Ken ORCHARD, Three textures. Enlarge 1 /1


Keith, South Australia, Australia born 1959

Three textures. 1986
Collection Title: Three textures
Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: prints, ink; paper woodcut, printed in black ink, each from one block; hand-coloured Support: 3 sheets of thick wove stonehenge paper
Edition State: published state
Impression: 3/6
Edition: edition of 6

Dimensions: printed image (overall) 244.0 h x 366.0 w cm sheet 257.0 h x 123.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Gordon Darling Australasian Print Fund 1992
Accession No: NGA 92.106.A-C
  • Purchased by the Australian National Gallery, from the artist, Sydney, February 1992.

Three textures, a large hand-coloured woodblock, comprises three abutting panels. In the left-hand panel, a boy and his dog dive from the top left corner down towards the rippling surface of water. In the right-hand panel, a girl with her eyes closed leans forward, clutching a wrap that is draped over her shoulder. In the centre, a figure whose body has been cropped from the frame supports a steaming cup with his raised arm. The cup and the arm provide the focal point for the other two adjacent panels. Through juxtaposition, the content of the three sections becomes bonded into one whole, each element making pictorial and metaphorical references to one another.

In 1985, I produced a series of collaged engravings entitled Disorient world. Some of the original steel engravings, which formed the narrative material for these collages, illustrated a 1911 Chatterbox Annual, a compendium of children’s adventure stories. The female figure derived from an engraving of a small oil painting by William Mulready (1786–1863), now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Its title, Open your mouth and shut your eyes 1838, is the first half of the popular catch phrase ending ‘and see what tomorrow may bring’. I then created the woodcut Three textures, using fragments of images taken from these collages, experimenting with appropriation to create subconscious recognition, and allowing me formal control over types of image reproduction.

The title Three textures alludes to the techniques used by wood engravers in the 19th century to produce different tones. The images were further distorted through the process of photocopying, enlargement, and cutting the woodblocks.

Ken Orchard 2002

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002