Thursday, 3 May 2012

Fourfold at The Light Factory Gallery, Eltham

I've been to see an excellent print exhibition a week or so ago - Fourfold at The Light Factory Gallery in Eltham. A green-belt suburb on the outer-north of Mebourne, Eltham has a reputation and history as a hub of artisitic activity. While Montsalvat, the artist-community established by Justus Jorgensen in the 1930s, remains a thriving focus for the area, today there are  few other galleries in Eltham.  The Light Factory Gallery, though only a couple of years old, is embedded in Eltham's history as the building was designed by Alistair Knox.  It's quite a beautiful building and makes a wonderful gallery with banks of windows up at roof-level that fill the space with light.
The current exhibition is called Fourfold, an exhibition of four printmakers. Kate Hudson, Clare Humphries, Violeta Capovska and Georgia Thorpe all work in relief printmaking, but with a great diversity in style and aesthetic.  Hudson's black and white linocut prints of floral still-lifes recall the work of Margaret Preston with their crisp lines, patterning and  stylisation of forms.  Preston hand coloured her flowers after printing in black, while Hudson offers both simple black and white and multi-coloured examples using the reduction technique.   In other works pairs of birds set within a network of foliage are similarly decorative - and I don't consider that a perjorative term at all!  See some of her works from the exhibition here.
Clare Humphries' linocut prints offer simple objects which emerge from a dark ground.  Central to her current practice is the idea  that objects, often quite simple objects, that belonged to deceasd loved ones may hold some essence or tactile memory of their owners.  Her process is time consuming and exacting, involving creating a reduction linoprint of an object such as a handkerchief or a thimble, overprinting it with layers of black ink and then hand burnishing so that the object re-emerges from the darkness.  Content and process are inextricably linked; the objects lost beneath the surface of the ink, but recovered (as a memory?) through the laborious process of burnishing.
Examples of the works in this exhibition can be seen here.
Violeta Capovska's large-scale images of flowers, tightly framed, reminiscent of some of Georgia O'Keefe's paintings are printed in severeal shades of violet, suggesting highly enlarged magazine photographs. I read that her work explores cultural approaches towards the female body and this would also suggest a connection to the work of Georgia O'Keefe. Some of Capovska's work can be seen here. 
Georgia Thorpe

 I was perhaps most attracted to Georgia Thorpe's work - large prints, richly coloured, layered,  textured, and artist's books printed on soft mulberry paper.   The main compositional elements of the  prints are woodcuts, with layers of intaglio texture, and hand colouring added. As this method of working might suggest, Thorpe does not generally produce editions of prints, but rather series of ‘unique states.’  She also showed a groups of fascinating altered books - quite old stab-bound Japanese script books, a couple of which contained the libretto (perhaps not quite the correct term) for Noh play - an ancient Japanese masked theatre combining drama, music and dance.  The books are quite beautiful and fascinating objects in themselves.  Thorpe has inserted her prints of knots and dipped the books in dark dyes, adding to their mystery.Some of her work can be seen here.


  1. I love Clare Humphries' prints and what an interesting technique. Thank you Penny for introducing me to her work.

    1. Yes,her work is technically quite amazing. When I first saw her work I had great trouble believing that they were linocuts. They're very impressive.