Interview [Blog Interview #57] Christine Porter

Chistine PorterArt Chat caught up with Christine Porter prior to her upcoming demonstration at Red Hill Gallery Brisbane, to be held on SUNDAY AFTERNOON 19 OCTOBER 2014 between 2pm and 3pm. Christine is thrilled to be able to show her many clients and followers this intriguing art form at the Red Hill Gallery, situated in Brisbane’s leafy and trendy inner suburb of Red Hill. She will talk about her award winning art and demonstrate the process with her small travelling etching press in situ.   

Painter, teacher, printmaker, publisher ... Christine Porter is a woman of many talents. Her delightful paintings and etchings have been a long time favourite in many art galleries around the world – and of course at the Red Hill Gallery.

A full time professional artist, she is represented in many public and corporate collections including the National Gallery of Australia, and closer to home in the Brisbane City Council collection.  Both her rural watercolours and her more personal multi-plate colour etchings have taken her throughout eastern Australia, across the Tasman and around the world. Her last international exhibition was in Edinburgh.   

AC: “Tell us about your artistic journey with Red Hill Gallery?” 

CP: I think it was about 1990 when I first began exhibiting with Red Hill Gallery – almost 25 years ago (Goodness! I can still remember how nervous I was coming in that day). I was 28 years old. One of my first paintings that year won the grand champion painting at our art show in Goondiwindi. The judge asked me who I was showing with in Brisbane.  I was astonished! I’d never considered such a thing! He introduced me to the then owners of the Red Hill Gallery.  I have shown with youever since, and I love it.

My practice in the early nineties concentrated on watercolour paintings of rural Australia where I lived. Since then it has expanded to include printmaking, which I love.  I find that keeping my etchings small, and in multiples, helps keep it in the public eye and also gives me a chance to explore different narratives. I also teach about making art as well as being an art-professional. I have created a small publishing company that publishes my art-cards.

AC: “The process of creating your etchings is quite involved, tell us about how you create them?”  

CP: In its simplest form, images are scratched into a thin piece of metal or plastic (DRYPOINT). Other techniques include ETCHING that involves laying a protective surface over a metal plate, drawing through the coating then dipping the plate into a bath of acid, thus etching the image.   

Printmaking is a choice that’s based on the sort of story I’m telling with the artwork. Sometimes I pick up a brush, sometimes the print studio calls.  It can take up to a year for the image to be resolved, but once the plate is made, it is inked by hand, then printed onto a sheet of paper with a press that looks like an old fashioned mangle, that then squeezes the ink from the scratches onto the paper. The process of inking and printing is repeated by hand for each individual print. The aim is to create uniformity, however there are often small differences within an edition.   

Multi-plate etching involves using two or three plates, with different “scratches” on each that add layers of information to the image.

A group of prints, all the same or similar to each other, printed from the same plate is called an edition. Each individual artwork is signed by the artist, usually on the front, often with a title, and includes a number that indicates how many prints in the edition. For example 15/30 is the commitment by the artist that there are only 30 prints made, that they are all the same  or very similar to each other , and that this print is number 15 of that 30.

AC: “Your watercolour paintings are single one-off artworks, however your etchings are ‘originals created as multiples’. What do you mean by that?  

CP: Etchings belong to the artwork genre of PRINTMAKING. They are original, handmade artworks, like paintings or drawings. However, because this art form pre-dates commercial printing and photography they are deliberately created so that the image can be printed several times, onto separate pieces of paper, all the same or similar to each other.  The signature and numbering of the prints are an important element of this type of art work. Etchings are not printed commercially by a machine or desk top printer (such as the digital process known as giclée printing), but by hand. Each print is individually inked, wiped and printed by hand in a process that is hundreds of years old.

AC: “This is the first time that you have demonstrated your etching technique at Red Hill Gallery. What can we expect to see on Sunday?”  

CP: My plan is to show you some of the unframed etchings I’ve brought with me, including a 23 plate etching that is a bit special, as well as some others you may not have seen. I’m going to create an instant drypoint etching and print it before your very eyes. I’ve got the plates for the RED SHOES and I plan to print one of those if there’s time. I’ve stories to tell about how this etching has won CHAMPION prizes in competitions across the country. I’ll even be wearing the red shoes that were my inspiration!

There’ll be time for questions and if anyone wants to have a go at making their own little drypoint, etching there’ll be gear there.  I love sharing the magic. Just about everyone finds it an interesting process. There’ll also be a glass of champagne!

(I might even have a small prize for anyone who wears their favourite red shoes to this event on Sunday afternoon…)   

Put on your ‘red shoes’, grab some friends and enjoy Christine’s demonstration at Red Hill Gallery  61 Musgrave Road, Red Hill on Sunday October 19th between 2pm and 3pm. There is nothing like interesting art, champagne and a gallery garden atmosphere to make your weekend.