The current design I am working on is one based around Grevillea rhyolitica – or the Deua Grevillea which is a grevillea endemic to south-eastern NSW. this has long been a favourite Grevillea of mine to photograph especially when visiting the Eurobodalla Botanic Gardens near Batemans Bay NSW. It has beautiful delicate falling red flowers.
In my more recent work I have been pushing my drawings and interest in Australian wildflowers into design/patternwork. Taking my drawings and simplifying and expanding them, I have been playing with various ideas for Grevillea rhyolitca for about 12 months now. In this particular work I am playing with positive & negative spaces and imagining ways to play on the shapes and patterns of the original plant & the photographs I have taken of them over many years.
I am hoping to revive this blog using some of my Instagram posts. In recent busy & more demanding times I have found it hard to keep up with this blog in amongst everything else. But Instagram has been a more immediate media to display my work and inspiration. I also value the platform as a way to connect to others & in particular to other artists & printmakers.
This image shows my template for the linocut which I have traced alongside the new piece of lino which I will transfer the design to using tracing paper. Oh & one of my photographs I have taken as inspiration for this this particular artwork.
I was asked a little while ago about my the ‘series’ or ‘collections’ of works that I like to create, which got me thinking more about why I like working this way. My main motivation at face value was pretty simple – I like to create several smaller works that can be hung or presented together so they can be seen individually or as part of a larger multi-work artwork but I think there is perhaps a little more to it than that simple explanation.
When I was beginning my exploration of the linocut/relief printing medium for my artwork I was very conscious of what I see as the strong influence of Margaret Preston in the medium of linocut/woodcut & wildflowers. She created a vision for linocuts & wildflowers which has had a profound impact & influence on many artists working in the medium of linocuts. Many linocut artists have continued to work within the influence of still-life or wildflowers in vases but I made a conscious choice to not take this path. So I deliberately put away any images I had of Margaret Preston’s work, and in fact any images of other linocut artists particularly those who used Wildflowers as their subject matter. I wanted to explore & develop my own vision. I have a deep love of wildflowers in particular & they are my passion within my artwork. I love to explore not only the endless variety of Australian flora but also explore different ways two represent them within my artwork.
I have always worked hard at my drawing skills which underpins my linocuts, and I made a deliberate decision to study drawing alongside watercolours with some traditional water colourists.
I spent a few years attending workshops including with the wonderful artist & teacher Tom Offord. He was a regular tutor at the Grafton Artsfest & I attended several of his workshops, alongside other tutors – Jenny Macnaughton (watercolours), Jocelyn Maughan (drawing), Robin Norling (drawing) & Gillian Scott (botanical art). I wanted to develop & refine not just my own vision as an artist but also my skills base particularly in drawing & working with watercolours. It is interesting that watercolours was never taught at my art college back on the 1980’s & was frowned upon as ‘too traditional’ which is a great shame. I have however used the skills I gained with watercolour classes & workshops within the handpainting of my linocuts and within my drawing/illustration work.
I find I like to at times set myself a challenge within my arts practice – to work within a particular ‘frame’ or design/layout for a particular work or set/collection of works. I often explore what I think of as ‘windows’ – windows both of design & vision for exploring & representing wildflowers in particular. So I create these ‘frames’ and then set a challenge to explore how I can capture some essential essence of the wildflower (or wildlife) within that frame for window.
I push the parameters of the actual frames so that the wildflower is both contained & breaks out of the ‘frames, you can see above. An example of pushing the image beyond the frames can be seen in these two rainforest images of a Golden Penda and Firewheel Tree.
I also use ‘series’ of prints to create images for my wildflowers cards.
In some of my new work which I hope to move into in 2014, I am pushing some of the limits of these frames & my passion for wildflowers into new areas of visual exploration.
The Gymea Lily is an iconic Sydney wildflower and was a favourite of mine when I roamed around the bushland of Loftus growing up. The tall flower spike with the deep pinkish/red flower spike was a like a beacon and provided a great reference point when exploring. The flower spike is now used by florists and is a dramatic addition to large spectacular arrangements.
Now that I live in Northern NSW a common sight is the ‘sister’ to the Gymea Lily – Doryanthes excelsa – it is the Spear Lily – Doryanthes palmeri – which I grow in my garden.
The Gymea Lily is on the left & the Spear Lily on the right.
I have used the tall spectacular Gymea Lily flowers spike as the central focus of this work and added wildlfowers from around Australia.
Included are – the NSW Waratah, Flannel Flowers & Wax Flowers, the Western Australian emblem – Mangles Kangaroo Paw, Firewood Banksia, Geraldton Wax, the Hybrid Eucalyptus ‘Summer Beauty’ and the Australian Floral Emblem – Golden Wattle – Acacia pycnantha.
Gymea Lily Wildflowers
This design has been in the making since 2009!! I had started it & then got sidetracked with a busy schedule with family and it was something that I had always wanted to complete.
I have a number of projects that have been long term like this one which I am slowly working through & finalising alongside plenty of more new ideas!
Some of the ‘old but new’ work I will be working through in the next couple of months including some more contemporary work which is lovely to be developing finally!
This work will be part of my February exhibition at the Northern Rivers community Gallery in Ballina.