Flyway Print Exchange: Birds Without Borders Award 2016

On 24th March, at the Charles Darwin University, CDU, Art Forum, Kate Gorringe-Smith, printmaker and Amanda Lilleyman, PhD Student both spoke about their work involving migratory shorebirds.

Amanda Lilleyman is studying migratory shorebird ecology in Darwin Harbour. She talked about monitoring the numbers of shorebird, and mentioned different locations around Darwin Harbour where they assemble, roost, and feed.

Kate Gorringe-Smith told us about The Flyway Print Exchange, a project in which artists along the shorebirds international flight path, make prints about the birds, and then share their work with the other artist participating and hold exhibitions.

Shorebirds at Buffalo Creek

During both our screen-printing and printmaking classes our tutor, Mats Undén invited us to participate in the collaboration between Kate Gorringe-Smith and CDU in creating out own printed works about the shorebirds, and exhibiting them at the end of semester.

The subject of the shorebirds focused me on the process of learning two new printing methods, and also gave me the incentive to explore more of Darwin’s coast, while I took reference photos of the birds.

Amanda Lilleyman mentioned Buffalo Creek, which is only a few minutes away from my home, as a place where shorebirds might be spotted. It was my first visit to the spot, and I went early in the morning before classes.

The photos I took of the birds were from some distance away, and so I used them, memory and imagination to create sketches to base the etch on.

After deciding on a design, I began to learn how to etch, starting with marking the design onto the plate which is coated in liquid hard ground. The lines are etched into the plate with nitric acid, the longer the acid is on the plate the stronger the marks are when printed.

One of the parameters set by The Flyway Print Exchange was that the paper was to be 26cms by 26cms 300gsm Hahnemuhle Printmaking Paper. I printed my line etching on the paper, with oil based printing ink.

In the second part of learning etching we learnt how to Aquatint. Aquatinting is used to print shapes, rather than lines. The plate is covered in tiny acid resistant dots (we used spray paint) and any areas that are to be left un printed are covered in liquid hard ground.

Again I printed on Hahnemuhle Printmaking Paper (pictured below a scrape piece was used), with black oil based printing ink. I decided then that I wanted to try different colours and transparencies.

Part of our task for the course was to use two plates, so as to understand how multicolour prints are achieved, and to be able to use registration to print two plates in the same position on the paper.

I spent hours, and days, exploring different colours, and transparencies. I begin understand the endless challenge printing offers. Trying to end up with a clean print was a challenge for me to begin with, but with other students around, with different levels of experience, tips, tricks and advice was available.

I submitted the print closest to perfect, but I can still see where I have a ways to go in getting all the steps correct in producing a ‘perfect’ print. I used ultramarine blue mixed with a touch of red on the first plate, and ultramarine blue on the second plate. I titled the print ‘early morning, Buffalo Creek’.

The Flyway Print Exchange: Birds Without Borders Award 2016 Exhibition was opened Jun 10, Nan Giese Gallery, CDU. CDU Students VET and HE Visual Arts student from both Casuarina and Alice Springs campuses submited works. There were 15 prints, printed in a wide range of methods.

Curator Joanna Barrkman opened the exhibition, and announced the students who would go on to further inclusion in CDU Gallery’s show Our Feathered Friends on October 19, 2016, and the official Flyway Print Exchange Project. Six student were chosen, three from Casuarina, and three from Alice. I was one of the three from Casuarina.

The Sunday Territorian Newspaper published an article about the Project and exhibition, on 12th June 2016, pg26, written by Tamara Howie. I am in the photo, and am mentioned in the article.

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