'In the Eye of the Beholder', Linocut
Penny Peckham is a printmaker and writer based in Victoria, Australia. Her work is inspired by her background in Art History.
What was your first experience of printmaking?
My first printmaking teacher at art school was Heather Shimmen, a very creative and talented artist who makes wonderful complex, fragmented and layered linocut prints. She's probably the reason I'm still working with lino!
What inspires you as an artist?
The work of other artists, particularly women artists. I have a background in Art-History, with a special interest in women artists, so a lot of my work has directly related to Art Historical sources, particularly art by women or with women, or women's activities as subject. Also, I work in an art gallery, Heide Museum of Modern Art, and there is always something there to inspire me. A recent exhibition of Louise Bourgeois' work spoke to me particularly powerfully.
What are you working on at present?
My current body of work is a series of linocut prints called A Taxonomy of (Art) Cats - cats taken from a wide range of Art Historical sources, labelled and organised into mock scientific classifications - sleeping cats, walking, sitting up etc. I recently exhibited these in a fairly playful exhibition called The Obsession of a Woman of a Certain Age - Cohen & Cats.
'A Taxonomy of (Art) Cats - Sitting Up, Walking, Sleeping', Linocut
What is special about printmaking?
I love the physicality of the paper, and the ink on its surface, the indentation left by the plate/matrix and, of course, the moment of revelation when the first print is pulled!
What is your favourite printmaking process, and why?
I have worked primarily in relief linocuts - for many reasons: partly inspired by my early teacher, Heather Shimmen, and partly because I find the process of cutting very satisfying. I like the directness of the process. For a period when I did not have access to a press I was able to make work, printing by hand, using lightweight Japanese papers. Having only fairly recently acquired my own small press I have plans to experiment more with collagraphs and cardboard-plate drypoints. I did a workshop in the latter last year but haven't done much myself since.
What prompted you to take part in the International Print Exchange?
I have participated in several print exchanges this year because I love the idea of sending my prints off around the world and making connections with other printmakers from around the world.
What is your favourite colour?
I primarily print with black, but have also often in red ink, particularly on red Japanese paper.
What is your favourite paper and ink?
BFK Rives 270g. When printing linocuts by hand I use Awagami Unryushi. I have enjoyed working with Graphic oil-based inks, which wash up in water, but have also recently worked with Akua water based Intaglio ink, which works well for relief as well.
What kind of music do you listen to whilst printmaking?
I listen to a range of music, mostly in the genres of poet/singer/songwriter, folk, blues, alt country, especially Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Rodriquez, Mary Coughlan, Gram Parsons, and some locals - Paul Kelly, Suzannah Espie etc.
Who is your favourite printmaker?
I really admire the work of Barbara Hanrahan (Australian 1939-1991) who was both an artist/printmaker and a writer. Her work was very personal, relating to her family, personal relationships, sexuality and the experience of being a woman. Kathe Kollwitz is another favourite.