Elaine d'Esterre

Feminist Visual Artist – Paintings, Mixed Media and Etchings


An introduction to Nicola Perkin and her Australian Imagery

I would like to introduce Nicola Perkin and one of her recent collagraph experiments.

Nicky and I share a love of painting and printmaking. We are members of a printmaking group in Anglesea on the Surf Coast in Victoria, Australia.

The main theme in Nicky’s artwork, paintings and prints is her response to the Australian landscape. In her words:

” I was born and bred in London  where I only saw the horizon once a year on our annual family holiday; at times I am overwhelmed by the vastness and emptiness of Australia. In an attempt to find my sense of place, I explore my response to this alien landscape.”

Nicky’s printmaking and painting both have limited palettes allowing a heavily textured surface. Within her collagraphs the surface textures and limited palette echo those of the landscape; ” others are built up layers of colour capturing the changing light”.

“There is a deliberate silence to my paintings, by presenting the viewer with a space, the work attempts to engage the viewer. It is in our nature to fill that void, bringing our own interpretation to the viewing, remembering a similar journey or view “.

The mark making visible on the collagraph plate and second image that shows the detail in the plate’s surface demonstrate how important the texture through mark making can characterise and trace Nicky’s relationship to a particular place. Elements and aspects of abstraction make me feel that her imagery is very Australian in a sophisticated and understated way. The texture, flattening of surface and random marks draw in my eye and at the same time disperse that focus into the linear texture that amplifies the sense of stillness and space.

I enjoy how the texture becomes form and atmosphere, and the work while figurative is also abstracted.

Nicky's collagraph

Collagraph techniques are many and varied and generally have a painterly quality in contrast to traditional graphic line drawn etching.

The two vertical chine colle areas began as pieces of masking that were placed on the inked plate, then run through the press, peeled back and turned around and placed onto the print as another element within the  composition.

Nicky presents a sense of void where the viewer can bring to this element their relationship, interpretation and emotions about a particular aspect of this environment. I relate to the sunburnt terrain, aridity and drought resistant vegetation. I almost hear the sound of crackling dry leaves underfoot.

Other collagraphs:

Seascape final stage of oil paint companion to Point Roadknight commission


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Seascape, stages in a painting’s development

The slide show reveals how this painting came together in many stages. It was a companion to a commission so it is at present untitled, however the subject matter is the erosion of an interesting land form on the Great Ocean Road called Point Roadknight. Although the coastline is a fragile one and weathering is part of the natural cycle I always feel upset when I notice yet another rocky feature lost to the ocean. In the painting I depict breaches in the rock where tide floods across the rock platform. I exaggerated tidal flow as I imagined a future breach at an already eroded section of the point where the next cascade of ocean on the south side will eventually pour over the rock into the bay.

The early stage consisted of  under-painting with ink and gesso in which frottage taken from the rock surface was glued into position.

Elements of composition, colour and tone came next in a loose configuration unified by strong lines drawn with an oil paint stick.

Once the shapes were blocked in, tone and colour in desired range of intensity established I stared pouring paint in a way that alluded to flowing water.

The white foam and shadow created a contrast that appeared to overwhelm the composition and made it too fussy so I put in some greys and poured light over dark in a diagonal direction.

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