Installation of Urbanus by Open Bite Printmakers.
Michael Dingley, Rainy Harbour Night, intaglio chine-colle, 64 x 50 cm
Linda Galbraith, Untitled, digital print, encaustic, 56 x 38 cm
Megan Edwards, Urban Shadows, mixed media, 39 x 24 cm
Annarie Hildebrand, Cottage Garden, porcelain with screenprinted transfers in indigo ceramic ink, 17 x 9.5 x 4.5 cm and 8.3 x 5.5 x 4.5 cm
Q: What were some of the foundation ideas for this exhibition project?
A: The exhibition Urbanus developed from our international submission to the Impact 12 Printmaking Conference in Bristol in 2022. The theme that Open Bite Printmakers chose from the options given by the organisers of the conference was “Printability and Transmutability”. In early 2022 we were still reeling from the shock of lockdown due to COVID. The idea that the restricted access artists had to their usual communities and environments had transformed their art practice was an interesting hook.
This exhibition grew from there. The original collaborative work, carried out by 18 artists, has now been extended to include another seven printmakers who have added their responses to the theme.
Q: How did the artwork selection take place?
A: Urban environments encompass diversity and multiplicity. For this project, Open Bite Printmakers were encouraged to respond to the exaggerated transformation that was rife throughout our towns and cities during the confusion of the pandemic. Artists, many of whom were separated from their workshops and studios, were presented with the challenge of looking at our environment and our art practice through the dual prisms of inhibition and inspiration. The transformative power of changes in the environment is reflected in our art practice. Isolation meant personal boundaries were scrutinised and the necessity for exploration of new methods provided the impetus to question our comfort zones.
Q: How does the exhibition manifest – what do visitors experience?
A: A large wall of prints and printed sculptures forms a comprehensive collection of techniques, concepts and philosophies revolving around notions of the urban environment. It is a strong and thought-provoking work, powerful in its size and its black and white colour scheme. The uniform size of individual prints adds to its strength, at the same time inviting a closer look at each artist’s work and approach.
Companion 2D and 3D works, addressing the same idea of urban presence, surround and compliment the central work, adding colour and contrast. Cranes, staircases, buildings, windows, urban vistas and social commentary all sit with whimsy, environmental concern, history and mystery, and together they all challenge the viewer to observe their own impressions of the urban landscape.
Q: What are some of the key works and what subject matter do they deal with?
A: The key work is a large wall of 52 prints and sculptures showcasing a variety of print techniques rendered in a limited palette of black, white and grey. These works, both 2D and 3D, present a strong visual impact in their massed hanging. In addition, there will be a selection of 2D framed works and 3D pieces that build on the same notion of the urban environment – this time with colour and again displaying a range of different techniques such as etching, collagraph, woodblock, Mokuhanga, screenprinting, linocut, digital, ceramics and monoprints/monotypes.
Q: What is it about the printmaking experience that you most appreciate?
A: The printmaking experience is different for each of our members. For some it is taking an idea and pursuing it, playing with the image to find the best technique that gives the desired result. For others it is the process of developing the plate itself, and for many, it is the meditative action of inking the plate to really discover the power of the image. Not always smooth sailing, often full of surprises, the reward is the finished image.
URBANUS, a group exhibition by Open Bite Printmakers, is at Art Space on the Concourse, 409 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood, 6-17 December.
Opening Event: 5-7 pm, Friday 8 December. Guest Speaker: Roslyn Kean
Printmaking Demonstration: 2pm, Saturday 9 December. Artist: Trish Yates
The exhibition will be at New England Regional Art Museum in Armidale 9 February-7 April 2024.
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