Print power

Dan McCabe’s Shadows on the hill

A FULL-size fabric car at this year’s Fremantle Print Awards is a poignant reminder of the “tent city” feud just a few months ago.

Created by Kununurra-based artist Dan McCabe, the Mitsubishi is rendered in sublimation print on fabric and doubles as a tent, conveying his concerns about homelessness and housing affordability, which have been exacerbated by covid.

A visually arresting work that looks like a kitsch prank, Shadows on the hill has hidden depths and dark undertones.

It is one of 51 diverse works at the 45th FAC Print Award, which showcases traditional printmaking, artist books and unconventional multi-media works, many of which reference the pandemic and its grisly fallout.

WA artist Tim Meakin’s gloriously tongue-in-cheek Low Energy looks like a giant kid’s toy, but is actually a plastic representation of himself lifting weights – a cheeky poke at male machismo and body image.

“I wanted to create a figure in my own style that shared commonality with a large muscular human,” Meakin says.

“It’s about the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves mentally and physically. 

“And yes, a playful poke at male machismo, inspired by both self reflection and human observations.”Painstakingly created using computer design software, a 3D printer, body filler and expanding foam, Low Energy is an example of the hi-tec and elaborate methods used by artists to push the boundaries of the medium.

“The work gets sanded down to a smooth finish, then a layer of body filler is applied to make the outer shell sturdy,” he says.

Tim Meakin’s Low Energy is one of the works on show at the FAC Print Awards.

The work is then assembled piece by piece, filled with expanding foam to make it solid and then painted with 2 Pack Paint. Stick the face on and it’s done. A huge process for a big silly thing, but it’s fun!”

Far removed from 3D printers and shiny plastic is 1:1 Expeditor Tail a seven-metre long graphite imprint of the wing of a 1950s Expeditor plane.

To create the work, WA artist Susanna Castleden rummaged through plane ‘graveyards’ in the deserts of Utah, finding inspiration in wrecks that were once kings of the sky.

It took her two days in the sweltering Utah heat to do the frottage (rubbing) of the wing, creating a huge spectral image.

“I’ve made works in an aircraft boneyard in the past as I was interested in working with aircraft that had been rendered still,” Castleden says.

“I use the process of frottage to capture the form of the aircraft, kind of like a 1:1 scale map. 

“The work in the Print Award is the tail of an Expeditor, a plane that was used for aerial mapping in the 1950’s, and is now housed in the Hill Aerospace Museum in Utah.” 

Completed just before the global pandemic brought the airline industry to a shuddering halt, the ghostly image of a plane’s wing is haunting and prophetic. 

The 45th Print Award is at the Fremantle Arts Centre from May 29 – July 18 with the winner taking home a whopping $16,000 cash prize on opening night Friday May 28.

Australia’s longest-running and most prestigious printmaking award, it’s set to become a biannual event from 2022 to “to enable greater flexibility within the curatorial program”.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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