Printmaking group shares craft in two shows

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Painters’ Guild printmaking group are demonstrating the vast potential for different tools, technique and creativity within the medium at two different shows this month.

Impressions 6, the sixth annual show of new work by the group, was scheduled at the Salt Spring Public Library for April and was held over for an additional month. A retrospective show featuring 16 printmakers is also running at the Salt Spring Gallery to Wednesday, May 12.

Some of the seemingly endless ways to press an image onto paper are helpfully laid out in the library’s lobby display case, where group members exhibit prints alongside the materials used to make them. These range from soapstone to rubber to natural wood. Imagery can be carved in reverse form using sharp tools or burned into the surface with acid or fire.

The exhibition in the program room may not be huge, but even still gives a good taste of the possibilities, including a cute sample piece that includes mini prints by eight participating members.

Prints can be simple or infinitely complex, depending on how much carving and layering the artist wishes to do. Several of the works on exhibit for this show prove that sometimes a single colour can have the most visual impact. Jeanne Lyon’s work Not Forgotten, for example, references the Red Dress Project honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls using a deep red ink as the only pigment. Lyon’s composition with a winding highway twisting through the space divided by landscape on one side and empty dresses on the other is powerful. She skillfully chooses how to balance negative space, as well as areas with more definition and those in solid colour or bare paper.

Leslie Corry is another artist who makes good use of the visual impact of deep red ink on white paper. Her unnamed imprint of a flower over an inverted teardrop-shaped vase makes great use of the framing, while tacky ink has produced areas of texture and softness. The imagery also has the gift of duality. With its shape and colouring, there is a hint of the sacred heart motif.

Pami Sira makes a striking contrast with a cerise ink over a mottled watercolour background in Koi Fish. He uses the yin-yang type positioning of the two fish as the central hub for a circular swirl of ripples for a winning combination of elements. Another untitled block print by Sira creates an abstract, almost floral patten in multihued ink to produce a nuanced contrast to an expanse of rich cream background.

Working with a more complex layering of elements to delightful effect is Suzanne Prendergast. Her piece From the Garden somehow recalls Japanese paper artforms and kimono silk through the careful stacking of contrasting colours, patterns and different sized rectangular blocks.

A cyan blue with finely etched lines resembling wood grain is the base layer, with perfectly contrasting soda pop orange over top. This layer has a more limited pattern of tiny horizontal waves. Then comes a thin layer of rice paper embedded with dried stems and leaves that Prendergast has printed on in black, and a final layer of a printed chickadee to crown it all. It’s a wonderful example of how far one can go with the medium even without employing a complicated carving reduction scheme.

The printmaking group has been active for eight years and it welcomes new members. See www.ssipaintersguild.ca under Programs/Printmakers or contact Johanna at johoskins@telus.net.

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