[is this] WHAT WOMEN WANT!? – Ironic Collagraphs

[is this] WHAT WOMEN WANT!? – Ironic Collagraphs

Anne-Maree Hunter discovers the world of shopping in her new exhibition questioning stereotypes of female desire.

15 December, 2023
In Exhibitions,
Printmaking, Q&A


Shopping, 2008 reworked 2023, collagraph, screenprint, chine collé, stitched decorative papers, 38 x 38 cm


There are three dimensions to a credit card…height, width and DEBT!, 2008 reworked 2023, collagraph, screenprint, stitched decorative papers, 38 x 38 cm

Puff Piece, 2008 reworked 2023, collagraph, screenprint, stitched decorative papers, 38 x 38 cm

End of a Rainbow [detail], 2008 reworked 2023, collagraph, screenprint, chine collé, stitched decorative papers, 38 x 38 cm

Installation view.

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

A: Quite some time ago, the phrase “is this what women want?” was circulating in my head – there had been a movie years before titled What Women Want about the assumptions surrounding this statement. It was a romantic comedy, but it made me wonder what the answer to my question was. If most women raised in our consumerist society want shiny things, as we are told, then I very much fall outside this stereotype: shoes and handbags have never been of much interest to me. I am more practical. However, I do appreciate beautiful art (my definition of beauty is wide) and also being challenged by it. I admire artwork with deeper meanings, even if it requires looking for it.

Q: How did the artwork selection take place?

A: I had been re-working some older collagraphs to take on a square format for framing, so I added decorative papers with stitching as this echoed the ways I had originally assembled the collagraph plates. I had planned a 3 x 3 grid of the framed works, however the exhibition space only allowed for a 3 x 2 arrangement. The work was laid out together and a selection was made on the best overall appearance. As a work is sold, there are replacements to take its place.

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

A: All the pretty things! I think people will see attractive pictures of consumer goods like handbags, textiles, and shoes. Some visitors may peer closer and read the subtle screenprinted text sitting behind each object and see the irony. I wish to draw the audience in with lush images but hope they get the point I am making about the unsustainable consumerist and capitalist society we live in. I am happy for the viewer to see “images of desire”, but I am providing cookies for those who’d like to look a little deeper or a little longer.

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

A: All the collagraphs in this series were worked together so they all have a consistent appearance. Some of my favourites focus on the key concepts I was exploring: the handbag in Shopping, as the title suggests, is about consumption. In a rich crimson red, the textured detail printed exceptionally well. It shocks me to hear that shopping is considered a hobby by some people!

The very long title There are three dimensions to a credit card… height, width & DEBT! for a sky-blue designer handbag points to how we are over-extending both our personal finances but also the world’s resources.

Puff Piece looks pretty in pink, the shredded paper texture picks up the pink and lemon ink remarkably well. When a puff piece is written about something or someone, it indicates unwarranted or underserved praise, something that is overstuffed.

And End of the Rainbow can be interpreted in a number of ways – this is what you find at the end of the rainbow; or perhaps this is “where the buck stops”. The “rainbow” in the print is formed by gluing shaped dressmaker’s pattern pieces into position.

The screenprinted text that sits behind or is juxtaposed with some images sings “buy now, pay later” and other little jingles, to add a decorative element while also pointing subliminally and with some satire to messages embedded within the works.

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

A: I tend to work in series and all printmaking mediums allow a stream of work to be generated. One idea or image begets the next. This series uses collagraphs, which can be cut into almost any shape because the printing plate is made of cardboard rather than metal. Collagraphs are a kind of hybrid print medium as it can be printed as both an intaglio and a block print. Printing this way simultaneously achieves a blend of two inks, which usually produces a third colour – it is an efficient way to achieve rich, detailed images. The effect perfectly highlights the multiple textural elements I have worked and crafted onto the surface of each cardboard plate through a process of stitching, cutting, gluing and tearing.

Constructing each cardboard plate can takes days or weeks. The bonus with collagraphs is that the shellacked cardboard plates build up a patina from the inks and are gorgeous objects in themselves. I’ve often thought of exhibiting these just on their own once the edition has been printed.

[is this] WHAT WOMEN WANT!? – Ironic Collagraphs is at Artisan Collective, 6 Teramby Rd, D’Albora Marinas, Nelson Bay, until 31 December, 9am-5pm daily



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