Artists travel to the studio, generally staying for a week, and work
with master printer Marian Maguire and her team on single images or
suites of work.
Each printmaking medium has its own characteristics and it is the
response the artist makes to their chosen medium that enlivens the work.
All the images produced at PaperGraphica are limited edition original
multiples. They are not copies of previously existing artworks, and both
artist and printer work intimately with the process.
Maguire, who received her BFA from Canterbury University and then
trained further at the Tamarind Institute of Lithography in 1986, has
been a collaborative printmaker for 13 years. She has worked with some
of the leading figures in New Zealand art and believes that printmaking
brings out an aspect of an artist's vision that is often unexpressed in
their other work.
PaperGraphica's philosophy is to maintain quality at every step of the
process, to ensure that the work environment is always supportive and
creative, and to experiment and challenge the medium so that artists can
find visual expression within printmaking.
An original print is a
handmade artwork produced by an artist who has manipulated printing
processes and materials to create a distinctly printerly image. By
contrast a reproduction, or commercial print, utilises scanning or photo
process to replicate a pre-existing work. Lithographs, etchings,
screenprints and woodcuts produced by artists are 'original multiples',
artworks in their own right. They have the added advantage of being
produced in editions, and thus accessible to a larger number of people,
with no loss of quality or artistic intent.
Each print medium has its
own characteristics and potentialities and it is these qualities that draw
artists to the printmaking process. The artist draws directly onto the
printing element (eg. drawing with crayon and wash on litho stone and
plate, carving woodblocks, scribing metal plates) to establish printing
surfaces. A different printing element is made for each colour. The
processing, proofing and alteration stages follow during which the image
is developed and refined and at times radically altered. The different
print surfaces are then printed in layers over each other to produce the
finished limited edtion. Each print is then pencil signed and numbered by
the artist to establish authenticity.
Oringinal fine prints are
generally printed on high quality European or Japanese papers with
light-fast inks so that they achieve the archival standards acceptable to
museums and private collectors.
Woodcut is the oldest of
the printmaking media and was developed first in China then in Europe
during the Middle Ages. As woodcut pre-dates the invention of letterpress,
early woodcuts often included text. A large proportion of the population
were illiterate, however, so woodcuts were an important way of
communicating ideas and information. Woodcuts were used as an art medium
by artists such as Bruegal, and notably Albrecht Durer who also worked
extensively with metal engraving. The Japanese developed woodcut printing
to a fine art from the mid-1600's; the work of Hokusai, Kunisada and
Utamaro showing particular expression and refinement. In Europe, Munch and
the German Expressionists revived the medium and later Picasso and Matisse
pursued its variation - the linocut.
are made by carving with chisels into a timber or particle board surface
to create a relief image. Ink is then either rolled or dabbed onto the
surface and an impression taken by placing paper on the inked block and
passing them both through a press. A different carved block is required
for each colour.
Woodcuts often have a
vigorous appearance with high contrast between black and white. They may
show a woodgrain, but can also yield a flat surface. Because the block has
a relief surface the paper is slightly embossed by the printing process.
The inventor of
lithography, Aloys Senefelder, discovered in 1798 that the principle of
repulsion between oil and water could be used as the basis of a printing
medium. His initial discoveries were made on Bavarian limestone, the
material that many hand-lithographers still use today. Photography was
invented around 1820, and by the 1850's photolithography was developed; it
was this process that completely revolutionised print media in the
nineteenth century. The process used in most lithography studios today is
close to Senefelder's original method.
The artist draws directly
on finely ground but untreated Bavarian limestone or alluminium plate with
greasy crayons, pencils and washes. This drawing is then treated with gum
arabic and acid so the white areas will attract water and only the image
will accept the oil-based ink.. During printing the stone is dampened with
a sponge and inked with a greasy roller which delivers ink to the
originally drawn areas. An impression is then taken by laying paper on the
stone and passing them both through a press. Lithographs
characteristically have the quality of granular crayon or undulating
washes, but lithography can be adapted to a wide range of drawing
From the early 1800's
artists have used lithography as an expressive graphic medium, responding
quickly to the beautiful, receptive surface of the stone and exploring its
capacity for tonal and textural variation. Gericault, Dealcroix and Goya
were some of the first artists to make lithographs and later in the
century Toulous-Lautrec, Daumier, Degas, Redon and Munch worked with
Parisian printers. The first half of the 20th century saw a gradual
decline in skills and knowledge but some artists made work of note
particularly Bonnard, Vuillard, Picasso, Chagall, Miro and Matisse. The
1950's and 1960's saw a revival of interest in the medium, particularly in
the United States. Numerous lithographs have been made over the past 40
years that expand the use of colour and challenge the traditional notionns
of scale. Contemporary artists who have worked extensively with the medium
include Jasper Johns, Robert Raushenberg, Helen Frankenthaller, Robert
Motherwell, Sam Francis and Frank Stella.
acid etching of metal plates for printmaking developed from a process
initially created for patterning gun metal in the early renaissance. The
related method of engraving metal with small sharp tools had already been
invented and continued to be effective for creating multiple images.
Etching came into its own as an expressive medium at the hands of artists
such as Rembrandt, Piranesi and Goya. The acid etching of copper, steel
and zinc to create artworks still continues because of the incredible
quality of line and the sensuous ink and paper fusing that the process
When making an etching the
artist first coats the plate with a protective waxy ground and then draws
through the ground with a scriber, thereby removing part of the waxy film.
The plate is placed in an acid bath and the acid eats into the exposed
metal creating a groove. An impression is then taken by wedging ink into
the grooves and buffing it off the surface. A dampened sheet of paper and
felt blanket are placed over the plate and, as it runs through the press,
the softened paper is forced into grooves thereby picking up the ink. This
is called intaglio printing. Intaglio prints such as engravings, drypoints
and etchings are easily identified because an embossed impression of the
plate is left on the paper and the image is slightly raised. The
variations, soft-ground and aquatint, can be used to create texture and
artist prints are in most cases printed on either European cotton rag
paper or handmade Japanese paper.
Cotton rag paper has been
made for the last six hundred years in European paper mills, some of which
still operate today. These traditional papers have good printing qualities
being made of interlocking cellulose strands that offer a soft and
absorbant yet durable surface. They are thus able to pick up all the
nuances of the stone or plate surface in single or multiple colours.
Japanese papermaking is an art in itself and the careful choice and use of
a Japanese paper can sensitively enhance by contributing texture and to
the reading of the artwork.
Being low in acid these
papers have good archival qualities and are of a standard suitable for