The Blackstack Studio is a fine art print studio based in Kilkenny City. The studio provides screenprint and intaglio facilities for artists based in the southeast. Part of the studio’s philosophy is to extend the activities of the studio into the wider community. This is done partly though exhibiting, but also through education programmes and workshops. The studio was approached last year, by The Source Arts Centre about the possibility of exhibiting members work, and developing a series of workshops that run adjacent to work in the show. The Source Arts Centre is a multipurpose venue that provides an extensive visual arts programme to the community of Thurles and beyond. This is primarily achieved through community engagement and educational outreach. The focus of Blackstack Studio’s community engagement is to demonstrate the possibilities of printmaking through educational approaches, while showing a diverse selection of work in the gallery.
Exhibiting artists are John Busher, Maeve Coulter, Sylvia Hemmingway, Andrew Kelly, Ale Mercado, Stephen Morton, Aiseling Noone, Jacqueline O’Neill, Helen Robbins and Dawn West. The exhibition was curated by Kilkenny Arts Officer Mary Butler and Blackstack Studio member Stephen Morton. Works range from monoprints, digital printing and photography, intaglio, aquatint, etching, screen printing and painting. John Busher’s works are vague renderings of figures in particular environments. Dense blacks are blocked in using an aquatint process. Maeve Coulter’s etchings are evocative and poetic depictions of abandoned garments. Forensic like, they float on an inky backdrop, empty folds of fabric lay abandoned. Sylvia Hemmingway’s ghostly prints emerge from a thick fog, a network of trees are layered on icy distant skies. Dolls heads are cropped beneath decoration and ornamentation, hinting at memory and past.
Andrew Kelly’s works are playful experiments of layering screenprint in three-dimensional form. Bright neon colour expressed in silhouette shapes of people engaged in recreational activities. Ale Mercado’s atmospheric digital offerings are often of carefully cropped profiles. The settings are difficult to pin down, they appear to float, leading to a range of possible narratives. Stephen Morton’s large-scale paintings are depictions of excess. Hieronymus Bosch comes to mind, instead, his detailed works convey figures engaged in hedonistic pleasure, such as gorging on food and sex, set in contemporary settings such as fastfood restaurants.
Aiseling Noone explores the thread between fine art and craft. Pattern making, sewing, and construction provide a basis for her work. The thin veil of a pattern pinned to the surface of the wall, with overprints using a variety of print techniques. Equine forms are often the focus of Jacqueline O’Neill’s practice.
The tactile surface of the mane or coat is cropped and printed in silky applications of monoprint ink. Helen Robbins touches on a particular aspect of myth and folklore. Her faint digital images are soft stills of dresses submerged in river depths. Shafts of light filter through the water. Dawn West makes puzzling abstract monoprints, possible references to the spiritual are made through a maze of cropped out spikey shapes. A surprising contrast is a group of rich and varied prints that are beautifully layered with deep blues and shimmering golds. The exhibition is an opportunity to see the diverse and varied approaches to printmaking by members of Kilkenny’s Blackstack Studio.
Four of the artists will deliver workshops over the duration of the exhibition. Dawn West will deliver a two day monoprint workshop for young people and adults. Stephen Morton will deliver two workshops on Zine’s and self publication, suitable for adults and 16 years upwards. Aiseling Noone will facilitate a two-day screen printing course. Suitable for adults and 13 years upwards. John Busher will deliver a one day workshop on relief printmaking, for ages 8 - 12 yrs. Places are limited, so pre-booking is essential. Phone 0504 90204. More information can be found on The Source Arts Centre website: http://www.thesourceartscentre.ie. The Source Gallery is open Tuesday to Friday 10am to 5pm, 2 to 5pm on Saturday. From 7pm when there is an evening performance.
The exhibition runs until April 30th.