Open House at Arts in Oxford

Open House is a great experience. We are in the final few weeks of the artist in residence project (on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays) . We think we have spoken to the public for about 60% of the time we have been in the gallery working. Its has been very satisfying to talk to visitors and to realise how many people out there are actually very curious about how printmakers make images, how we research and experiment. We have all enjoyed being artists together, a great opportunity to exchange ideas and learn in good company. Just such a great idea; we have been very honoured be invited and very pleased to take part.

Fellow invited artists with Jo Ernsten are Kathy Anderson, Casey Macaulay, Ruth Stanton McLeod, Kris Waldin, Tessa Warburton. Last weekend visitors were offered the opportunity to print and take home a calico carry bag. We have made some more which are now on sale in the gallery.

Here are some photos I have taken of some work made to date. First up is an image of my table and some old and new work on the wall.

I have been using rock pigments from the Eyre/Waiaraki River that runs by Oxford. Water only runs through the braided river bed after rain, and the close-by headwaters are in and around the Mt Oxford hills. Weeds can grow and make the shingle beds unsuitable for nesting birds, but there is still lots to see at any time of the year. We have collected some of the weeds to make paper at the Gallery, and I am using some of this paper in my Open House art. I’ve been making *muller imprints with the paint I’ve made – browns, reds and greys. I have included paint made from green Waimakariri River rock as well – that river is not far from Oxford, and the Eyre/Waiaraki River eventually joins the Waimakariri closer to the coast. The Eyre/Waiaraki River used to end in swampy ground situated to the north of the point where it is now diverted into the Waimakariri.

From various maps I have drawn a section of the braided river in Oxford, made dry-point prints of the river bed structure (always moving!) and a selection of introduced weeds as well as New Zealand native plants that are found around and in the river bed.

*Muller imprints are made with the tool that is used to grind the pigment powder into the binder. The suction created by lifting the muller off the paint creates the patterns on the muller base that I then imprint on to paper. I have made two layered concertina booklets using the pigments and the braided river as inspiration. Not finished yet! A couple of other books using print and paint are also in progress.

More to come later.

‘Accumulative’ exhibition Print


Waimakariri Near and Far, mono print on paper.  Detail of one of my Accumulative exhibition prints with Waimakariri and Waikari rock paints.

Summer printing

In my spare time… I’ve been doing some printing; actually it is becoming a little obsessive which surprises me as it has taken a while for the process to become second nature.  I no longer approach the press with trepidation.  Anyway, there is a lot to learn which is good, and the block or plate making part of the process is great – full of possibilities.

I have been organising a life drawing group and the first print shown below started life as a transfer print from a photocopy of one of my drawings. The inked plate was run through the press after making the transfer print, so that the drawing appeared on this second printing as a white line.  The mossy, stone-like inky background has possibly a good connection to the second image which is a lino block print – and my second attempt at carving lino.  The print shows the reverse of ‘Meigle No 4’ which is a Pictish cross slab.  The decoration surrounding it is what I can only call an exercise in ‘control of the carving tool’.

We visited the Meigle Sculptured Stone Museum in Perthshire, Scotland, in 2012 when staying near Alyth which was home to the generations of Barclays and Colvilles in my family tree.  The cross slab image was copied from the photograph in George and Isabel Henderson’s book, The Art of the Picts.  This is part of my cultural heritage that I feel I can use in my art – by association with place if not by genetic inheritance which, if you go back far enough, will be unknown.  We also saw the Pictish stones at the Eassie churchyard in Angus, and my two photos taken there follow the print images.



This Eassie cross slab is enclosed in thick glass for protection, accounting for the reflections seen in the photo. Very impressive object. The Historic Scotland information panel explains what is known about the iconography and history of these stones.