Basil Hall Editions
On my way from Canberra out to the coast, I stopped at Basil Hall Editions in Braidwood to meet Basil and talk to him about his work with remote indigenous artists and their communities. I arrived, was greeted by Pam, Basil’s wife, and was immediately invited to stay for lunch, which I accepted (good choice: they have the most amazing baker in the town making superb pies – Dojo) and then had a look around the studio with Basil.
Here’s the back of the studio, extended to the very edge of the property, with Basil standing in the lane next door:
Basil has only his etching facilities in Braidwood. All his screenprint, lithography and relief equipment and accessories will be moved to a studio behind his wife’s house in Canberra (see post here). He will work out of both premises, when he is not travelling up north, that is.
He has the one etching press with extension table:
and the usual equipment:
It is obvious that a master printmaker, working for himself, can organise any space to contain just the right equipment, to be exactly where he needs it when he needs it. It is quite different to all the open access studios I’d visited previously.
We then talked about his work with remote indigenous communities. He has brought an enormous array of indigenous art into printmaking. In fact, he was shortly off north just after I visited and the storm weather in Queensland was of concern. To meet me he took a break from editioning another indigenous artist’s work (see his post here) – below are shots of the two plates being used and his reference print:
He showed me a few of the prints drying in his racks:
Although he has run a lot of workshops in remote areas where plates and prints are produced on site, this technique intrigued me. He has the artist paint the separate colours onto transparent acetate sheets which he then takes into the studio, photographs and produces the etching plates. Back in the house after lunch he showed me some of these sheets:
The second one above is intriguing. Although a relatively simple print, the natural earth colours being used meant the yellow ochre colour was very grainy and Basil was thinking of ways to introduce a sense of this graininess. We talked for a good while about this balance between the artist’s intentions and the printmaker’s desire for an engaging print.
Basil then showed me a very small portion of the huge store of prints he has (all for sale and I’d recommend people visit his online store):
No reproduction could do justice to the dynamism and colour vivacity of these prints. But the last one above really blew me away. My eyes could not stop wandering over the image and the whole was lifted by the brilliance of the white: just looking at it was an electrifying experience.
Basil also runs courses (really wish we could get him to LPW to run a course on his technique of turning layers of acetate sheets into the brilliant prints the way he does ) all over Australia and the world. I’d certainly recommend anyone with the chance to meet and talk to Basil or to attend one of his courses to do so. For European readers of this post, he runs an annual workshop in Skopelos, Greece in the summer and I believe there are still a couple of places left on the 2015 course: see details here.
I want to thank Basil and Pam for inviting me into their studio and home and making me so welcome. I could have spent all day in their company but had to let them get back to their editioning.