Saved: printmaking at QCA

Queensland College of Art’s threatened printmaking department has been saved, writes Tim Mosely.

22 December, 2020
In Exhibitions,
Printmaking, Q&A

Australia’s printmaking communities secure QCA’s print studios

In response to the public’s unequivocal reaction against Griffith University’s proposed withdrawal of Print courses from Queensland College of Art the University executive have changed their minds and committed to keeping the Print (and Jewellery) studios at Queensland College of Art.

The turnaround is a stunning example of social media’s potential to capture and harness the public mood and the power of the replicated image (prints) to effect change. The academic and technical positions linked to QCA’s Print and Jewellery studios have also been secured ensuring the irreplaceable studio-based skill sets these communities dependent on are sustained for future students.

The initial response, led by a dedicated group of QCA alumni and students, was thorough, measured and effective. ( https://www.facebook.com/groups/teamqcasos ) Protest and public discussion led to an online petition culminating in three hand bound volumes delivered to Vice Chancellor Professor Carolyn Evans. The first volume contained 10,000 of the over 11,500 signatures received in less than three weeks, and the other two volumes contained 8% of the comments made by the signatories. Protest was both loud and discrete, in the public sphere and on campus (eg – prints of Barbra Kruger’s “PRINTED MATTER matters” placed over framed student prints in Griffith’s executive’s halls).

While the Print and Jewellery studios were “saved” this success is heavily tempered by the loss of significant staff from QCA and the relegation of QCA’s celebrated Photography degree to a major in the “new Bachelor of Visual Arts”. The appetite of economic rationalists is not sated and continues to constrict Australian tertiary art schools undefended by Federal and State leaders.

Defend is the word, and QCA’s continuing Print and Jewellery studios owe their future to the many quite achievers who came to their defence. QCA students and staff, and Qld’s creative communities are deeply grateful for the scale of support given to them by such a broad range of communities, organisations and public figures across Australia. The support of peak bodies such as IMPRINT, NAVA and AAANZ as well as institutions at the state, national and international levels was crucial. The many community print groups, galleries and libraires across Australia whose letters to the Vice Chancellor made evident the scale of the contribution these communities make to society was overwhelming at times.

The staff and students at QCA are very aware that this win does not guarantee the long-term security of studio learning at QCA. The boa constrictors coils have significantly relaxed, but they have not yet released and difficult challenges still lie ahead at QCA and further afield.

Tim Mosely is the convenor for Print at QCA, and the convenor for abbe (artists books Brisbane events)
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