Place Made: Australian Print Workshop
National Gallery of Australia, $69pb, 200pp
In the long tradition of printmaking, print workshops have played a critical and often unacknowledged role in encouraging, supporting and teaching artists to become printmakers, providing facilities and technical expertise, and, above all, producing prints. It is well known that Picasso’s unconventional experimentation with print techniques was often directly inspired by his printers’ abilities, while the rise of interest in lithography in America in the mid-twentieth century was due to lithographic workshops established by printers such as Tatyana Grosman and June Wayne. Nevertheless, the printer’s part in the creation of a print is still often overlooked.
Since its formation in 1981, the Australian Print Workshop (originally named the Victorian Print Workshop) has played an increasingly important role in Australian printmaking. First housed at the now defunct Meat Market Craft Centre, since 1985 the APW has resided in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. From humble beginnings, the services it now offers are manifold: access facilities for printmakers; custom printing (that is, collaborations between printmakers and skilled printers, who provide technical knowledge and assistance), and a gallery and retail outlet for prints published at the Workshop. It has commissioned folios and artworks, offers classes, and tours exhibitions that promote Australian printmaking nationally and internationally. Numerous young printmaking graduates have consolidated their print training through scholarships or employment as assistant printers, and many artists have made their first prints there. Mike Parr, for example, created his first print in 1987 at the APW; this print ‘spawned the avalanche’, as his collaborator-printer and the APW’s first director, John Loane, can testify. The APW’s ink-stained fingers now reach across the country. Since 1994 the APW has run numerous workshops in remote communities from Kalumburu to the Tiwi Islands, which have resulted in an extraordinary output of lithographs, etchings and linocuts – some of the most exciting prints currently being made in Australia. Many of the indigenous artists involved are unlikely to have made prints without this initiative.