Over 16 years ago now, I was living in the UK and wanting to expand my printmaking horizons. I was thinking of returning to Australia, and decided to build up some contacts before I came over. I hadn’t ever studied printmaking in Australia, so I had no idea who to approach.
Then I discovered print exchanges. I began with an exchange group called ‘Print Australia’. To my dismay, I was being asked to produce editions of between 20 and 40 prints. I’d never done more than ten prints in a row before! But I rose to the challenge and disciplined myself to make sure that every print was as good as the previous one. For every 20 or so prints that I sent, I received an equal number of prints by twenty different artists not just from Australia but from all over the world. I was hooked – this was an education that no degree course in printmaking could compete with. Every printmaker was happy to tell me how they made their prints, what inspired them and what kept them going. I soon found myself involved in two or three print exchanges almost every year, and I had friends and contacts in every continent.
I’ve been in Adelaide now for 13 years and I am still taking part in print exchanges. This year is extra special: I am running my own exchange, entitled Winged Messengers, and it will be exhibited at the Hahndorf Academy during the Adelaide Fringe Festival, in late February and March. You can follow its progress on its Facebook page. When all the prints have arrived I will post them here on the Print Exchange page. Kate Gorringe-Smith was a further source of inspiration when I discovered that she had organised the ‘Flyway’ Print Exchange, which was exhibited at the Ozasia Festival in Adelaide and also in Federation Square in Melbourne in September last year.