Disquiet / Shelter

Disquiet / Shelter

Gary Shinfield discusses his latest exhibition Disquiet/Shelter, showing at Articulate project space in Leichardt, Sydney.

24 June, 2024
In Exhibitions,
Printmaking, Q&A


Gary Shinfield, Shelter 5, 2023, relief prints on various papers with ink painting and found wood, 100 x 100 cm, unique state, courtesy of the artist


Gary Shinfield, Shelter 3, 2023, relief print with ink painting on six sheets of Thai handmade paper, 114 x 225 cm, unique state, courtesy of the artist

Gary Shinfield, Shelter 5B, 2024, woodcut and collagraph on Nepalese paper, image 44 x 30 cm, series of 5, courtesy of the artist

Gary Shinfield, Shelter series 1 no. 3, 2024, etched lino print on Thai handmade paper, 30 x 22 cm, unique state, courtesy of the artist

Gary Shinfield, Shelter series 1 no. 1, 2024, etched lino print, 22 x 30 cm, ed. 16

All images © and courtesy of the artist

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

A: The main idea which links all work is the notion of shelter in unsettled times. Moving closer to nature and natural places for inspiration is also an ongoing theme. In nature, shelter can be found, experienced and imagined. Works made on site respond to place by painting with ink directly onto woodblocks, and scraping into lino blocks covered in wax. Carving and etching take place later in the studio. Working this way aims to capture essence of place and images made are often abstract interpretations of various elements seen.

Each site where work is made is also an opportunity to move closer to, and explore the country in which I live. For this exhibition I worked in the Grampians and surrounding areas in Victoria. This area has a rich history of Indigenous rock art, and visiting these sites was inspirational, providing a deeper understanding of the common ground on which we walk. Visiting these places also raises the question, how does a non-Indigenous person relate and respond to sacred Indigenous places? As our global world declines, the shelter of the land has much to offer.

Thank you to the traditional owners of Gariwerd, the Jadawadjaili and Djab Wurrang people.

Q: How did the artwork selection take place?

A: Articulate is a project space and artist-run initiative, providing a place for experimental and alternative work. With this in mind some works made take new directions. For example, I found a discarded piece of wood from a building site, onto which fragments of prints were glued as seen in Shelter 5. It leans against a wall providing a temporary shelter.

The space provides a way to display a series of works, such as Shelter 3 consisting of 6 sheets of Thai handmade paper placed beside each other. This work also combines ink painting with relief printing.

Only works made from those blocks conceived in the Grampians have been exhibited. The exhibition space provides an opportunity to show single images, series of works, and large-scale multiples made up of many parts, all unified by a theme of shelter.

The selection was also made according to those works that best captured an authentic experience of being there.

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

 A: The first thing visitors experience is a 19th century interior with weathered beams and textured wall surfaces. The works have been placed in relation to the architecture. All works are unframed, and pinned to the wall as sheets of paper hanging freely. They are placed as clusters, multiples and single images. Images of shelter and disquiet are placed in close proximity, creating connections and disconnections.

Some works explore the use of print with other media, such as hand applied pigment, ink painting, tapa cloth and found objects. These materials and the way they have been used add spontaneity and unexpected qualities to some works.

A variety of handmade papers have been used, sourced from Thailand, Korea, China, Japan and Tonga, and their unique qualities are best seen unframed.

Two large-scale works titled Cave 1 and 2 have been developed on tapa cloth. They show much layering and chance placement of relief printing, creating shelters both physical and spiritual. They hang in space, as sculptural forms moving slowly over time with changes in air flow.

Visitors will also view photo media works by Irena Conomos who has worked with the same theme of disquiet / shelter.

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

A The subject of Shelter 5B is the basic form of a cave with a protective barrier in front. The cave was carved from 3 plywood blocks and the barrier from impasto medium painted onto another plywood block. This image alludes to a protected space of sanctuary.

The subject of Shelter series 1 no. 3 is ambiguous: it is based on the form of a rock and is also suggestive of the human body. It is typical of images that look inwards to interior spaces and outwards to forms in the landscape.

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

A: Recently, I have enjoyed creating images on sites in natural places: sitting on the ground, making direct contact with nature, and responding on a series of blocks. Time seems to slow down, and sometimes there is an experience of merging with the surrounding environment.

Lino blocks coated with wax, were scraped with stones and sticks found nearby. They were later exposed to sunlight for several days, resulting in fractures and cracks. When etched in the studio, new networks of lines and shapes appeared, and it is these unexpected discoveries of process that make printmaking exciting.

Disquiet/Shelter, by Gary Shinfield (print media) and Irena Conomos (photo media), is at Articulate project space, 497 Parramatta Rd, Leichhardt NSW until 30 June. Open 11-5pm, Thursday to Sunday. Artist talks Saturday 22 June at 2pm. Closing drinks Sunday 30 June 3pm.

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