Sharon Whittaker’s career in art has moved from a new-graduate focus on photography through other disciplines to her present interest in monotype printmaking’s possibilities. The Geraldine artist has been exhibiting at Susan Badcock Studio since its opening in 2014 and will launch a larger body of work, Riverbed Series, at the studio.
The series gets up close to Sharon’s local river, the Te Moana, allowing the waterway’s complexity to have prominence and challenging the Romantic concept of the picturesque, which one initiator, William Gilpin, defined as “that kind of beauty which is agreeable in a picture”.
Riverbed Series defies that ideal’s superficiality, inviting viewers to see the real stature of “diversity in the landscape and its ability to cope with extreme conditions”, says Sharon.
The monotypes begin at the river with pencil and paper. “Each work is a one-off. I take them straight from sketches and the feelings I get from the place.”
“I paint onto the glass, put print-making, cotton-based paper on the glass and then press it. I do it by hand – I like the action of hand-rolling – then take the paper off and allow it to dry. Sometimes I add drawing – pencil – after that.
“It’s one of the original print-making methods. You don’t need a lot of equipment.”
The simplicity of the process appeals to Sharon, as does what she calls “painterly looseness”; the textural nuancing that goes with the additive process. And, “the element of surprise” that’s a sine qua non of print-making. “You don’t really know what it’s going to look like.”
A long-time understanding of special places is central to Sharon’s approach to landscape. She’s presently working on a series based on her childhood’s backdrop, “Banks Peninsula and its mood, the colour, the light.” Like the Te Moana River, for her, its beauty and strength are in its intricacy.
Some of work from Riverbed Series is at Susan Badcock Studio now, and new work will be available around Arts & Plants weekend. Other exhibitors are owner and director Susan Badcock, and John Badcock; all three will be in the studio on Friday 13th November from 2-4pm. “Come for a drink and a chat about our new work,” says Susan.
Susan Badcock Studio is at the back of Gerldine’s old post office at 47 Talbot Street. Hours are 10am-2pm Tuesday to Saturday. For more information, phone 021 175 2853 or check the studio’s Facebook page.
Written by Jan Finlayson