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Artist Profiles » Annie Smits Sandano, Philippa Bentley and Susan Haywood-Smith

Annie Smits Sandano, Philippa Bentley and Susan Haywood-SmithAnnie Smits Sandano, Philippa Bentley and Susan Haywood-Smith use Wood Cut, Screen Printing and Etching techniques to create a vibrant and fresh approach to New Zealand iconography.

Philippa Bentley prints icons of Kiwiana onto ‘upcycled’ weatherboards. Philippa employ’s traditional photographic silkscreen techniques. Each insect is individually screen-printed on to house weatherboard or paper, and then hand painted, labelled and framed as if archived in a museum boxed collection. The use of weatherboard started as a play on the old Kiwi 1950’s trend of a butterfly on a weatherboard house idea and is now an integral part of the work.

“I like the idea of taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value”. The organic nature of weatherboard presents its challenges when screen-printing by hand. “It’s the unpredictable nature of the process that I like, the fact that each print takes on its own life and is quite distinctive from the next.”

For the insect collection series a major source of inspiration has been the Auckland War Memorial Museum and the natural history and entomology departments there. “I think the collections are so, so beautiful and can spend ages looking over them. They are about the natural specimen and the human input of the collector - some from over a century ago and the social context of that time. I also consider the tension between containment and preservation, freedom and security; collective and personal memory.”

“I am producing the artworks as limited edition series for each insect. However, there is a lot of work that goes into each individual insect and the work as a whole. Also, each insect collection is printed on a different set of boards and so no two will be the same. They have got to be as close to a unique, one-off artwork as a print can be!”

Susan Haywood-Smith's multi-media prints are inspired by Maoridom, Polynesian culture and her Celtic Heritage. The designs of Tivaevae, Kete and Tapa cloth have had an influence on Susan’s practice. “In general my work has been very graphic, yet subtle and implied in its depth. With this body of work I have sought to expand upon the subtle themes through the greater use of embossing, delicate papers and strong simple colours.”

New technology in etching materials has enabled Susan to create etchings using the environmentally safe Photoplymer technique. “I‘m committed to only utilising safer printmaking techniques and practices. This is in consideration of the environment and of my health. Traditional printmaking processes such as etching can be a toxic process involving the usage of hazardous chemicals.”

The artwork is transferred onto a transparency which is then overlaid onto a photopolymer plate and exposed to ultraviolet light. On the plate surface is a polymer which is light sensitive and water-soluble. The area of polymer exposed to the ultraviolet light hardens, whereas the polymer blocked by the artwork remains water-soluble. This area is then dissolved in water leaving the image from the transparency etched into the photopolymer plate. The etched area on the plate captures the ink and the image is printed using a printmaking press.

Annie Smits Sandano has gained a strong following since her graduation from Elam with her fresh, simple and uncomplicated wood cut prints. These images are composed from individually hand carved wooden blocks. French and German inks are custom mixed and then carefully applied to the surface of the carved blocks using specialist rubber ink rollers.

The inked up blocks are then arranged on the paper surface and put through a high-pressure press, creating an impression on the paper surface. Each layer of color is left to dry before the next layer is applied, and the paper is put through the press several times until the composition is gradually built up to it’s finished state.

“I wanted to produce a suite of prints that related the technical base I developed with my contemporary context in New Zealand. With a clean aesthetic in mind, I thoroughly researched Kiwiana iconography and my possibilities for referencing. Although I have lived in New Zealand for about half my life, I was not born here. I did not want to reference aspects of the culture around me inappropriately.”

Annie’s work convey’s a sense of fun and movement. “I wanted to produce images that were contemporary and innovative, and that made a mark as being from my generation of practicing printmakers in New Zealand. I also wanted to establish and develop the wood cut process as a contemporary medium. “

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