Umbrella: Young Indigenous Printmakers

It’s the final week to see the Young Indigenous Printmakers (YIPs) show in Townsville, featuring William Ross State High School & Kirwan State High School students, based on a successful partnership with Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts.

29 June, 2021
In Exhibitions,
Printmaking, Q&A

From top:

Lakita Dau (William Ross State High School), Mum and baby dugong me, 2021, linoleum-cut ink print on paper, 15 x 30 cm:

My design is inspired by my Torres Strait culture. The dugong and turtle are two common seafood that we hunt and eat. The patterns are our traditional weaves; the dhari is a headdress that the men wear and the mother and baby dugong represents how my mother and I have a close relationship. Both of my parents are proud Torres Strait Islanders and we are a very traditional family.

Gracelyne Budby (William Ross State High School), The Struggle, 2021, linoleum-cut ink print on paper, 15 x 30 cm:

The inspiration of my lino print came about from two of my six totems. The goanna and the serpent are having a battle and are circling each other. The two large dots on the hind legs of the goanna are bite marks from the serpent’s fangs when it attacked. All of the dots up the serpent’s neck are bite marks from the goanna when the serpent was in its jaws. Their battle was quite gory, but in the end, it was powerful. In the end they realised that they were both equal as powerful as each other. This story represents the battle between my two great grandmothers, Mary and Mary.

Terell Anderson (Kirwan State High School), DNA, 2021, linoleum-cut ink print on paper, 15 x 30 cm:

In this artwork I have created there are two red-belly-black snakes that are coming together. These two snakes symbolise bloodlines and the family groups that break from them on either side of the snakes. This artwork uses designs from my family group and depicts an animal from our area in South East Queensland.

Tyani Sirriss (Kirwan State High School), The Land Snake, 2021, linoleum-cut ink print on paper, 15 x 30 cm:

This image shows my connection to my Country and is from the Ingham area, where the snake is sacred to the Mungala Tribe.

Room view of the Young Indigenous Printmakers exhibition by William Ross State High School and Kirwan State High School students.

 

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

A: Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts has partnered with Townsville City Council Galleries since 2014 to run the Young Indigenous Printmakers (YIPs) program. The collaborative outreach program seeks to support young Indigenous artists from North Queensland high schools. Through the program, the art students develop greater artistic awareness, knowledge and printmaking skills and further engagement with their cultures. Since 2020, students have been mentored by Eastern Arrente and Kalkadoon artist Martina Ah Sam and established printmaker Margaret Robertson. With the support and guidance of these mentors, the students develop ideas and imagery in their schools, and create and print lino-cut artworks in Umbrella’s Makerspace. The resultant works are then exhibited in Umbrella’s gallery space.

Q: How did the artwork selection take place?

A: Each young artist from the participating school’s class has the chance to develop and print an edition of three linocut prints. From each edition, the best print (in terms of registration, print density and a lack of finger-prints or marks) is chosen for the exhibition. The other two prints are allocated to the young artists and their schools for their own internal exhibitions.

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

A: Visitors are presented with a diverse array of graphic, black-and-white linocut prints. The uniformity of size and colour enables the works to be curated into a striking display. Typically, the works are grouped together by the artists’ schools. In some iterations of the YIPs program, the prints were created collaboratively to present one large artwork with individual print segments created by each young artist.

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

A: The artists are encouraged to engage with their Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture/s in terms of subject matter and imagery. Many of the artworks depict the artists’ animal totems, nature and stories passed down from their families. Each of the works are important but the stories for the 4 artworks included here are listed below the Q&As.

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

A: Generally, the moment of realisation and excitement occurs for most of the YIP artists when they ‘pull’ the print back from the lino on the press. For these young artists, it is also a rewarding experience to see their works on display in a contemporary art gallery amidst exhibitions by more established artists.

Young Indigenous Printmakers (YIPs), featuring William Ross State High School & Kirwan State High School students, is at Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts, 408 Flinders Street, Townsville, until 4 July. www.umbrella.org.au

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