Prints and Drawing
The subject of the Harvest works, themeda triandra or kangaroo grass, was once a valuable food source for First Nations Aboriginal peoples and was widely husbanded and harvested across large parts of Australia. It is one of the most distinctive and beautiful of native grasses and in the Southern Highlands of NSW where I live it is also an iconic marker of the seasons. In Summer its green shoots contrast against the creams and browns of other pastures and then with the first frosts of Autumn it turns a distinctive brownish pink.
The Harvest works began as part of a print project undertaken by the Southern Highlands Printmakers in 2017. Each participant chose an artist, ranging from pre-colonial times to the recent past, who had connections to the Southern Highlands area. Rosalie Gascoigne was an easy choice for me as she is one of my favourite artists. I worked with two compositional strategies she often employed, a grid and the use of multiples and repetition. Using kangaroo grass also fitted the brief – it referenced some of her work and is found across the Southern Highlands.
Multi-plate woodblock, pencil on natural-dyed watercolour paper
48 pieces forming a 105cm square. Unique State. 2017
Ancient Harvest II
wood and lino block prints with chine collé and pencil on Hahnemuhle etching paper
Mounted on 20cm square primed and sealed timber blocks. 108 cm x 108 cm. 2019
Themeda Studies 1 – 4
Multi-plate woodblock prints, pencil on natural-dyed watercolour paper
Each 47cm x 20cm. Unique States. 2018
Triptych. Multi-plate woodblock, with pencil on 300 gsm Hahnemuhle etching paper
54cm x 164 cm. Unique State. 2019
Into the Forest
One of the challenges for me in trying to capture the spirit and character of the bush is how to create the feeling of depth and being surrounded by trees together with the complexity of the forest environment. In this work I used multiple images and layered them so that certain aspects are revealed, other elements are partly hidden and a complex web of views and details combine to form the forest. It consists of 83 separate pieces grouped into four layers and hung on strings from a part of an old abandoned piano. I liked these tangential references to a musical instrument as the piece is in a sense a hymn to the forest.
Relief and intaglio prints, stencil, wash, hand colour, wood, piano components, linen string
155 x 120cm
The Tree in Changing Light
A series of collaborative prints made with fellow printmaker Kathryn Orton. Two printmakers, innumerable layers of ink, countless surprises.
This collaboration evolved out of our a shared love of trees – their presence in the landscape, forms, textures, changing moods, their sense of spirit and place – and specifically, out of a morning spent drawing a stand of ancient angophoras in the bush where I then lived, above the Araluen valley near Braidwood.
Working to an agreed format and (ever expanding) colour range, we independently translated these and other studies into printed works on paper. Then we exchanged the prints and continued developing the images, printing more layers over each other’s work. In some cases the prints were exchanged again and worked further. Along the way there were numerous discussions and digressions.
The final result is a set of over 50 works, which while standing independently as separate images, are far more than the sum of their parts when assembled together. They are shown here grouped into eight blocks as they were first exhibited. There is also a specific website dedicated to this project where each print can be viewed individually.
The Tree in Changing Light: Numbers 17, 15, 57, 34, 24, 9, 47, 33, 29
Multiple block relief prints
Landscape images 47.5 cm x 79cm, portrait images 79cm x 47.5 cm
Printed on Hahnemuhle etching paper
Each print is a unique state collaboration between Marianne Courtenay and Kathryn Orton
View further images:
View the dedicated website here
This is an ongoing series exploring the forest and surrounding area where I live. I am interested in drawing on small details that are easily passed over or ignored and rearranging and magnifying these in ways that give them a heightened significance – a sense of ritual importance.
Pigment prints. 50 cm square
Printed on archival Rag Etch paper
Each in a limited edition of 20
The Fragments series arose out of an initial discovery of broken china dating back to the gold-fields days of the 19th Century and extended into an excursion into family, memorabilia and memory. The circular form gathered up the dissembled fragments into a re-assembled domestic shape – possibly a plate – which seemed a suitable metaphor for ideas of fragmentation, re-gathering and memory.
Pigment prints 50 cm square
Printed on archival Rag Etch paper
Each in a limited edition of 20
These works were inspired by the Greek Islands and Crete following a 6 weeks sojourn there in 2005. Away from the big cities and particularly in the colder months when the tourists have left, the past constantly seems to rub up against the present – in the way people still do things according to age old customs and in the traces of past worlds embedded in the land itself – time-worn stones pushing through brambles and grass on bare headlands or pottery shards half buried in the furrows of a farmer’s ploughed field or rolling softly in the lapping waves on an empty beach. I wanted to capture this feeling of the past coexisting with the present and also celebrate the strange and silent beauty of some of the ancient Cycladic and Minoan forms.
