Home' Scoop Homes and Art : Insite 24 Autumn 2010 Contents 94 INSITE AUTUMN
LINO CUT LEGENDS
Colour, Rhythm, Design: wood
and lino cuts of the 20s and 30s,
March 13--May 30, Art Gallery
of New South Wales, Sydney NSW
Paintings on silk, watercolours and lino
cuts might now seem at odds with cutting-
edge contemporary art practice, but when
ea Proctor returned from London and the
St John's Wood Art School in 1912, her fan
paintings on silk and especially her lino cuts
were a rallying cry for many Australian artists.
After success in London, the lack of
financial support for her work in Australia
drove her back to England.
However, she returned in 1921 and held
several exhibitions of her lino cuts and
paintings, including one with Margaret
Preston in 1925 that was described at the
time as "dangerously modern".
What the lino-cut technique made
possible was a focus on flat colour, inventive
shape and design, and a dynamic rhythm,
often based on the arabesque.
Cutting into the flat surface of linoleum
was a very physical and immediate
experience that left a flat surface that could
be rolled up with ink, then either run
through a press or burnished with a spoon
on the kitchen table.
It was a printmaking technique perfectly
suited to the times and one that was easily
accessible to women artists, who made it
their speciality, particularly in Australia.
Colour, Rhythm, Design at the Art Gallery
of New South Wales draws upon the gallery's
rich collection of both wood and lino cuts
from the 20s and 30s by artists Margaret
Preston, ea Proctor, Adelaide Perry and
Also included are Ethel Spowers, Evelyne
Syme, Mabel Pye, Vera Blackburn, Gladys
Gibbons, Murray Griffin and Ethleen Palmer.
While most of the latter will be unfamiliar
to anyone outside the specialist circles of
print enthusiasts and collectors, the former
are major figures who introduced and
shaped Australian Modernism.
eir first-hand experience of
contemporary art in Europe, together with
the trickle of information arriving through
magazines, such as the English journal
Studio and articles on local artists published
by Sydney Ure Smith in his journal Art in
Australia, was the catalyst for a burgeoning
interest in wood-block and lino-cut printing
that led to the first Australian exhibition
devoted to woodcuts held in Sydney in 1923.
Proctor's e Rose, created in 1928, is
typical of the crisp, fluid design and strong
colour that made her covers for e Home
magazine and her 1932 design for the very
modern Lacquer Room restaurant for Farmer
& Co Ltd so fashionable and trend setting.
Similarly, Preston's wildflowers and
Adelaide Perry's e Bridge, showing the first
spans of the Sydney Harbour Bridge rising
up, were symbols of the new energy and
dynamism that was shaping Australia.
IMAGE Rick Amor: Ron Ramsey
Times Like These: the Self Portraits of Rick
Amor, February 27--May 2, Newcastle Region
Art Gallery, Newcastle NSW
Rick Amor has always used his
immediate environment as the source
material for his dark and brooding
paintings of everyday life in and around
Victoria's capital city.
Like so many artists before him
concerned with the human figure, the most
immediate subject was, of course, himself.
So, he has painted many self-portraits
during his 40-year career.
Beginning with his earliest teenage
work and up to paintings completed
recently, the current exhibition at the
Newcastle Regional Gallery "... showcases
the intensity and often brutal honesty
of Amor's journey through the best and
worst of times".
Any major exhibition of artist's
self-portraits immediately raises the
spectre of Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn,
the master of the self-portrait, who charted
the highs and lows in his life through the
incisive eye of the self-witness peering into
the mirror, dissecting his face and character
with a deft brush to reveal what lay at its
core. Amor bravely and successfully takes
up this challenge.
The Bridge, 1929, lino cut, black ink
on cream-laid paper, by Adelaide Perry.
Work by Rick Amor on show in his
exhibition Times Like These.
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