door Printmaking Studio (UK) heartily invite national and international printmakers
to participate in their 5th annual exchange (IPE 2013).

Maximum Print Size:10cm x 10cm, Paper Size:14cm x 14cm
Edition Size: Ten (10)
Submission Deadline: Saturday 31 August 2013 (12 Noon (GMT))
Administration Cost: £10, plus Postage Cost: £15 International (so total cost approx NZ$45)
Please register your interest in the project if you want to take part in this exchange
or visit their website for more details and images from previous years' exchanges:

02 April 2013

Barry Cleavin, March 2013, Otago

I saw this article from the Otago Daily Times about Barry Cleavin's recent residency.
Just in case you didn't see it, here it is:

Charmian Smith talks to the Christchurch artist 
who is enjoying refuge in Dunedin at the Caselberg cottage.

There's a strain of melancholy in printmaker Barry Cleavin's work. Irony too.

Over five decades his prints have recorded follies, played with words and imagery, 
depicted intricate skeletons and skulls. Sometimes what's going on is quite vicious.
But from time to time, artists need to sit back and reassess where they are up to, he says.

 The Christchurch-based printmaker has had the opportunity to do that this month, 
as the Caselberg Trust artist in residence for March.
He and his partner, artist Dee Copland, 
have been enjoying the refuge of the Caselberg cottage at Broad Bay, 
close to the water and with bellbirds in the garden.

In Dunedin, he has been drawing not only his grotesque, detailed skeletons 
and sometimes vitriolic sketches of ''turkey'' and ''donkey'' instead of John Key, 
but also more traditional drawings of coastlines and jetties on Otago Peninsula.

''You come to a place like this 
and you can't be vicious about what you see down there on the coastline, 
so I've been doing more the type of drawing that anyone else might do, 
of something that is quiet and contemplative,'' he says.

''The track of my work hasn't changed that much. 
It oscillates between more and less vitriolic commentary. 
I don't know how it's emerged in me, something that seeks to record follies, 
which usually involves something of the literary 
and on the other side something I like to think of as being unashamedly graphic.''

He shows recent etchings playing on the saying ''the elephant in the room'' 
with a ladder leading up to ''a room in the elephant''. 
In Dunedin, he has made etchings showing the Queen Victoria statue from Queens Gardens 
meeting the Alice in Wonderland Queen of Hearts from Larnach Castle.

But for decades he has been fascinated by bones and skeletons. 
A series of works from the mid-1990s entitled ''Hungry Sheep''
are detailed etchings of a ram's skull he found on a beach at Moeraki where he has a holiday house.

''That sheep is not an inert sheep. It's actually shouting. 
And as we know, in space there's a vacuum and there's no sound, 
so I look at it as a soundless moan coming from the thing. 
Every time I drew it and even when I print it, I try to get that sense of its departure, 
and if you get its sense of departure, then you have a sense of your own. 
This is our lot, there's no escaping this thing. 
Although I am a great escapist I do know there's not one way I can negotiate my way out of that.''

He admits to being of a melancholy turn of mind 
and the sense of memento mori (remember you will die) pervades much of his work.
However, he says, of skeletons, 
''if a person gets past the memento mori thing that you are going to die tomorrow, 
they are a sublime form of sculpture, the way they lock in together, 
they way they actually form shapes. 
Bones are not inert dead things - they just happen to be extremely beautiful. 
Bird skulls I just love.''

He has drawn many animal and bird skeletons
from both Canterbury and Otago museum collections,
and is hoping to find the bagpipes that ended the siege at Lucknow, 
which he remembered seeing as a child in the Otago Settlers Museum.

''I don't know why I remember them but I want to find them again and see what I can make of them
 and see why they fascinate me at this time and why they fascinated me way back then.''
Although he's lived and worked in Christchurch for 50 years, 
Cleavin (73) was born and grew up in Dunedin and says he feels his heart is here - 
partly because Dunedin cardiac services have kept him alive, he says.

''I have no family alive here, but I have memories of my grandfather going up Stuart St and my grandmother living in Graham St - just a sense of place.''

At King's High School, there was ''no such thing as art 
and a peculiar disposition towards music - essentially it was a sporting school. 
I didn't mind sport at the time and I don't mind it now, but it wasn't what I needed,'' he says.

Later, at Ilam School of Fine Art at the University of Canterbury, 
he studied with Rudi Gopas ''who was strongly based in European expressionism, 
and Bill Sutton, who was strongly based in New Zealand preoccupations''.
While there, he decided to explore the printmaking room 
and that has become his main medium for the past 50 years. 
He taught art at high school, polytechnic and Canterbury University until he was 50, 
then retired to work on his art.

More recently, the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes has taken its toll.
When he and his partner tried to get help to fix the broken foundations of their Papanui house 
they ended up feeling like personae non grata
They have also found it difficult to live without a library or art gallery.

''You have no idea how difficult it is to live without a library,
 living with pop-up art with no sense of history involved. 
History is what happened yesterday on the street corner when someone has put up a painting
 - this is a bit devilish - but you are meant to be thrilled to see something go up on a wall in the city.

''They can't do what they can't do, I know that, 
but I need to be fed in other ways and I believe other people do too.

''It isn't all whoop ourselves up for a while and we'll feel better 
and have a few lights in the park and perhaps the 1812 Overture. 
It's not the way my mind wants to operate, so that's been a difficulty.''

The couple spent Christmas at Harington Point on Otago Peninsula 
and saw a house for sale in Portobello with space for two artist studios and print workshops, 
bought it, and will move permanently to Dunedin in the middle of the year.

Cleavin felt dreadful when he told his friends, many of them artists of his own generation, 
that they were moving, but now some of them are thinking about moving too 
- it's just that they want a form of stability, he says.

''The sociology of the artist in relation to the society they live in, 
the earthquakes have actually destabilised that, 
no matter the goodwill of putting things on street corners and so on. 
It's still somehow another stop to the continuum of creativity.

''Besides the earthquake and external circumstances, there's the notion of not enough time. 
When a person is making things, I think they have in their mind that it will go on, 
but there are so many things to solve, there are too many things to draw, 
too many things to actually write down and think about, 
and you've got your allotted span - memento mori,'' he says.