Portraits and Palimpsest opens 21 February 2019

Posted by Fiona Cable on

Pushing the boundaries of printmaking, Portraits and Palimpsest, blurs the lines between painting and printing. A depth of experience allows for this embracing of all forms of contemporary and traditional printmaking process. Unconventional yet competent, Susan Hurrell-fieldes and Jacqueline Aust’s years of knowledge and focus is evident in the work.

Pursuing a range of concerns from the aesthetic and formal, to the self and the personal, creates a dynamic dialogue between the two.

Susan Hurrell-fieldes work is autobiographical, influenced to large extent by her life in New Zealand and her work in New York. Over the years she has accumulated a growing library of leitmotifs to express her world, these form the basis of her work. There is an element of the innate and instinctual, drawing is integral, showing the human hand and spirit in the work.

                         Susan Hurrell-fieldes

Various printmaking methods have been employed in the making of these pieces. Hurrell-fieldes is is currently drawn to dry-point etching, in this case on Mylar or aluminium. Her pieces are singly inked then processed through the press and individually constructed into unique combinations. There is no way two pieces can be the same.

There is nothing that says 'I am here' as simply or directly as a gestural mark. Autographic marks can express a sense of individuality, captured in a moment. In an art world where print is ubiquitous, printmaking discussions are constantly peppered with questions about the mechanics of production and the autographic effect of the artist's unique mark on the aesthetic of numerous reproductions. Jacqueline Aust’s work explores the relationship between autographic mark making, a response to place, and the mechanics of making multiple images. “In recent years I have been building a series of work that chart the navigation of new environments. Each journey begins with marks inscribed in a matrix, a map. Accumulated layers refer to previous experience or notions of home … obscuring and revealing, tracing a path from past to future, with history as a residue to build on,” explains Aust.

                                   Jacqueline Aust

Following an invitation to exhibit at Railway Street Studios Aust realised she would be away from her studio for much of the preparation time. Creating new work for an exhibition would therefore rely on her being able to draw on research processes other than printmaking. Drawing on plywood boards provided a solution. Aust carried a set of boards with paints and drawing materials about with her while holidaying in Northland.

 Aust had begun painting on plywood boards following a recent trip to Japan. The processes of painting/drawing then scratching and sanding back to build an image while retaining the evidence of the original surface began to mimic the layered effect of my printmaking.

 The word "palimpsest" derives from the Latin palimpsestus, which derives from the Ancient Greek παλίμψηστος (palímpsēstos, "again scraped"), a compound word that literally means "scraped clean and ready to be used again".  Printmaking is often a process of making multiple images from one plate, or set of plates, resulting in an edition of works which are essentially the same. The interest of the processes of printmaking for Aust lies in making unique works from a set of plates so that each work has similar visual elements yet tells its own story. The process of palimpsest on the wooden boards allows the same effect.

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