Proof reviewed on NZ Booklovers


Lyn Potter has reviewed Proof: Two decades of printmaking on NZ Booklovers:

Proof, published to celebrate the 20th anniversary of PCANZ, the Print Council of Aotearoa New Zealand, is a stunning book!

Its stylish grey cloth cover, with the title embossed in gold lettering, entices readers in to view 166 works by 151 of New Zealand’s best printmakers. Great care has been taken with their arrangement and to reproduce the original colours and textures as closely as possible. The result is a visual feast! Leafing through slowly to admire each work, is rather like taking a walk around a well curated art exhibition.

Each work is labelled with a few words from the artist. I found it really interesting to read why they chose such diverse techniques to convey their ideas.
It is phenomenal to see how much printmaking has evolved over just two decades! While some still take a traditional approach (woodcuts and etchings) many others are exploring new directions, often creating hybrid prints using a range of materials and tools. The impact of digital media is evident and there is also some ground-breaking three-dimensional work.
The subject matter too is wide ranging. Many have been inspired by our natural environment, others have created dreamscapes of past histories, surreal twilight worlds, chance encounters or experiences, explored female empowerment, or created modular reciprocating patterns.

At the beginning of the book esteemed printmaker and teacher, Dr Carole Shepheard traces the history of printmaking in New Zealand from its early days, when it was a neglected and marginalised art form, to where it stands today.

This is followed by Miriam Sharland’s essay on the history of PCANZ and how it was initiated in Wanganui over two decades ago by Marty Vreede, Head of the Bachelor of Fine Arts Printmaking course at Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic.

Initially the goal was to support printmakers within that central region of New Zealand. That this small group grew into the vibrant and strong nationwide organisation it is today is in no small measure due to the generosity and willingness of printmakers to run workshops, share their knowledge and to support newcomers.

The prints are arranged in three parts. Part One contains prints by Honorary Members who have made a major contribution to the practice of printmaking in Aotearoa. These include Barry Cleavin, Rodney Fumpston, Stanley Palmer, Carole Shepheard, Gary Tricker, and Robin White. In Part Two those who have, or are still, making exceptional contributions to PCANZ are honoured. Amongst these Life Members are Ruth Davey, Kathy Boyle, Val Cuthbert, and Toni Hartill. Part Three showcases prints by current PCANZ members from throughout Aotearoa.

For art teachers PROOF will undoubtedly be an invaluable resource to inspire their students. It is the first survey of fine art printmaking in Aotearoa to be published in nearly 50 years. The glossary of printmaking terms and techniques at the end of the book will also be helpful.

Close to home I am fortunate that there is a Printmaker’s hub at the Lakehouse Arts Centre in Takapuna, with its own studio, who mount a printmaking exhibition of their work each year in the gallery. But until I read PROOF I was not familiar with many of the other talented PCANZ printmakers around New Zealand.

I still love prints made by traditional printmaking techniques and some fine examples of these are included. But it is also truly exciting to see how many printmakers are pushing the boundaries and creating innovative and ground-breaking works.

Proof a superb book, and I would highly recommend it to all art lovers!’