While Pormpuraaw Art and Culture is well known for its ghost net sculptures and paintings, printing has also been an important mainstay for the Art Centre. Pormpuraaw have more than 400 plates and printed artworks have become popular with their online store.
The Pormpuraaw artists first began workshops in lino cut printing in 2008, following with annual workshops by Theo Tremblay from 2009 onwards. The artists began by making lino cuts however it became apparent that etching was a more suitable medium as it matched the more ‘painterly’ style of the artists.
Theo has developed a strong relationship of trust and development with the Pormpuraaw artists, and he reflects, “For a third of my 40 years of teaching printmaking, I have shared the skills of relief printing, mono-printing, etching and screen-printing with Pormpuraaw artists. Since 2008, under the original guidance of visionary Irma Ashwin, I’ve witnessed the small one-room center expand four times under the perseverance of Paul Jakobowski, which now boasts a multitude of activities including painting, printmaking, mural design, wood fabrication and ghost-net sculpture. The designated press-room with two 30” MES presses is testament to the center’s commitment to a future of making and marketing of prints whether it be for textile or fine art prints, both of which have entered the national and international forum and featured at many Indigenous arts festivals.”
Stories and inspiration for the prints come from unexpected sources. For example, on 25 September 2020 a large Brydes whale washed up onto a local beach stranded and suffering but alive. The Pormpuraaw community rallied and did what it could to give comfort. They splashed buckets of water on its skin, covered him with wet blankets, rigged pumps to spray water on him and erected a couple of market tents providing shade. It was an opportunity for the community to practice compassion. The whale was in a very bad way and death released him from suffering. The experience was quite profound for the community and the event became the inspiration for an etching made by Eric Norman. Pormpuraaw Art and Culture Centre now has an online shop. Go to pormpuraawartculture.com to buy ethically.
Main image credit: Eric Norman, Brydes Whale, etching. Image: Pormpuraaw Art and Culture Centre