An exhibition of limited edition prints by two of Australia’s most prominent printmakers, Jennifer Marshall and the late Bea Maddock (1934-2016) is currently being shown at the Australian Print Workshop in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy (until 20th August). The APW presents the annual George Collie Memorial Award in recognition of artists who have made an outstanding contribution to contemporary Australian printmaking. It has previously been awarded to Noel Counihan and Rick Amor in 2014 and Grahame King and Jan Senbergs in 2015, and this year the prestigious honour is awarded to two women.
Bea Maddock studied at the Hobart Technical College and completed post-graduate painting and printmaking at the Slade School of Art under William Coldstream, Ceri Richards and Anthony Cross. She was later appointed lecturer in printmaking at the National Gallery School and the Victorian College of the Arts from 1970 to 1981. Maddock is represented in this exhibition by four works from the APW archive, three hand-drawn self-portrait lithographs, each in a different primary colour, and redolent of her interest in German Expressionism; a fourth black and white photo-etching completes the set. The emphasis is on the artist as observer, with her gaze and enigmatic smile engaging the viewer in a visual dialogue that alternates between the emotive colour prints and the intensity of the photographic etching.
Jennifer Marshall, who recently completed a month’s residency at the APW workshop, has eight works, the earliest dating from 1974 when she was awarded her first residency at the Power Institute’s Cité des Arts in Paris. This etching indicates the richness of line, contrasts and mark making, a quality consistent throughout Marshall’s work and which connects with her recent etchings. Marshall studied under two important emigrant artists, Karen Schapers and Udo Sellbach at the South Australian School of Art in Adelaide, completing her studies at Sydney University in the 1970s. Regular European study tours, artist residencies and major grants, including a Visual Arts Board grant and British Council grant have provided consistent contact with important international collections. Her new etchings, made at the APW during her 2016 residency, recall a classicism derived from close study of 17th century and 19th century masterpieces, in this case from the National Gallery of Victoria. The effects of light and her continuing interest in the tempestuous nature of the sea are superbly expressed as homage to the artists Monet, Claude and Courbet. ‘Rough Weather’ after Monet’s painting ‘Rough Weather at Etretat’, 1883, and ‘Wave’ an interpretation of Gustave Courbet’s famous painting of 1872 and of the same title, while ‘Shipwreck’, based on one of Claude’s etchings of 1641 prove there is much to be gained from direct re-visioning the art of the past. Marshall has long been regarded as one of Australia’s most accomplished printmakers and this small, elegant exhibition pays tribute to her consummate skill and enduring reputation.
© Dr Sheridan Palmer, August 2016.