Published on December 13th, 2021 | by Adrian Gunning
New Australian Printmaking exhibition: Megan Cope, Shaun Gladwell, Tim Maguire and Patricia Piccinini
Featuring a groundbreaking series of prints by Megan Cope, Shaun Gladwell, Tim Maguire and Patricia Piccinini, the forthcoming exhibition at NGV Australia, New Australian Printmaking, launches the work created by these artists during the Australian Print Workshop Artist Fellowship program.
Established by the Australian Print Workshop (APW), this major fellowship program is the most significant of its kind in Australia and was awarded annually between 2017 and 2021. The Fellowship enabled these leading Australian artists to research, develop and create a new body of work in the print medium.
The exhibition presents sixty-eight prints, which have been co-commissioned by the NGV and APW, and is the first to feature all works produced over the last four years. The Fellowship offered these four artists, renowned for their work in other mediums, the opportunity to expand their practice into new territory and to collaborate with APW’s master printers. The exhibition will also provide audiences with a fascinating insight into the collaborative process of making prints through supplementary material, including printing plates, proofs and filmed documentary footage of the artists and printers in the studio.
Patricia Piccinini, who had never engaged with printmaking before, completed the Fellowship in 2018–19. In collaboration with APW printers she created two suites of colour prints. The first, titled the Weavers’ Suite, used etching and lithography to bring a new inflection to her long-standing investigation of nature, the body and the uncanny. Her second series features her provocative Skywhale family hovering over a variety of brightly coloured landscapes and combines hand-drawn and computer-generated images to create a suite of lithographs.
Shaun Gladwell’s prints extend his longstanding interest in street culture, technology and the physical limits of the body. Using a range of traditional and digital print techniques, as well as new media, Gladwell produced three suites of prints in 2018-2019 that are his most ambitious to date. One of these series, featuring the artist’s iconic skull imagery, was developed using a 360-degree camera.
In a series of vibrant colour intaglio prints produced during his fellowship in 2020–21, Tim Maguire has taken his recent body of work Dice Abstracts to new ground. Deriving from six simple charcoal drawings and using only the three primary colours cyan, magenta and yellow, the composition of each print was determined by the roll of dice – resulting in an extraordinary and unexpected range of colour combinations.
Megan Cope undertook her Fellowship in 2021. Her project takes the form of two monumental colour lithographs featuring her signature use of geological maps from the colonial period and inscriptions of Indigenous place names in nineteenth-century typeface. These works extend her research-based practice that investigates issues relating to cultural identity and the environment.
Tony Ellwood AM, Director of the NGV, said: ‘The NGV is proud to be a commissioning partner of the Australian Print Workshop Artist Fellowship program. This initiative has revealed the surprising and unexpected ways that printmaking can expand the practice of contemporary artists working today, as well as the consummate skill of APW’s team of master printers. This exhibition is a wonderful and timely celebration of prints and the important national role the Australian Print Workshop plays in supporting artists and Australian printmaking.’
Anne Virgo OAM, CEO + Artistic Director of the APW, said: ‘We are excited that Australian Print Workshop’s Fellowship program has been realised to coincide with our 40th anniversary. Collaborating with Megan Cope, Shaun Gladwell, Tim Maguire and Patricia Piccinini to create four major bodies of work has been a rewarding process, and a fitting acknowledgement of APW’s commitment to innovation and excellence. We are confident that this commitment will continue to inspire artists to create prints that challenges, inspires and delights…for the next 40 years.”
New Australian Printmaking will be on display from 13 May to 11 September 2022 at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. Free entry. Further information is available via the NGV website: NGV.MELBOURNE
The Australian Print Workshop Artist Fellowship Program was generously assisted by: a Bequest from the Estate of Beverley Shelton and her late husband Martin Schönthal; the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body; the National Gallery of Victoria; and The Ursula Hoff Institute.