November 17 – December 13  2017

The Southern Tablelands between Sydney and Goulburn has always attracted artists and this was the starting point for a terrific exhibition of contemporary prints by the 25 members of the Southern Highlands Printmakers opened by Dr Anne Sanders at Goulburn Regional Art Gallery on Friday 17th November. Each participant chose an artist from a list of over 30 (now deceased) artists ranging from colonial times to the recent past, who had connections to the Southern Highlands area. The brief was loose: to create a print work inspired by some aspect of the life or work of the chosen artist.  Artists included painters, sculptors, potters, and photographers.

Some of the printmakers  have responded to the broad body of the chosen artist’s works. Linda Bottari, for example, has two sensitive print interpretations of Gwyn Hanssen Pigott’s ceramics.  Some have focused on a particular aspect of an artist’s work as in Alan Purdom’s large scale piece  inspired by Ralph Balson’s colour palette.  Others have been inspired by subject matter. Lucia Parrella’s triptych, for example, extends the themes in Arthur Boyd’s set of collagraphs based on an Indonesian myth of a boy eaten by a volcano.  It weaves links between this and wider preoccupations of Boyd’s in a work that in Parrella’s words ‘also reaches back to classical mythology… to speak of metamorphosis, calamity and the precariousness of our life on earth’.  Hanna Quinlivan has made a three dimensional piece inspired by a detail in a particular painting by Grace Cossington Smith – a solitary dead gum tree that for Quinlivan resonates with a similar ‘stag tree’ near her studio. Her response is a delicate interpretation of the tree’s ageing heart-wood folding its history in on itself.

The assemblages of Rosalie Gascoigne were the starting point for my piece in the exhibition.  It was not a difficult choice as I love her work.  Ancient Harvest uses two compositional strategies that Gascoigne often employed – a grid and repetition.  The subject, Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra) was husbanded by Aboriginal people in pre-colonial times across the country that was the inspiration and source for so much of Gascoigne’s work while a number of her assemblages reference or incorporate dried grasses. The work is made up of 48 pieces of dyed paper overlaid with woodblock printing.  Two reduction plates were used to make the complete print which was then finished with the addition of hand colouring.

The work in the exhibition is very diverse and presenting it to best advantage was a challenge but the gallery’s new curator, Andre De Borde, has done a wonderful job.  There is also an accompanying catalogue with an excellent introductory essay by Anne Sanders.  The show will travel in 2019 to Griffith and Orange Regional Galleries

Above:  Marianne Courtenay – ‘Ancient Harvest- detail’  
Below: Marianne Courtenay – ‘Ancient Harvest’ - - dyed paper, reduction woodblock, pencil  105 x 105 cm  Unique State  2017