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:


A Patricia Sykes Poem “On your suicide coast”, 2013 : Allegory and Art

On my Home Page I have removed the previous images ( etchings; intaglio, chine-colle and collage) about the forces of nature from the series titled:

Return to Sand and Water

and added more images from that series which are about the artist and a process of insight. The artist like a diver plunges into the ocean of the mind and brings up ‘pieces of insight’ not the spark of an idea but the process of creativity that brings that idea to fruition. Also included is a poem titled On your suicide coast, by Patricia Sykes, 2013

Behind the process of insight theme depicted in these etchings was a tragic story.

Usually at Point Roadknight my impetus derives from the forces of nature or the sheer beauty of sunrise and back-lit cloud formations however this time was different. It was an unexpected tragic situation that I thought I’d forgotten about but which just popped up unexpectedly. On the ocean side of Point Roadknight rocky ledges reach like outstretched hands into the ocean and it was at this location that a friend called me on her mobile to hurry and meet her. What started as an early morning walk for her ended in both of us identifying a washed up body lying face down on the sand.

The very sad thing for me was that he could not be stopped from this ‘final dive’ by the beauty of this place.

We both  found an outlet in poetry and art for the topic of suicide but not as a collaboration. I had not set out to do a series of etchings informed by the poem.

Earlier I had some old prints that I tore up and collaged into new compositions. The torn image was one of the Hanged Man and was about an art student’s Performance as this persona; painted in white chalk, hanging from rafters with musician also performing on the side of the hanging figure. I turned the image around so that it could be read as a diving figure, omitted the musicians and integrated the male figure into the land/seascape and then it unexpectedly reminded me of the suicide.

The figure reaching into the watery underworld has been used in art and literature frequently as an allegory about art and poetry for example the image of Narcissus by Caravaggio, 1600 becomes an allegory of painting.

NARCIS

We had been working separately at different times with this material and I had put mine away for several years until recently when I noticed that they seemed in sympathy with each other – simpatico.

This poem by Patricia Sykes is titled:

On your suicide coast

a holiday of bodies in languid sprawl

as if death is never a stalker

a strange aliveness

       their lassitude

      disturbed by no breath of yours

       though they loll among the gone of it

some scan the horizon, the sky,

less from anxiety than the habit

of eyes as wings, the shadows

      fleeting their faces are mostly sea birds

      a streak of sooty crests

      through bright indifferent sunlight

did you admire the tenacity of terns,

how they hug the shore like guards?

my eyes your surrogates fly

      to 96° west, the SOS marker

      that hovered above your suicide like a metal angel

      it hovers still, its yellow vigilance

defies rust, its loyalty to the drowned

and the bereft told in griefs of flowers

though you were a stranger here

      though the last spume to touch you

      slid off the marker’s face

      like incidental sea spray

the wheeling terns are not crying

an absolute goodbye

death is constant burial

      I give you back to water

      the way a parent trusts an infant to a cradle

      this time the surge and thrash

is gentler; strange fish nibble my fingers,

as if you left a hunger here, the ocean

though speaks of nothing but cold

 

Patricia Sykes, 2013

 

Poetics in Imagery

One way I depict the content of a story in my imagery is through a time honoured method that can be termed poetics, metaphor or allegory; that is using one story to tell another in the case of allegory.

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Revisit sketchbook from Kakadu and Nitmiluk continued

From sketchbook to work on paper

My sketchbook images were reference for larger images mainly because I usually capture energy and movement in the initial mark making. Several images done on folded Fabriano print making paper meant that being absorbent the fibers would retain my application of pastel staining. Large pastel stick grated with my Stanley box cutter knife stained and bled into damp paper but also mixed in water like a slurry. Because the paper was tough and absorbent I made lines into which colour accumulated by gouging into the paper with the blunt side of my knife. For example:

Flood plain at Anbangbang Billabong

Sketch in ink pen from Anbangbang Billabong

Sketch in ink pen from Anbangbang Billabong

Two parts of this landscape captured my attention. Firstly the hole in one end of the background rock formation that reminded me of an eye. It felt as though we were being watched from afar. The other part was the dry billabong where triangle-shaped debris made of dry vegetation caught on sticks and branches. Swept into these shapes by a raging torrent in the previous wet season, they scattered across the flood plain . The other element captured was heat haze on the plain with blue sky. The pastel image with jagged lines resembling teeth may have been influenced sub-consciously by warnings to watch out for crocodiles.