Still In Our Nature - 4 Intaglio Printmakers - 4 Interpretations of the Natural World

Posted by Erin O'Malley on

                                                                A liminal space - Mezzotint 2022

Nan Mulder

“We live in two worlds; an external and internal world. In my work these intermingle. Through one, I try to explore the other”

In a recent article in Printmaking Today, Richard Noyce wrote: ‘this duality forms the key in understanding Nan Mulder’s work’. The hidden ‘inside’ world is explored through nature or natural elements. It can allude to the core of the self or evoke memories, longings and emotions.

With the passing of the years that explanatory outside world has begun to merge with the lingering uncertainty of the world in which we live. The images of the glacier lagoons of Iceland tell us not only about climate change and the precariousness of the environment and the changing times we all share, but their expanse and scale invite us also to be aware of a more personal, inner and physical, changing reality.

                                                       Elsewhere Hillside III - drypoint 2023

Kyla Cresswell

‘After 16 years living in Wellington, in 2021 I moved south, first to Murihiku Southland then Ōtepoti Dunedin, thus reconnecting with my southern roots. Thinking about the value of place, I was drawn to the importance of waterways and the way they are like essential veins through the land.

I have also long held an interest in cartography and the presentation of landforms. As part of the research for the 2022 William Hodges Fellowship I studied maps of Waihōpai Invercargill and Murihiku. Maps locate personal histories, show us how nature or human intervention has reshaped a place. Maps simplify waterways to outlines and lines, bush to colours or basic shapes. I am drawn to these essential graphic motifs. Islands of bush in vast areas of development create an organic form distinctly different to the hard lines of planned land use, highlighting the preciousness of this vegetation.’

Kyla Cresswell's practice relates back to the land. It is grounded in the space where she stands. Her work over the past two decades has often reflected on challenges faced by the natural environment, focusing on nature’s fragility, tenacity and resilience.

In mezzotints and drypoints she has been exploring the shapes of the bush and waterways – referencing maps as well as aerial photographs. Kyla has always been drawn to a pared down aesthetic and through a variety of printmaking techniques she explores the micro and macro of our natural world.

            He Listened While He Watched - Drypoint 2023

Catherine Macdonald

These works take inspiration from Catherine Macdonald's environment and its inhabitants, her drypoints capture everyday moments in time and the atmosphere around the experience. They are imbued with a sense of connection. Some of the inhabitants of her work we are aware of and notice, they on the other hand keep a wary eye on us.

‘A love of drawing brought me to printmaking and the challenge of creating fluid lines has kept me engaged with it. I work mostly with drypoint an intaglio process, it is direct, the lines you scratch into the plate make up the image.’

                                                           Save - Photopolymer Etching 2023

Prue MacDougall

Elements of the natural world seem to be ever present in MacDougall's work. They appear to act as an elemental force - sometimes conspiring, playing, resting, nudging us towards an idea that we are entwined in a world that despite our assumed dominance we do not control. 

A recurring motif in the work is the incorporation of folklore and fantasy. These other world inclusions evoke within her work an ancient and mythical atmosphere. She enjoys juxtaposing recognisable forms within unusual and often magical contexts. Her current focus is on the significance of trees for humanity, emphasising their essential role in fostering our well-being and sense of connection to our place in the world.

Prue MacDougall’s artistry is a fusion of photography, hand-drawn elements, and collage. Her pieces are characterized by a rich tonal range, featuring deep, velvety blacks that stand out against the stark white of the background paper. Prue honed her skills in etching with zinc plate and nitric acid at the Elam School of Fine Arts. However, she has recently transitioned to using photopolymer plates. These are steel sheets coated with a light-sensitive polymer. The process involves placing a positive transparent film of artwork on the plate and exposing it to ultraviolet light.

Opening Event Thursday 2nd November 6-8pm

Exhibition Tuesday 31 October - Saturday 18th November

View exhibition


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