Introducing 'Printmakers Combined': Coromandel's Newest Art Collective

  • 14 February 2018
  • Sarah Holden

Introducing 'Printmakers Combined': Coromandel's newest art collective consisting of ten local artists! Members include Paula McNeill, Liz Hart, Verena Tagmann, Tina Carey, Joanne Mahoney, Kay de Blaauw, Colleen Waite, Susan Dunster, Karla Cosford and Jane Parson – most of whom are also involved with The Little Gallery.

Formed in 2017, the initiative came about from a shared interest amongst the artists in expanding and evolving their practice. Most members were already well-known to each other through The Little Gallery, while a few were introduced through mutual contacts. Though all had extensive experience in painting and mixed media, they were keen to delve out of their comfort zones, learn new skills and branch out into other mediums. Printmaking presented the perfect pathway for the artists, allowing them to experiment, explore, and evolve their work! 

'Springtime' by Tina Carey

Together the group invested in a press which they named 'Patience' - a valuable shared resource which has fostered friendships and collaboration between the artists. The members regularly attend local workshops to develop their printmaking skills, as well as explore ways to incorporate these into their existing artistic interests. Not only do they share new techniques and knowledge with one another, the group has also facilitated exhibitions promoting the technical capacities of the print medium. While in the modern digital age the term 'print' is often misunderstood to invariably entail multiple reproductions, 'Printmakers Combined' show how the unique value of the single original print can be created and appreciated. 

Most recently in late January, the group participated in a multi-day Mixed Media Printmaking Workshop run by Dr. Carole Shepheard in Tairua. An experienced printmaker and educator, Dr. Shepheard has had an established reputation in the New Zealand arts landscape, with an extensive career spanning across education and curation, and is a member and facilitator of many artist networks, collective studios and organisations.

'Rice Bowls 4/10' and 'Rice Bowls 5/10' by Joanne Mahoney

This particular workshop focused on collagraphs: a collage printing technique that encompasses both relief printing methods, such as woodcut and linocut, as well as intaglio processes, including etching and drypoint printing. Most collagraphs employ an additive approach, where a variety of materials are fixed to a substrate, or working the surface such as modelling paste, glues. 

As the name suggests, collagraph printing is a process which operates on the basis of collage. The physical activity in creating a collagraph print is in the interaction of a selection of materials and techniques and textures. There are a few basic print rules, however much of the fun of working with this technique is the tremendous scope for innovation and experimentation. Whilst emphasis is often placed on more abstract elements as this favours texture, colour and bold shapes, it is possible to work figuratively and more subtly. Pleasing results will come from experimenting, taking risks and accepting the happy accidents that will occur along the way. In most cases, marks, textures and images are combined to create a singular original print. Even if the plate is reprinted, the collaged surface usually varies and so no two editions are the same! 

'Seascape II'
by Liz Hart

The experimental nature of collagraph printmaking has enabled the artists to step out of their usual limitations, to create some rich, innovative works. 

"Inspiring and stimulating," says Paula McNeill on Carole's workshop. "We were all totally committed and absorbed in learning the collagraph process, and are excited to present a must-see exhibition at the forthcoming Mercury Bay Art Escape, with further works on show at The Little Gallery," she says. 

Joanne Mahoney, who has been working with print for some time now, says of the workshop, "It was fantastic - we always learn a lot in a short space of time with these workshops."

‘Printmakers Combined’ attests to the strength of the creative community in the Coromandel – both for its artist and friendship networks, and its drive to constantly learn and grow as artists. The collective are participating in the upcoming Mercury Bay Art Escape in March, opening up their Tairua studio to the public. See the works of 'Printmakers Combined' year-round at The Little Gallery Tairua and Whangamata. Members Paula McNeill and Verena Tagmann are also two of our artists featuring in our 'Artists in Residence' event running concurrently to the Mercury Bay Art Escape - a great opportunity to meet the artists and learn about their practice from a first-hand perspective! 


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