Life is manic as I prepare for a one-off exhibition. Not a solo exhibition, but one that will share with others over 200 original prints, collected through international exchanges over almost a decade. As a printmaker, and a rare duck in my creative pond, it is always exciting to receive a package of work from other printmakers around the world. It is akin to having my own private viewing. Presented in various techniques – woodcut, etching, mezzotint, linocut, engraving, etc. – each print presents a different way of viewing aspects of the world. So, I thought, why not let others share the collection?
Home Is Where The hall Is, an initiative of Regional Arts Victoria, celebrates community creativity and the small country halls throughout my home state. A perfect marriage for a unique exhibition. Not only can others come along and view the prints, but I can also raise a few dollars towards the upkeep of the Sandford Mechanics Hall. In a small town devoid of post office, general store, or even a working pub, our hall is an icon. It deserves being used.
Although the prints in the collection are small works, there was the issue of displaying them, unmounted, unframed. I wanted something quirky and fun and came up with a plan. Implementing it was something else. I’ll have a go at most things, but my woodworking skills leave a bit to be desired in the accuracy department. I enlisted the help of an old friend who was a carpenter’s apprentice when I first met him over four decades ago, and a current member of the Harrow Men’s Shed. We collaborated on my idea and he came up with a design, and constructed the portable hanging frames. I now have six ‘washing lines’ as a display system. Woohoo!
The prints being original art, and not wanting the collection to become inadvertently damaged by handling (I know we all love to touch to discover and learn), the next hurdle was protection. In keeping with the casual-quirkiness of the exhibition, I chose plastic sleeves. This also means I have uniformity to work out prints-to-a-line.
With a type of indoor-backyard theme happening, I decided I needed birds flying above the ‘washing’. It took a bit of working out to do the linocut to produce a (reasonably) symmetrical and fold-able print. Plus there was the need for detail showing on front and back of the wings. A bit of double handling while printing on old book ages, and a flock was fledged. I’m also doing a limited edition of hand-coloured ‘flying wren books’ on proper printing paper. Still working on the logistics for the innards….
None of the prints from the collection will be for sale, but visitors to exhibitions usually expect something available for purchase. So, it’s a manic time in the studio, producing some new prints, cards, and other printed goodies. While doing demos over the exhibition weekend, I’ll offer a ‘make and take’ experience for anyone who wants to have a go at printing.
Two weeks left in which to label collection prints, paint the clothes lines – bright, happy colours, of course – segregate flocks into family groups, make more flowers for the ‘garden beds’, work out and cut a fun block for the make-and-take, and print, print, print. Leave a message and I’ll call you in a fortnight!