Saturday, July 20, 2013

Playground
ArtCloth Triptych

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Introduction
Newcastle Printmakers Workshop Inc. - a printmaker collective (see below) - held a group exhibition of its members at the Newcastle Region Art Gallery (Newcastle, NSW, Australia. The exhibition was opened by Roger Butler, Senior Curator, Australian Prints, Drawings and Illustrated Books at the National Gallery of Australia (Canberra). The exhibition is no longer on display.

Unfortunately I was overseas during the exhibition and so this post sadly will only concern itself with my contribution to the group exhibition, namely an ArtCloth triptych entitled: “Playground”.


A Vignette of the History of the Newcastle Region Art Gallery
Newcastle is the third oldest and sixth largest city in Australia. It is ca. 158.8 kilometers north of Sydney. It was first established as a penal settlement, and when coal was discovered, it quickly developed in order to supply other Australian settlements with fuel. It is still one of the largest coal exporting ports in the world – exporting in the vicinity of ca. AUD$18 billion dollars per year.
The indigenous inhabitants of the region - the Awabakal and Worimi people - lands spread north of the Hunter River and south to encompass Lake Macquarie. Awabakal and Worimi people are united by a common language, strong ties of kinship and survived as skilled hunter–fisher–gatherers in family groups or clans scattered along the mid-North coastal region.

Awabakal Elders’ Aboriginal Art.

In 1945 Dr Roland Pope, an ophthalmic surgeon from Sydney made the promise of the bequest of his art collection of some 137 Australian paintings to Newcastle, conditional upon the construction of a gallery to house them. Pope’s collection was held in storage for 12 years awaiting a gallery.

In 1957 Newcastle City Art Gallery, as it was then known, opened on the second floor of the War Memorial Cultural Centre adjacent to the gallery’s current home. Newcastle Region Art Gallery, Australia’s first purpose built regional gallery was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Friday 11th March 1977. The building is also an important example of early 1970s architecture with its geometric forms and brutal aesthetic.

Newcastle Region Art Gallery.

Today the Gallery has in its collection over 5000 works of art and can display only a small percentage of its renowned collection. The earliest works in the Gallery’s collection are by convict artists. Joseph Lycett’s paintings of early Newcastle, or Coal River as it was known in the early nineteenth century, gave central prominence to Nobbys headland, the quintessential feature of Newcastle harbor. Lycett’s early views of Newcastle also document the Indigenous inhabitants of the region, namely the Awabakal and Worimi people.

Nobby's Headland and Lighthouse, Newcastle (NSW, Australia).

The city has also produced its share of artists. William Dobell, John Olsen, William Rose, Tom Gleghorn, Ross Morrow, John Molvig were all born and bred in the city, while artists including John Passmore, Royston Harpur, Stanislaus Rapotec, Matthew Perceval, Shay Docking and Margaret Olley have been drawn to the city, to its architecture and industrial vistas.

Margaret Olley: "After the rain looking towards Stockton" 1970. Oil on canvas. Stockton is a suburb of Newcastle.


A Brief History of The Newcastle Printmakers Workshop Inc.
The Newcastle Printmakers Workshop Inc. in Australia began in 1983 with a grant from the Office of the Minister for Arts, The Community Arts and Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council and the Newcastle Trades Hall Council. It is still a very active group in the new millennium. It largely arose from the community art and the working life movements of the 1970s. The eclectic coalition of the initial funding agencies clearly emphasizes a broad-based and agenda-less community cooperative. It is a cooperative in the sense that it is largely designed to share equipment, exchange ideas, develop and encourage some common experiences. For example, they regularly exhibit as a group, encourage ad hoc partnerships between painters and printmakers or sculptors and printmakers etc. It is what they do not do or share that clearly delineates it from other collectives such as the Earthworks Poster collective.

The Newcastle Printmakers Workshop Inc. is a community based group of printmakers who work in a variety of printmaking media (e.g. solar print, intaglio, relief, lithography and screen printing). It is the longest running workshop in Australia.

The social engagement of the Newcastle Printmakers Workshop is restricted to the printmakers themselves. They have no agendas in raising the consciousness of community groups on any other issues except on the artistic and technical aspects of printmaking. They are not attempting to define or develop a common voice in their collective art.


PLAYGROUND by Marie-Therese Wisniowski
This triptych is an investigation of Newcastle’s role as Sydney’s "Playground". Due to its ever-expanding population and the introduction of fast transport systems, Sydney-siders will look to Newcastle to cater for their leisure time activities. The third oldest Australian city will, within this century, metamorphose into an exciting playground.

The work is a series of monoprints, silkscreened, stenciled, stitched, digital and transfer processes on cotton. It size is 2 meters high x 1 meter wide.

“Playground” - Full View.

Newcastle's natural environment is highly valued by its community as it boasts estuaries, ocean beaches, local waterways, wetlands and magnificent bush lands. Nearby is Lake Macquarie, a salt-water lake – the largest salt lake in the country. It is three and a half times larger than Sydney Harbor. A modern city on the sea, Newcastle embraces its maritime, industrial and cultural heritage and has a rich indigenous history. The earliest Aboriginal reference to the naming of Newcastle is Muloobinba (meaning Mu-lu-bin - edible sea fern, ba - place of). Below is a snapshot of some of the panels in the piece, which articulate the somewhat deconstructed imagery.

This panel highlights water sports such as sailing, wind surfing, water skiing and other boating activities that occur on the Newcastle/Lake Macquarie coast year round.

This panel depicts the popular surfing culture as Newcastle has an abundance of beaches and surf breaks. Newcastle hosts the annual international surfing contest “Surfest” on the world professional surfing tour.

The Hunter Valley was the first area in Australia where grapes were planted for wine production.
This panel depicts the soils and trellis structures needed to produce the famous wines from this very popular Australian wine district.

Newcastle has a thriving arts scene, which boasts a rich and varied cultural life with a wonderful selection of theatres, cinemas and concert venues which includes the popular Conservatorium of Music.

Creative and artistic pursuits abound throughout Newcastle and the region via an expansive array of contemporary and prestigious art galleries and public street art.

Newcastle has the distinction of being the site of the first coal mine in Australia and was significant in the development of the New South Wales mining industry. The Port of Newcastle is a major player in the NSW mining industry being part of the Hunter Valley Coal Chain, which is one of the world's largest coal export operation. The industry in turn supports the various "Playground" activities that Newcastle is blessed with!

1 comment:

Joseph Pitcher said...

Wonderfully vibrant work Marie. Shame you couldn't get to the exhibition to see the other contributions.
Joe from TextileArtist.org