The workshop concludes

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Today was the last day of the workshop. I introduced the lovely soy wax/litho ink soft ground in a short demonstration in the morning and we spent the rest of the day working on plates with all of the techniques that the group learned over the last 3 days. I think the pictures will tell the story better than words.

Diane Victor’s soft ground in progress – we had to make some adjustments to the ferric bath after her ground lifted. But we all put our heads together and solved the problem. Always learning!
Heidi, one of the teachers, working on her soft ground drawing
one of the student’s photo transfer etchings
A photo transfer plate (copper) and a combo coffee lift/soft ground (aluminum)
Vincent beginning his soft ground drawing
More plates in progress
Gordon Froud’s work in progress
More soft ground//coffee lift combinations
Ilse’s lovely soft ground etching
Me and the wonderful Kim Berman, founder of Artist Proof Studio
Selfie with Rene, Gildo and Thabogo
Our whole wonderful group on the last day

I’m just so pleased by the way these safer/less toxic techniques have been received here. There’s a real interest in change, which is not always easy. Lucas, the shop manager is committed to the changes and all of the teachers see real opportunities to educate a new generation of artists in safer practices. By including both teachers and students in this initial learning, they are creating leaders within the student body and i can feel their own sense of empowerment as they master new techniques. You can see it in their smiling faces.

It’s challenging to get materials from overseas here (the post office is notoriously slow), import fees are high and money is tight. The fact that Artist Proof Studio has made a commitment to change their toxic practices is so admirable.

Lucas and I will sit down next week and talk about recipes and alternative, locally sourced ingredients that they can use to make acrylic grounds. He’s already sourced an environmentally safe solvent alternative, invested in an airbrush and compressor and welded a hot plate cover for baking grounds. Andrew Baldwin, the inventor of BIG ground has sent 6 tubes to the studio to get them started. They are currently lost in the postal system, but will hopefully make their way to the studio soon. In the meantime, the tubes I brought will carry them through their first tests.

In addition to the APS folks, the message of safer printmaking has been embraced by the other artists, educators and studio representatives at the workshop, including Jill Ross from David Krut Studio; Eloff Pretorius from University KwaZulu Natal and Caversham Press (who has been doing his own research in the field); Vedant Nanackchand, head of Visual Arts at the University of Johannesburg; Diane Victor and Gordon Froud, independent artists; Sharon Sampson and Mandy Conidaris, organizers of the Johannesburg Print Fair. It feels great to see how this is rippling through the printmaking culture of South Africa.

It’s been very hot and every afternoon the sky opens up with a fierce thunderstorm. Kim and I drove home through rushing rivers of water in the streets!

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