Collagraph, chine collé, collage, pencil on etching paper and canvas. Unique states.
Each work 25.5cm x 20.5cm
The Little Creek
This series of four works is a variation on traditional Japanese woodblock printing traditions and subject matter. Each image involves four separately carved woodblocks and in the tradition of Japanese screens the images link together to make a continuous line, moving through the seasons reading from right to left from Autumn, through Summer and Spring to finish with Winter, or in the Western tradition starting with Winter on the left and finishing with Autumn on the right. The prints also connect vertically to form a block as shown below.
The Little Creek: Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn
Woodblock prints. Each image 25 cm x 34 cm
Printed on handmade ‘Silk on banana’ paper in an edition of 15
Forest, high plains, rolling hills and mountains are all typical of the southern highlands of New South Wales. The eastern side of the range is ancient granite country marked by great boulders looking as if they have been strewn across the landscape like so many marbles. But in fact it is the erosion of the surface soils over eons that has exposed the rocks as they are today- silent witnesses to earlier times, landscapes and the traditional indigenous owners of the land who have trodden its hills and valleys for thousands of years.
Collagraph prints with pencil hand colour
Printed on Fabriano Tieopolo paper and mounted on canvas
25 cm x 20 cm each
Nine Views of Mt. Canobolas
This work continues my preoccupation with the passage of time – the great age of this country and how it endures despite the enormous changes that it has undergone. Mount Canobolas is one of the main symbols of the Orange area and I used the central mass of the mountain to convey this sense of continuity – while the land use and seasons change, the mountain remains constant and impassive. The use of a series of views of the mountain also draws oblique parallels, albeit ironic, with one of the great works of classical Japanese printmaking – Hokusai’s Thirty-Six Views of Mt Fuji.
There are two versions of this work. The first version, Nine Views of Mount Canobolas, was produced for the 150th anniversary of the City of Orange – the artist’s proof is in the permanent collection of the Orange Regional Gallery. The second version, Printhie – Nine Views of Mount Canobolas, undertaken for Printhie Wines, also in the Orange area, comprises two new works and the reworking of seven images from the earlier work.
Printhie: Nine Views of Mt. Canobolas
Pigment prints. Each image 41 cm x 58.5 cm
Printed on Hahnemuhle 300gsm paper. Edition 20
Echoes from a Lost World
These works probe what lies within the forests and farmlands of Central Western New South Wales – hidden traces, lost knowledge, and the unseen forces resonant in the landscape.
Some reference the land’s great age – ancient seas, rivers, forests and the life they supported. Some speak to the enduring spiritual presence and material record of the Wiradjuri First Nations people and some to the dark history of their dispossession. Others speak of more recent losses as our rivers dry up and cease to flow.
The choice of the collagraph print technique allows me to take elements from the land itself (leaves, bark, grasses, rusty metal, scraps of timber) and use these textures and forms to build the image. Thus the prints, like the history embedded in and printed on the land, speak through the record of marks and impressions left on the paper.
60 x 45cm (portrait), 45 x 60cm (landscape)
Each in an edition of 12
Prior to European contact the Wiradjuri nation among others used carved tree trunks to mark sites of ceremonial and cultural significance. An area of bark was removed from the tree and the wood beneath carved in a range of geometric patterns. If the tree subsequently died the patterns remained intact, but if it continued to grow the bark could gradually heal over the carving wrapping it within the heart of the tree. This was perhaps increasingly the case as the Wiradjuri nation were driven from their land by colonial settlement and sites could not be cared for. In the Spirit Tree works I wanted to express this sense that the carved trees themselves were sheltering and hiding these treasures from violation and abuse.
61 x 45cm (portrait), 45 x 61cm (landscape)
Each in an edition of 12
Windows on Japan
Beautiful screens of all sorts are very much part of the Japanese aesthetic being used to both shield certain things from view and in other cases to highlight a particular object or aspect of a wider scene. These small works employ this device to show particular details of domestic life or the landscape and in some cases to intimate that there is more that we cannot see. For me the idea of screening and revealing also resonated with the sense that we all inevitably see the world through our own cultural filters.
Watercolour and gilding on recycled silk paper
15cm square each