Eclipse and Ice inspire pair's works

ANNA PEARSO
Last updated 12:11 07/11/2012
hampden art gala
PATRICK HAMILTON/FAIRFAX NZ

FINE PRINT: Craig Bluett and Wendy Murphy with works from Black Illumination at designroom in Nile St.

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A former Richmond man and his partner explore the depths of printmaking in their joint exhibition at designroom in Nile St West.

Black Illumination features works by Craig Bluett, who had his first show at Chez Eelco coffee house in Trafalgar St in the 1970s, and Wendy Murphy.

The Marlborough-based couple live and breathe art together.

Murphy, a secondary-school art teacher, and Bluett, an after-school art tutor, have a shared workshop away from their home.

It's a messy business, but the finished works have pride of place on their household walls.

Murphy says there's a strong connection between their works, despite their different printmaking techniques.

Her prints are created using a dry-point engraving process, by scratching or etching images on metal plates.

"I like the fact that it's always a surprise when you make a print - you never know exactly what it's going to look like," she says.

Murphy's works were inspired by a lunar eclipse the couple witnessed while driving along the Kaikoura coastline in the early hours of the morning.

"Everything just got darker and lighter again. It was really interesting," she says.

Bluett's works are monoprints printed from metal plates, including baking trays, from which he removes ink with various tools, such as knives, skewers and even his fingertips.

They are reminiscent of earlier photographs taken from glass plates by explorers, with a painterly and spontaneous effect, he says.

The works at designroom are part of a continuing series about human impacts on the Antarctic environment.

"Here is the vast white space travelled by early explorers - man against nature, fighting for survival. But now it's a different survival - survival of the environment, survival of the toothfish and preservation of the Ross Ice Shelf.

"The camera was used to record atrocities against humans and animals and the demise of the region. As many of these photos were printed from glass negatives, they often showed imperfections. I have mimicked these to emphasise the fragility of the region."

Black Illumination, Craig Bluett and Wendy Murphy, designroom in Nile St West, until November 23.

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