Inkmasters exhibition 2018

Daniele Creenaune, The Source_tryptych_ 2017, mokulito, 91.5x180

Inkmasters exhibition 2018

Andrea Huelin reviews the Inkmasters Print Exhibition 2018.

1 December, 2018
In Exhibitions,
Printmaking, Q&A
From top:
Daniele Creenaune, The Source, tryptych, 2017, mokulito, 91.5 x 180 cm
Glenda Orr, Offsetting, 2017, etching aquatint, spit bite, 8 pieces, 118 x 132 cm
Robyn Mayo, A basket from Peppimenarti holding plants from Ruby Gap Northern Territory, 2017, etching hand coloured, 68 x 110 cm
Clare Jackson, I saw it different I must admit, 2017, etching aquatint, 49 x 38 cm
Robert Pau, Torres Strait conflict map, 2017, linocut, 70 x 100.1 cm

Exhibition openings are social affairs, and I shamefully admit to enjoying some industry gossip and a glass of bubbles on opening night, often at the expense of spending time viewing the actual art.  This was definitely not the case for the recent Inkmasters Print Exhibition at the Tanks Art Centre in Cairns.  Upon entering the space, there was no denying the outstanding overall quality on show and it was thrilling to explore the variety of excellent contemporary prints by more than 150 finalists from Australia and overseas.

This year’s artist in residence Gary Shinfield responded to his Cairns experience by producing a multi-panel unique state linoprint that seemed to reflect the darkness, density and drama of the tropical rainforest.  Many artists also reflected the environment in their work, showing the virtuosity of printmaking in translating the essence of a subject.

Danielle Creenaune’s award winning Mokulito print The Source showed a path through a stream – its simplicity belying a skilful and heartfelt drawing of a place of great meaning to the artist.  Rew Hanks’ breathtaking hand coloured linocut of the black volcanic landscape of Iceland was testament to the power and impact of the medium at its absolute best.

Australian printmaker Clare Jackson won the Early Career Printmaker’s Award for her beautifully conceived and executed etching ‘I saw it different, I must admit’, where an aerial view of the landscape was also a record of a moment in time – a parachute sending up a puff of dust as it landed on the bare earth.

Noticeable in this year’s exhibition were the number of artworks that were printed to the edges of the paper, and hung unframed in a series on the wall, bringing out the contemporary and experimental nature of many of the works.

Among them was ‘Offsetting’ by Glenda Orr, the winner of the Dr Raya Mayo Prize for excellence in printmaking.  The artwork comprised 6 panels depicting a slightly distorted view of a number of stacked axes, a highly original comment on the perceived ‘death by small cuts’ of Australia’s habitats and biodiversity.

Many artists explored more traditional printmaking genres, such as botanical studies and maps.  Robyn Mayo’s images were drawn in the field with great attention to describing the form of the hardy desert plants of Ruby Gap, Northern Territory.  Robert Pau’s ‘Torres Strait Conflict Map’ linocut documented the contact foreign vessels had with Torres Strait Islanders from the 1600s to the 1900s in a map of the islands, showing the paths of the journeys, peppered with nautical and cartographical symbols bordered by Torres Strait symbols and totems.

As in previous years, the Inkmasters Print Exhibition was the impressive culmination of a biennial program of events and a survey of the printmaking practices of artists from all corners of the globe.  The quality of the show reinforced the important role that printmaking has in observing, interpreting and translating the world around us and in inventing new ways to communicate contemporary concerns.  It is reassuring to know that these age-old print media are in the hands of the most inventive, careful and thoughtful people in our artistic community.