In the seventies, I was writing letters and poems, protesting and pleading against the clear-felling and wood-chipping of native forests in Gippsland, where the Leadbeater’s Possum lived in the hollows of dead or living trees. Since the mid eighties there has been an 80% decrease in numbers of this cute little possum, with none now known to be living in Gippsland. Forty years later, I’m making art in this little guy’s honour for the Animalia Print Exchange , the proceeds of sales going to the World Animal Protection organisation.
Listed as Critically Endangered, and now found only in pockets within our natural forests in Central Victoria, the future looks grim for this Aussie mammal. Despite a ‘Recovery Plan’ being put in place in 2015, the Victorian Government is still allowing the decimation of the Leadbeater’s Possum’s habitat.
As with all aspects of life, some printing days are truly golden, with everything working well. Others… well, let’s just say the frustration levels hit unsurpassed heights.
The baby Leadbeater’s Possum is finished, though not quite how I envisioned it. I am disappointed in the lack of tonal difference between the dark and mid-tone flesh of the fingers. I printed the darkest colour first, but felt it needed another variation in shadow, so cut away what I would leave the darkest tone and re-inked with what I thought was a mid tone. It looked okay when first printed, but after a week of drying, the colour had darkened, leaving little variation. It is done in the reduction method, which is indeed the ‘suicide’ method. I had already cut away those mid-tone sections before taking a week off. No going back once the lino is in slivers on the studio floor!
I did consider cutting an extra block to either darken the darkest, or lighten the mid tone, but the prints are for an exchange and needed to dry for mailing. Neither was I confident in getting a second, replica block the exact size for registration (lining up) purposes. Such is life, at least the life, some days, of this printmaker. Still, I guess my mistake makes the little possum the main focus of the print, which is what it’s all about.