Following her exhibition, Standing People, featuring etchings of trees, printmaker Sharon Whittaker expands on the theme in her second solo exhibition Beyond The Trees.
She says the exhibition “is a collection of drypoints and aluminium etchings … inviting the viewer into the treescapes … (with) spaces within the encompassing branches giving glimpses of subsequent landscapes. The symbolic use of pathways and local mountains represent family: past, present and future.”
Sharon says she initially intended to use a bright colour palette, however, she ended up using “soft blacks, burnt umber, and winter blues.”
The technique she uses involves etching on an aluminium plate. “I enjoy using a non-toxic method.” Traditional etching involves the use of sulphuric acid, with problems of disposal. The method uses Copper Sulphate “which is the same stuff you use on fruit trees … I learned the technique a few months ago, at a workshop in Melbourne, from Kathy Boyle, a New Zealand Printmaker.”
Only a few prints are taken from each plate and each is unique, “because I leave varying amounts of ink on the plate, giving different tonal effects.”
The exhibition opens on 25 August at 3pm in the Susan Badcock Gallery at the Old Post Office building on Talbot Street. It is Sharon’s second solo exhibition.
Written by Hugh McCafferty for the Geraldine News
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
The Geraldine Arts & Plants Festival ran from the 16th -19th November this year and I entered a couple of my works into the exhibition. It was the 29th consecutive year of this festival and it was great to be part of this local community event.