Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Australian Print Triennial: Sustaining Art Practice as a Non- Conventional Route – namely teaching

Incised Collagraph Plate

I recently presented a thematic overview of my practice at the inaugural Australian Print Triennial, Mildura, as part of a panel discussing Sustaining art practice as a non- conventional route – namely teaching, highlighting some of the challenges I faced since leaving art school, the things I have done to maintain the momentum essential to a vital creative career, and reflect the organic evolvement of my arts practice.

In my first two years of art school I focused on drawing and learning the techniques of printmaking.
Life drawing, self-portraits, cityscapes, landscapes and found objects making up much of my subject matter. In third year I started to develop a visual language Inspired by a visit to Jamieson in north-east Victoria.
Jo Lankester, Jamieson, 1994, Multi-colour plate collagraph, 100 x 75cm, Artist Proof, Printed at VCA by Jo Lankester
I observed the natural beauty of the patterning of lichens living symbiotically on the surface of rocks. I was inspired to translate the colours, shapes and texture into my prints abandoning the literalness of depiction. On my return to the art school studio, Neil Malone encouraged me to explore the process of Carborundum Collagraph printmaking.

Jo Lankester, Jamieson lll, 1994, Multi-colour plate collagraph, 100 x 75cm, Artist Proof, Printed at VCA by Jo Lankester
I was naturally moving towards working on a large scale and excited to be introducing colour. My new work retained a figurative quality while exploring abstraction to convey a sense of place.
John Scurry head of printmaking, encouraged me to submit a triptych 100 x 230cm to the Canson Student Print Award in 1994.
Jo Lankester, Far Northern Colours, 1995, Multi-colour plate Collagraph, 100 x 75cm, Edition: 5, Printed at APW by Jo Lankester
I was awarded the prize and this had a massive impact on my transition from student to young emerging artist. The prize was 6 months free access to the Australian Print Workshop Access Studio (APW), and 2 weeks working in the custom print studio with Martin King as an artist in residence.
Jo Lankester, Dingya, 1995, Collagraph with hand coloured paper with Ochre, 56 x 76cm, Edition 5, Printed at APW by Jo Lankester
This opportunity catapulted my entry as a young emerging artist into a professional printmaking studio. I found myself surrounded by new mentors, directly and indirectly. The challenges I faced working in the custom studio with Martin King was a lack of experience as an artist in residence. I remember it being quite overwhelming.
Jo Lankester, Etched Environment, 1995, Etching, 88 x 75cm, Edition: 5, Printed at APW by Jo Lankester
I was given a number a large pieces of copper to work with and I struggled with knowing how to create the textural marks of the collargraph in etching. Martin recognized this and generously shared his skills and ideas, suggesting what techniques to use. During this time the APW supported me with the opportunity to exhibit, and participate in commissioned projects.
Jo Lankester, Weathered Rockface, 1995, Etching & spitbite, 76 x 56cm, Edition APW 1/1, Printed at APW by Martin King
I made a decision to have children at a relatively early age and at the start of my career as a printmaking artist. Shortly after starting a family we relocated to Townsville, Far North Queensland. I was determined to keep drawing and printing, so I purchased a small etching press to take with me.
In the early days, this decision had a big impact on the direction of my arts practice.
Jo Lankester, Cape Pallerenda from Kissing Point, 2000, Etching, Aquatint, 28.5 x 59.5cm, Edition: 25, Exchange folio curated by Rona Green, Printed at JCU by Jo Lankester
The lovely and charismatic printmaker, Fed Genis was staying with my mum in Melbourne while collaborating with Daniel Moynihan, and being a close friend of Ron McBurnie’s, Daniel encouraged me to introduce myself to Ron at James Cook University. I was ecstatic to be back in contact with printmaking artists and discovered I had found a new mentor. Not long after meeting Ron came the invitation to teach in the printmaking department a few hours a week. I was living the dream, teaching, sharing my passion, skills and experiences, and I had access to a large press to produce prints for exhibitions.
Jo Lankester, Wulguru, 2002, Multi-colour plate, Collagraph, 56 x 76 cm, Edition 5, Printed at JCU by Jo Lankester
 It’s been important and essential to my creative career to maintain connections to the Melbourne and National print scene. Including participating in exchange folios. Attending the National Gallery o Australia Print Symposiums and keeping up to date with my peers nationally through Imprint magazine. Volunteering and working in the arts, being an active board member for artist run initiatives, and Incorporated art spaces.

Volunteering at Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, led to an 8 year appointment in exhibitions and collections. My intentions in taking the position was to work for 2 year’s full time, gaining industry knowledge and a new set of skills. Early on in my appointment my long term relationship broke down influencing my decision to remain in full time employment.During this period I produced relatively little work until 2008.
Jo Lankester, Midday, 2008, Multi-colour plate dremel drypoint, 30 x 20cm, Edition: 5, Printed in home studio by Jo Lankester
In 2010 I chose to leave my position and return to my practice full time.
The next couple of years were spent like my journeyman years at University, concentrating on drawing and mastering the techniques of printmaking again.

An ongoing challenge I faced over the years is the lack of constructive criticism that I had become accustomed to during critique sessions at Art School.

