Hot off the press

RAGING wildfires and record high temperatures in Europe were the catalyst for Jo Darvall’s take on climate change in this year’s Fremantle Arts Centre Print Award.

The well-respected Freo artist was ruminating over the extreme weather sweeping the world when the idea for her Hydrosphere print popped into her head.

“I’m interested in the sky and the sea and how it is instrumental in creating rain,” Darvall says.

“I had been thinking about the changing weather due to climate change; torrential rain or burning hot summers people in Europe now experience. 

“These artworks arrive from thoughts about our current environment and hard conversations we need to have followed by action.”

• Shallow and Deep by Kendal Heyes

Created in her Swan River Print Studio at Goolugatup Heathcote in Applecross, the artwork is not a depressing take on climate change, but an olive branch for humankind to change its ways.

Hydrosphere depicts the sea and the sky with fragile bird life and motifs from the lotus flower that rises out of the murky water to bloom every day, a symbol of hope for change and creating opportunities for people to discuss difficult issues in a comfortable way,” Darvall says.

Best known for her wispy landscape paintings, Darvall is just back from an international art residency in Fiji, where she created an artwork of a rock, “which turned out to be a culturally significant rock, so I donated it to the chief.”

• Hydrosphere by Jo Darvall

She says printmaking informs her painting: “as fellow artist Katie Glaskin put it, the process of printmaking stimulates creative agility. I enjoy finding things around me and repurposing them to create new marks. The marks in my work for the Print Award have marks from cardboard of disused cereal packets and discarded plastic.”

Hydrosphere is just one of 50 fantastic works by established and emerging Australia artists in this year’s Fremantle Arts Centre Print Award.

Now in its 46th year, it’s one of the nation’s longest running and prestigious print prizes with the winner taking home a whopping $16,000.

Following a two year hiatus, the Award is back with a vengeance, showcasing a wide range of traditional and innovative print making techniques with everything from digital and 3D printing to textile, laser etch and screen printing. The largest piece is 11m long and the smallest just a few millimetres.

• Time Machine by Rob Kettels.

More than 60 per cent of the works are from interstate, but local finalists include Jay Staples and Stephen Brameld, who recently held their Mod Dogs exhibition at PS Art Space in Fremantle.

Sometimes the best art is born out of serendipity, as was the case with their entry Forest.

After they covered unsealed merbau decking with a drop cloth canvas, it began to rain.

Natural tannins from the composite bled into the fabric, transferring marks from the timber onto a new matrix – a process known as ‘leaching’ or ‘tannin bleed’.

“All of the processing was incidental,” they said. “We have arranged these drop cloths to form an image depicting a forest. We are presenting this image, not as a creation of our own, but rather a creation of incident.”

You can check out all the finalists in the Print Award at the Fremantle Arts Centre until October 22 (at the time of going to print, the winner of this year’s Award was still under wraps). 



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