Chris Lawry: Somewhere Near Here

Chris Lawry: Somewhere Near Here

Chris Lawry celebrates the present moment and the local in her new exhibition.

21 June, 2023
In Exhibitions,
Printmaking, Q&A

From top:

Chris Lawry:

Somewhere Near Here, Clouds Over Cooma, 2022, linocut, edition of 20.

Back Of The Shops, 2023, linocut, 61.5 x 50 cm, edition of 20.

Morning Light, 2022, linocut, 23 x 31.5 cm, edition of 15.

My evening Walk, 2023, linocut, 37.5 x 50cm, edition of 15.

Lake’s Edge, 2023, linocut, 44 x 30.5 cm, edition of 15.

Q: What were some of the foundation ideas for this exhibition project?

 A: It started with early morning light, down by Sassafras Creek. At that time of day, the low-lying ground is still in deep shadow, while the higher trees are filled with light. The first print of this series began there. After that experience, I decided to look closer at my immediate neighbourhood. There is beauty and interest to be found everywhere and anywhere. If I have enough years, I could pursue this idea of neighbourhood in any number of other neighbourhoods than my own. I find the story, both good and bad, of the human family in its home places endlessly fascinating. I decided to call this collection Somewhere Near Here with the idea that “here” can be anywhere we humans live, and observe the world we inhabit, but sadly, often without the care it deserves.

Q: How did the artwork selection take place?

 A: There is always work that doesn’t quite pan out as intended, or doesn’t entirely fit within my planned theme. On the other hand, on a recent journey up the Eden-Monaro Highway during the floods, I got excited by the stormy sky, and that became a subject, too. I was pleased with the result, so I left this print in. The sky pictures are also a precursor to what might be my next lino-cut series.

Usually, I think of my work in terms of a narrative, but if the viewer takes away a completely different story after see my work, then it’s a win for both of us.

A previous body of work focused on the aftermath of the recent summer of bushfires on the forests near Mallacoota, and their gradual recovery. This current series has a quieter idea. Just look around, appreciating exactly where you might be. Look at how that streetlight shines on the road, on nearby trees. Look at the water reeds growing on the edge of a lake, or how the view over a trainline, a laneway, the back of shops, and tree tops rising into the sky makes an unexpectedly intriguing view.

I chose my subjects because I want to share what I see.

Q: How does the exhibition manifest – what do visitors experience?

 A: I’m hoping that each visitor will experience the collection in their own way. Some may have questions about technique, and the process through which linocuts are made and printed. Others may have questions about the actual locations used here. Hopefully, some may leave with an appreciation of how we need to protect our environment, the clouds which can be so dramatic and beautiful, and part of the cycle of the very air we breathe, the rain we need, the trees simultaneously beautiful and absolutely necessary for our survival. Some may leave determined to look a little closer at the own environments, whatever may be somewhere near them.

Q: What are some of the key works and what subject matter do they deal with?

 A: The Back Of The Shops is one of my largest works, so far, and had its own interesting challenges. Neither the train station, or the shops of my town, are particularly lovely in their own right. Yet I feel moved by that view every time I leave the train station. You just look to the left, and there it is. Another smaller work important to me was Lake’s Edge. I wanted to do a picture of grass. So far, I regard this as my most successful in achieving that. There are three prints mostly portraying the sky. Of course, I have seen the sky wonderfully done by other printmakers, but these three are my solution to this problem – how to give the viewer the idea of “air” in a form that is nothing like the air itself.

Much of my work is tonal in design, with myriad little cuts and lines and dots, that create grey tones. A Hills House, though, is different in that I chose a more open cutting style. This image, is almost entirely either black, or white, without grey tones. I set these little challenges for myself when I begin a new work, it keeps it interesting for me.

Q: What is it about the printmaking experience that you most appreciate?

 A: I love everything about lino-cutting, from sketching the outlines and shading on the lino, to deciding which cutting techniques will best capture my intentions, and experimenting with new ones. It is often a challenge to translate my chosen subject into lino-cut form. How do you show dust, or clouds, or air, or water in a graphic form like black and white lino? Figuring out a way to hopefully make it work is a wonderful challenge, and one that excites me every time.

Somewhere Near Here is at Tacit Art, Level 1, 188-191 Johnston St Collingwood, until 8 July.



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