Letter from Townsville


Some most exciting events in Townsville are taking place In the field of printmaking with the publication In book form of Ron McBurnle's "Suburban" etchlngs and the development of an outside access print workshop. About the latter Vlcky Lyn and Judy Watson have the full story:

To wnsville artists have never had the opportunity to explore printmaking processes beyond back yard screen printing. Unless they set up their own workshops or enrol at the TAFE College,

processes such as lithography and etching are unavailable to them. Of course it is expensive and impractical to set up private workshops for these mediums, and one cannot be enrolled in an art course forever. Unfortunately, it is for this reason that Townsville loses many of its graduating art students.

Printmakers of a high standard emerging from the college have little choice but to move to better equipped southern centres, or to confine their techniques to suit the lack of facilities. These limitations have been major concerns for the members of "Umbrella Studio".

"Umbrella Studio" occupies an old shop in Flinders Street, Townsville. Initially established by

a motivated group of TAFE students in 1984, the studio serves to provide workspace for its

five members. lt has become an increasingly active centre for artists to meet and work. Being the first shared artspace of its kind in Townsville, "Umbrella" has great potential. This has been realised by two of its members, Judy Watson and Vicky Lyn. In their application for the 1988 William Buttner Scholarship, they proposed to utilise the studio to set up a public access printmaking facility. Many thanks to the Queensland Art Gallery for granting them success with their application; the "Umbrella Etching Workshop" is now going ahead.

Opening in April 1988, the workshop aims to cater for graduating printmaking students and artists who wish to work within the etching medium. lt will be available for rental by artists in the area and "Umbrella" members will conduct weekend etching workshops. Also planned is an exhibition of selected prints executed there during 1988.

"Umbrella's" members see this not as an all inclusive answer, but as only the first step to rectify

the lack of accessible printmaking facilities in the north. In addition to this, they believe that the workshop will further enhance the growing climate for community art awareness and provide an incentive for artists to become involved.

Currently participating in the setting up of the Umbrella Etching Workshop are artist/ printmakers, Ron McBumie, Judy Watson, Vicki Lyn, Glen Skein, Maggi Thompson and silversmith, Douglas Herriman. "Umbrella" welcomes any enquiries by telephoning, (077)7271 09, (077)722790, (077)794082 or writing to co-ordinators Vicki Lyn or Judy Watson, "Umbrella Studio", 631 Flinders Street, Townsville, OLD 4810.

The Perc Tucker Regional Gallery will be the venue for Ron McBurnie's wacky suburban prints, which arose from a personal collection of anecdotes. These bizarre but compelling works are exhibited together with poetry inspired by the images. A book will be launched at the same time. lt seems in Ron's company one discovers the most eccentric things, from uncle Chip sending the household ducks skywards in a box kite to a vicious dog attacking the postman who delivers Dogworld magazine.

Ron cuts his way through such moments with his etching needle exhibiting a fine combination of slightly fiendish visual wit, mild sarcasm, and featherlight humanism. The elaboration of the etching process, the time element in the production of these cameos of trivial events, takes them from the casual into the archetypal.

McBurnie acknowledges his debt to George Baldessin and David Hackney taking both stylistic and conceptual leads from these artists. However Ron is able to weave these influences into a language of his own which displays a unique Queensland quality. Ron's book will be available from selected galleries.