Susan Wald: Mungo

Lake Mungo, and its ancient geological formations, form the subject of a new exhibition writes Susan Wald.

25 February, 2021
In Exhibitions,
Printmaking, Q&A

From top:

Susan Wald, Mungo XXIV, 2018, black ink on Hahnmuhle Paper, 56 x 67.5 cm

Susan Wald, Lake Mungo Walls of China, 2019, black ink on Magnani Reve paper, 50 x 60 cm

Susan Wald, Mungo XVII, 2018, black ink on Hahnmuhle Paper, 56 x 67.5 cm

Susan Wald, Mungo XXIII, 2018, black ink on Hahnmuhle Paper, 56 x 67.5 cm

Q: What were some of the foundation ideas you began with when embarking on this exhibition project?
The exhibition is inspired by Lake Mungo. Having painted in the landscape over the years, going out for short drawing and painting trips, this is the first large body of work I have made responding to the landscape. The idea was to have two exhibitions from my ‘Mungo’ body of work, one of monotypes and lithographs at Printmaker Gallery and the other of paintings and monotypes at the Mildura Arts Centre. The monotypes were made at my residency at The Art Vault in 2018 and the lithographs made in my studio in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Because of the Covid epidemic, the Printmaker Gallery show was postponed indefinitely and my show in Mildura closed for the majority of the exhibiting period. Online exhibitions and videos took their place. It was great that the work had a virtual presence at that time but now I’m excited to finally have the prints exhibited in the flesh.
My experience of Mungo was so strong that I felt compelled to make the work. I asked myself questions. Does it feel like Mungo? Am I in the space or looking at the space? Do I get a sense of this ancient land, the unease of its past – present and palpable, the spirituality, the eroding and changing landscape? Standing in it at dusk with the sun in decline the tips of the pinnacles would burn with colour. I have tried to capture the pulse, the heartbeat and energy of the land; a felt response to what I saw and experienced.
Q: How did the artwork selection take place?
I divided the monotypes between my upcoming show and the show at MAC, choosing intuitively for both. Irene, Fi and I went through all the works and decided on the selection of work, both black and white monotypes and lithographs as well as small coloured monotypes. To convey part of the process one of my mono-plates, transferred onto a lithographic plate by Adrian Kellett, will also be included in the show.
Q: How does the exhibition manifest – what do visitors experience?
Visitors will first experience the street view window of Printmaker Gallery where one of the larger monotypes will hang. Walking inside the gallery they will then come across an exhibition of large monotypes and lithographs on the walls. There will be a cabinet and display box, one of which will have black and white lithographs and the other coloured monotypes. These will be accompanied by a lightbox mono-plate installation.
Q: What are some of the key works and what subject matter do they deal with?
A feature of this series are the sand and clay residue pinnacles of Lake Mungo. These pinnacles were left by the lakes, once part of the Murray Darling Basin that dried out about 20,000 years ago. In the process of making the work each print came into its own but also fed into the other, expanding on the single and as a whole giving an insight into my experience of the land.
Mungo XXIII and Lake Mungo Walls of China try to describe a sense of the land at dusk when the light hits the ancient pinnacles and creates a world of dark and light and piercing colour and shade; a time when standing there takes your breath away. Painted and drawn over the ghost image on the plate left by a first printed image, Mungo XVII and Mungo Red Top VII each describes a pinnacle in the full sun of the day, a time of light and cast shadows, cold wind and moments of heat.

Susan Wald: Mungo is at PG Printmaker Gallery, 227 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Victoria, 4-18 March

www.printmakergallery.com.au

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