Quite a bit, it turns out.
After a year’s hiatus, Ian Kennedy is back in the show with a series of prints that riff on the theme of water and showcase a new technique for him. He explains: “The monoprints came about because I was looking for a technique that allowed me a greater degree of spontaneity and freedom in the creation of the plates, and to achieve a multicolour print with only one pass through the press … I painted with watercolours onto 8”X10” plexiglass plates and let them dry, then ran them through the press allowing the moistened paper to reactivate the watercolour medium.” The result maintains the feel of a watercolour. In Black Sea Rising, Ian has touched on two contemporary issues--the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests—albeit with an unexpected twist, as a masked woman of colour wearing an evening gown with a cinched waist raises her arm while coming out of a black roiling sea. Dare I suggest he has reconfigured Botticelli’s Venus?
This group show is a first for Izabella Cresswell-Jones. A relatively recent transplant from Toronto, and now retired, Izabella is a new member of the printmakers’ Friday Open Studio, where she has embraced relief printing, which she first discovered during an Art Safari class at the KSOA. Izabella was attracted by the straightforwardness of lino cutting, but admits that “you’ve had it if you make a mistake.” The physicality of carving is also appealing, she says. As is the diversity of lines she can create with her cutting tool. Leaves, a small work in an earthy light brown, resembles a jigsaw of organic lines, while Cardinal focuses on the red bird’s mass, embellished by a black mask and bib and juxtaposed against a network of gouges that suggest foliage and tree limbs.
This year Barb Carr has included new work in the form of linocut prints using the reduction method, colloquially called “suicide printmaking.” With this technique she gradually removes parts of her images as more colours are added. Traditional linocuts make use of separate plates for each colour. Dockside, after a sketch Barb made while visiting the harbour in Gloucester, Mass., involves three colour passes to which she has added small hand-painted areas. Barb also makes monotypes, which are produced more intuitively, but the first mark determines the rest, she tells me. And so Barb sees reduction printmaking and making monotypes as two different ways of solving an aesthetic puzzle.
Also working with a new technique is Wendy Cain, a veteran of the printmakers’ exhibition. Her recent Smoky Still Life Series relies on the chance outcome of relief printing on freshly made handmade paper, on a vacuum table, which draws water from the paper in linear directions while the work is being pressed. Rather than carving blocks to achieve her relief images, Wendy uses shapes cut from Japanese papers that are inked with soy-based environmentally friendly inks. In the resulting black and white prints, the hard-edged shapes have been transformed into hazy graphic objects characterized by unique textures and surrounded by interesting negative space. “Allowing for ‘chance’, I feel I am in partnership with this studio practice,” writes Wendy in her artist’s statement.
Rebecca Cowan is not new to the printmakers’ annual exhibition, but this year she has combined three printmaking techniques—drypoint, stencil and chine collé—to create a series of ingenious “books” containing four interiors on a street called Balsam Crescent. Each, when folded, forms a small house. The house works, Rebecca explains, because she has used double accordion folds, a technique she devised after she took part in the World Washi Summit in Toronto in 2008. The summit celebrated the vast array of handmade Japanese papers available to artists, and Rebecca had been called upon to contribute an artwork using one of them. She still works with Japanese paper, and in this intriguing series of interiors explores family dynamics in 1950s suburban bungalows.
Kingston Printmakers are Margaret Bignell, Wendy Cain, Barb Carr, Izabella Cresswell-Jones, Rebecca Cowan, Kym Fenlon-Spazuk, Ian Kennedy, Jane Hamilton-Khaan and Hannah Roth.
Kingston Printmakers continues until Sunday, November 29, with health protocols in place for in-gallery visits.
Ulrike Bender is a former graphic designer, art director and ESL teacher who, in retirement, has ventured into photography. She is currently a volunteer gallery assistant at the WAG and a docent at Agnes.