In the last couple of days I've seen a couple of print exhibitions well worth recommending. On Thursday night I dropped into Handheld Gallery for the opening of Janet Neilson's Close to Home. Handheld is one of my favourite spaces in Melbourne. Run by the lovely Megan Herring and her partner Adrian, it's tiny and focuses on artist's books and small objects. (I feel really embarrassed...as I typed that, trying to think of Megan's surname, I've only just realised why she publishes her own books under Little Red Fishy...Herring!) The concept of the exhibition is that the artist doesn't have to go far from home for sources of inspiration/subject matter. The works are mostly books or book-like objects, including two small series that recycle books, with pages intricately cut with the tracery of bare trees. Trees are also rendered in strong, graphic linocut prints and moodier collographs. I particularly enjoyed the concertina book - inspired by the weaving of one of Neilson's neighbours - of collographs and woven paper elements. The folded 'flat-pack' linocut prints of cheeky magpies are also pretty gorgeous. Can't resist a magpie! See a couple of tiny prints by another lover of magpies here. http://bridgetfarmer.blogspot.com.au/
and images of the exhibition at the Handheld Gallery blog http://handheldgallery.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/close-to-home-at-hand-held.htmlrk
And then on Friday I wandered about in the beautiful Melbourne Autumn sun and got to Port Jackson Press to see Groundwork, an exhibition of prints by Belinda Fox, whose work I've long admired, and collaborative works by Diana Orinda Burns, Robyn Gibson and Kir Larwill, three printmakers from around Castlemaine in central Victoria. The large-scale multi-panel collaborative works are fabulous, with simple motifs, a boat and a chicken(?) wishbone, repeated over a minimal woodcut surface - layered to created a rich surface, with strong, spare imagery.
See images at http://www.portjacksonpress.com.au/exhib.php?ex=ls1000270pjpa19083333
Dropped into 69 Smith Street as a couple of etchings by Keiko Murakami caught my eye. Her exhibition, in the front gallery is called Hanga which is apparently the Japanese word for print. She must be one of the most active printmakers around! She seems to have solo exhibitions every couple of months. I really like the works based upon the natural world, particularly the amusingly titled Just hanging out in Melbourne, with lots of fruit bats hanging in a tree, with the dome of the Exhibition Buildings in the background. You can see it here, http://www.etsy.com/listing/92673553/just-hanging-out-in-melbourne-original
Lastly, I went to No Vacancy Gallery at the QV Centre to see the Asia Pacific Mini Print exhibition. There are 4 small prints by each of 53 artists, so there is a lot to see. There's a good range of work, from 17 countries, of a very high standard, as, I think it's an open entry exhibition. There are five prizewinners, with a very decent prize pool of $25,000. Mezzotints did pretty well, although prizes also went to works in other media. I was very impressd with the hang - must have been quite a task to hang over 200 works. My only criticism is that there is no listing of the printaking techniques used.