Through experience, I knew of the energy and effort required to succeed as a professional artist in a regional centre. Without gallery representation I knew I had to gain a new set of skills, including business, marketing, and internet marketing and social media. My career has evolved organically through hard work and determination, I apply integrity, honesty and a strong work ethic to everything I do. I am an opportunist, I say yes to everything, and I feel the fear and do it anyway.
Brush & Press Studio, Townsville, Dec 2010 – Dec 2013
Renew Townsville allowed me the opportunity to open my own gallery and print studio. Brush and Press was open 7 days a week, and appealed to the general public, artists, and visitors to Townsville.
It was a unique concept and vision for Townsville, it was innovative and progressive, contributing to urban revitalization through public appeal and engagement and adding life to the CBD.
Supervillains, All male print exhibition, Curated by Kathy Cornwall, Brush & Press Studio, 30 March – 20 May 2012
The studio was professional, and successful on many different levels. We engaged new audiences, provided opportunity and created income for many printmaking artists in the community. Emerging curators and artists explored their ideas through exhibitions, accessing the equipment or hiring my services to assist with printing.
Laura Castell, Brush & Press Studio, August 2011, Printing for Neoteric print exhibition
It became a hangout for many artists, a meeting place, and a place to be inspired.
A comment left in the visitor’s book. “Brush & Press is one of the best additions to the Townsville art scene in years – high quality work, beautiful gallery and genuine artisan workshop. If this great quality can be maintained and replicated the new mall will become once again the true centre of Townsville.”

I am passionate about my personal commitment to printmaking and the development of its profile in our community. I maintain a linkage to number of artist run initiatives, an arts organisations in Townsville, through exhibiting and curating exhibitions.
Jo Lankester & Douglas Arana, Brush & Press Studio, August 2011, Printing for Neoteric print exhibition
 I instigated a program, with the support of Umbrella Studio, to curate an exhibition featuring local printmakers and to run a number of workshops focused on various printmaking processes to coincide with Impact 7, for the Month of Print. The exhibition examined contemporary print practice of emerging and mid-career printmakers living in Townsville, while supporting the transfer of skills within the community.
Karen Fiorito & Jo Lankester, International Artist in Residence, Brush & Press Studio, August 2011, Printing for Neoteric print exhibition
Brush & Press studio closed at the end of the Renew Townsville project in late 2013.

My passion is shared with other printmaking artists in our region, including Ron McBurnie, who mentored and encouraged local printmaking artists to form a group, meet regularly, share knowledge and skills, exchange prints, exhibit, engaging with local, national and international communities.

Peter Lancaster & Eliza Turnbull, Residency & Workshop, PressNorth Printmakers, Professional Development Project, Umbrella Studio of Contemporary Arts, 11 – 18 November 2013
PressNorth Printmakers was formed in 2009. The accomplishment of our initiatives relies entirely on the voluntary efforts and dedicated hard work of the management committee and members.
Through connecting and maintaining friendships with my contemporaries nationally, I developed a program that received funding to bring leading technicians and printmaking artists to Townsville to further our education.
G.W. Bot, Residency & Workshop, PressNorth Printmakers, Professional Development Project, Umbrella Studio of Contemporary Arts, 2 – 9 March 2014
This program provided new mentors for me personally and for the artists who attended the workshops.
Trent Walter, Residency & Workshop, PressNorth Printmakers, Professional Development Project, Umbrella Studio of Contemporary Arts, 19 – 27 April 2014
Investing my time, energy and passion in PressNorth Printmakers not only helps me maintain the momentum so essential in a vital creative career but contributes directly to all the artists, and members of the community involved.
PressNorth Printmakers, Professional Development Project, Judy Watson, Residency & Workshop, Umbrella Studio of Contemporary Arts, 2 – 9 June 2014
Currently my energy and focus is primarily concentrated on developing new audiences for my prints and maintaining the momentum of printmaking in my local community. With the support of the Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville, I held my first major solo exhibition last year, titled Cornerstone.
Published on the occasion of, Cornerstone by Jo Lankester, Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, 18 July – 24 August 2014, Publication Design and Development, Rob Donaldson / Eric Nash / Shane Fitzgerald
Gallery director, Shane Fitzgerald, and curator, Eric Nash, worked with their team of staff to produce a publication of a high standard to accompany the exhibition. This publication has been a valuable tool in furthering my career, whilst demonstrating the gallery’s dedication to promoting Townsville artists. 
Julie Chambers & Shane Fitzgerald, Cornerstone exhibition opening, 18 July 2014
Julie Chamber was invited to Townsville to open Conerstone and give a public presentation about the wonderful achievements of The Art Vault, and what it offers artists, while contributing to cultural tourism.

Symbiosis, Jo Lankester, The Art Vault, 16 Sept– 5 Oct 2015
An invitation from Julie came earlier this year to participate in the exhibition and residency program at The Art Vault. And a few weeks later and invitation to participate in the first Australian Print Triennial.
Andrew Svrta, Emily Kiddell, Trent Walter, & Wendy Murray at The Australian Print Triennial
I feel incredibly blessed to have so many mentors, past and present, who believe in me and support my arts practice. 
Jo Lankester, Rew Hanks, & Wendy Murray at The Australian Print Triennial
Thank you, Dr Sasha Grishin, Julie & Kevin Chambers, the staff at The Art Vault, and all the presenters and participants for making the inaugural Australian Print Triennial such a fantastic and memorable event. I look forward to the next one in 2018.
Mandy Gunn, Heather Shimmen & Arone Meeks, The Art Vault, The Australian Print Triennial