Reviews, News and Commentary

Proof: A celebration of contemporary prints in New Zealand

Reviewed by John Daly-Peoples

Proof: Two Decades of Printmaking

Print Council Aotearoa New Zealand 

Massey University Press

RRP $70

Reviewed by John Daly-Peoples

For many New Zealanders their first artwork will have been an artist’s print. This relatively low-cost artwork will often have been the beginning of life-long buying of art and many major collectors will note that their first limited edition print will have been the start of their collections.

The Barry Lett Multiples, a set of 12 prints which were produced in 1968 by the art dealer Barry Lett became a central feature of many early collections and were on display in many institutions such as secondary schools. The set of prints included major artists such as Colin McCahon,  Pat Hanly and Don Binney.

The artist’s print was generally a silk screen print, an etching or wood cut but in the last few years there has been an increase in the enrage of techniques with the emergence  of digital media, hybrid prints with new production methods, materials and inks.

The printed image has long historical, political and social associations where it has been used to address political, social, aesthetic and personal issues. The invention of photography and screen-printing had an enormous impact on the art world, especially in the 1960s, and many significant artists have worked with commercial printing to both lift standards and to feature strongly in their studio production. New technologies continue to be explored by artists, and this is increasingly so for  printmakers.

Robin White, Kereru, (2011)

Printmaking in New Zealand has a long history and has been taught in the various art schools   and other institutions such as the Auckland Society of Arts. and the Whanganui Regional Community Polytechnic (WRCP). There was also ben the NZ Print Council established by Kees Hos and Dr Walter Auburn which operated between 1964 and 1977,

It was out of the WRCP that a new group of printmakers developed in the 1990’s. This organisation became Print Council Aotearoa New Zealand  in 2000, promoting printmaking and printmakers

To celebrate more than twenty years of its history a new book “Proof” has been published featuring  some of the best examples of contemporary fine art printmaking in the country today. With 180 works by 127 artists, “Proof” covers the breadth of printmaking processes and display the diversity of this artform, from the more traditional woodcuts and etchings to those pushing the boundaries of print.

With a foreword by Susanna Shadbolt, Director of Aratoi, Masterton, an essay on the history of printmaking in New Zealand by Carole Shepheard and one on the history of PCANZ the book provides a useful overview of the current state of printmaking in the country.

Stanley Palmer, From Maungawahau (2003)

Along with  a list of significant exhibitions, and a glossary of printmaking terms and techniques this book is something of a catalogue of New Zealand’s major print artists with full colour plates and biographies of the artist. It is a valuable resource for art lovers students and teachers.

Among the more than one hundred artists included in the book Prooa few are given greater status as  Honorary Member – Barry Cleavin, Dee Copland, Rodney Fumpston, Mark Graver Stanley Palmer, Carole Shepheard, Gary Tricker  and Robin White.

By johndpart

Arts reviewer for thirty years with the National Business Review

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