Visual Arts / Prints from Studio One 1987-1996: From the Collection of Basil Hall. At Tuggeranong Arts Centre until March 29. Reviewed by KERRY-ANNE COUSINS.
This unprepossessing title cannot really do justice to the richness and wide range of artists’ prints from the collection of Basil Hall, director and manager of Studio One 1987-1996.
The works are largely drawn from Hall’s collection of printer’s proofs and other prints he accumulated as gifts and mementos. It also highlights the incredible talent of the artists that were associated with Studio One during this important period in the history of the Canberra art scene.
Studio One Printmaking Workshop in Kingston was founded by Dianne Fogwell and Meg Buchanan in 1983 and operated until 2003. The studio offered many services – printmaking workshops and classes, artist residencies and an editioning studio together with a vibrant environment for everyone interested in the printmaking process.
The Basil Hall Collection has been organised into the different activity groups and artists that were part of Studio One. The categories – Canberra School of Art staff and Studio Colleagues, Studio One Staff, Children’s Printmaking Classes, Editioning Clients, Various Print Projects, Studio Regulars, Visiting Artists and Recipients of the EASS (Emerging Artist Scholarship Scheme) – reveal the wide ranging extent of activities at the studio.
Wandering through the work on display became a nostalgic journey, renewing my acquaintance with the work of familiar artists and remembering the independently run local galleries where these artists used to exhibit – the Ben Grady Gallery, the Giles Street Gallery and AGOG (Australian Girls Own Gallery whose former director Helen Maxwell has work of her own on display). However, this is not an exhibition wrapped in nostalgia. These works traverse time as they are as strong, vibrant and indeed relevant in their subject matter today as when they were created.
Among the works are Mandy Martin’s delicate but energetic etching of the movement of the sea (Untitled c 1987 ) – an unexpected image when seen alongside her strong dramatic etching (Rain, Steam and Speed) of the 1990s. The latter relates to her iconic paintings of that period of Australian landscapes and industrial sites.
Pam Debenham, whose early career was associated with Sydney University Tin Sheds Printmaking Studio, is well known for her anti-nuclear posters. She is represented here by a colourful woodblock called Fall from Grace depicting a classical column exploding in a riot of colourful debris.
Nature is inspiration for Tanya Myshkin. Her work Caterpillar (circa 1990) is so delicate that it seems as if it is just a breath of ink on the paper.
Jonathan Nix is represented by a dreamlike landscape (untitled) from 1996 and Robin Wallace-Crabbe by two descriptive line etchings of a mother and child.
Pamela Challis is an artist I have always admired. Her evocative prints in a series called No Small Tempest were inspired by the biblical narration of the Acts of the Apostles. I remembered her images of Patmos in Greece when I made a journey there many years later.
On display is her Japanese woodcut, The Overflowing Waterflood (circa 1989) with its sold blocks of colour and iridescent textural patterns. It is an unexpected and interesting insight into her early work.
Basil Hall is himself represented by several works. Outstanding is the image of a big snarling dog (Barking Inspector, 1989) whose savagery seems to be barely within the confines of the large etching.
In addition to Basil Hall, who now works from his studio in Braidwood, other artists in the exhibition such as GW Bot, Dianne Fogwell, Julie Bradley, Ruth Waller, John Pratt, Ben Taylor and Helen Geier continue to work and exhibit in Canberra and now it is the Megalo Print Studio that promotes printmaking and carries on the creative traditions of Studio One.
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