Ben QUILTYMichael KEMPSONCICADA PRESS, Fang. Enlarge 1 /1


Kenthurst, New South Wales, Australia born 1973


Kapunda, South Australia, Australia born 1961

printer, intaglio


commenced 2003

print workshop (organisation)

Fang. 2005
Collection Title: Cicada Press One
Place made: College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Selwyn Street, Paddington, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: prints, ink; paper etching and aquatint, printed in brown ink, from one plate Support: Velin Arches 300 gsm paper
Manufacturer's Mark: no manufacturer's mark
Edition State: published state
Impression: right-to-print proof
Edition: edition of 35; plus 1 right-to-print proof, 3 artist's proofs, 3 printer's proofs

Primary Insc: signed lower right below plate-mark in black pencil, 'BQ'. not dated. Titled lower centre below plate-mark in black pencil, 'fang'. inscribed lower left below plate-mark in black pencil, 'B.A.T.'
Secondary Insc: Print workshop blindstamp lower right corner, stylised image of cicada
Dimensions: plate-mark 28.5 h x 29.5 w cm sheet 50.5 h x 40.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Gordon Darling Australia Pacific Print Fund, celebrating the National Gallery of Australia’s 25th anniversary, 2007
Accession No: NGA 2007.1549.401
Image rights: © Ben Quilty
  • Purchased by the National Gallery of Australia, from Cicada Press, Sydney, 2007

Don’t you just love a birthday? The Gordon Darling Australia Pacific Print Fund certainly does—celebrating the National Gallery of Australia’s twenty-fifth anniversary by acquiring the extraordinary archives of four major print workshops based around Australia—Larry Rawling Fine Art Prints, Cicada Press, Franck Gohier and Viridian Press.

It is fitting that Gordon Darling was involved with this hugely generous gesture as he has been a staunch supporter of the Australian Prints department since the Gallery opened in 1982. As the inaugural chairperson, he encouraged the development of the print collection, and in 1989 he established what is now the Gordon Darling Australia Pacific Print Fund, which assists with the purchase of prints produced after 1960. This recent acquisition of over two thousand works on paper from workshops based in Sydney, Darwin, Canberra and the outskirts of Melbourne reflects the broad nature of the Fund which, under the guidance of Roger Butler, Senior Curator of Australian Prints and Drawings, aims to collect a comprehensive overview of contemporary printmaking in Australia and the region.

The four print workshops are not only geographically scattered but each operates along a different model of the artist-printer association. In the case of Larry Rawling and his eponymous studio, the role of the printer is based on a traditional custom-printing approach. Coming from a commercial printing background, he is known for his beautifully produced screenprints in which the colours are crisp, clear and perfectly registered. Over the four decades that he has been printing limited edition prints, Rawling has demonstrated his versatility in the medium—producing screenprinted text for artist’s books, custom-mixing ink colours and trialling countless experimental techniques to help achieve the artist’s vision for the work. It is this remarkable resourcefulness that has made Larry Rawling a much sought-after printer, and he has worked with over eighty artists during his long career. Rawling began printing for Alun Leach-Jones in the 1960s and went on to produce prints with artists such as Bea Maddock, Charles Blackman, Robert Jacks and Jan Senbergs. Since moving his studio to the outskirts of Melbourne in 1998, Rawling has continued to produce innovative prints for a new generation of artists, including Brent Harris, David Band, Juan Davila and Brook Andrew.

John Loane initiates print-based collaborations with established artists at his Canberra-based studio Viridian Press. After working as the inaugural director of the Victorian Print Workshop, Loane established Viridian Press in Melbourne in 1988. Over the years, he has invited selected artists to work with him on developing editions of prints, producing etchings, lithographs and woodblock prints with artists such as Mike Parr, Aida Tomescu, Jeffrey Harris, Imants Tillers, Judith Wright and Savanhdary Vongpoothorn. Diverse in their style and conceptual approach, many had never worked with printmaking before and Loane’s approach often involves an exchange of ideas and technical expertise. Working together can be the catalyst for a shift in scale or the discovery of new possibilities in their work. In 2004, Loane worked with Brisbane-based artist Judith Wright on developing a series of prints based on her dance-derived films and drawings. Wright was surprised by how her fragile shadow drawings were transformed by the process of printmaking into robust and monumental pieces, such as her 2004 etching One dances. The elongated abstract shape is printed in a soft transparent black, which echoes the shadow of dancers in the spotlight.

Artist and printer Franck Gohier is recognised for his pivotal role in initiating Indigenous printmaking in the Top End. He began printing at the Northern Territory University in 1992 and helped establish their groundbreaking print workshop with Leon Stainer and George Watts. They formed links with the community and initiated printmaking workshops to encourage painters such as Rover Thomas, Queenie Mckenzie, Tommy Bung Bung, Lily Karadada and Paddy Carlton to try other mediums. Printmaking offered a new way of recording traditional stories and Gohier introduced the artists to lithography, etching, woodcuts and linocuts, which he printed in the rich earth tones of the desert country. In 1997, funding cuts to universities prompted Gohier to set up the independent print workshop Red Hand Print Studio with Shaun Poustie (formerly of Red Planet Posters). This open-access studio was founded on the principle of community-based printmaking, and underpinned by the Gohier and Poustie’s ideological vision that prioritised the hand of the artist above the commercial viability of the image. Red Hand continued to work with established and emerging artists based in Aboriginal communities. After Poustie moved to Sydney in 1999, Gohier continued to run the workshop before setting up his own studio in 2000 to concentrate on producing his own works on paper.

Cicada Press, based at the College of Fine Arts in Sydney, follows the Bauhaus-derived apprenticeship model and was established in 2003 by the Head of Printmaking Studies, Michael Kempson. It offers short-term residencies to established artists, who are invited to produce a series of prints, which are often editioned by students from the printmaking workshop. This dynamic exchange enriches the process for the artists—many of whom have had limited experience in printmaking—and allows the students to gain invaluable insight into the artist’s process. The residency program often results in exciting new works such as Adam Cullen’s 2001 dark and spiky relief etching Local concerns which, although condensed in size, contains the same disturbing energy as his forceful large-scale paintings. Other participants have included senior New South Wales artists Elisabeth Cummings, John Peart, John Coburn and Reg Mombassa as well as younger Sydney-based figurative artists Adam Cullen, Cherry Hood, Nicholas Harding, Euan MacLeod, David Fairbairn and Ben Quilty. Cicada Press has also had a long-term commitment to working with Indigenous artists based in Sydney and remote communities.

The acquisition of this significant group of prints has been a fantastic accomplishment for the Gordon Darling Australia Pacific Print Fund in the twenty-fifth birthday year, and has further strengthened the National Gallery of Australia’s exceptional collection of contemporary prints.


Sarina Noordhuis-Fairfax
Curator, Australian Prints and Drawings
in artonview, issue 56, summer 2008–09

in artonview, issue 56 summer 2008