Updated: Nov 17, 2021
Compared to the laborious process of etching zinc, cutting lino seemed very straightforward.
My tutor at the Sydney Gallery School in 2005 was renowned linocut printmaker, Rew Hanks. With Rew walking me through how to etch lino, it wasn't too long before three different coloured versions of Square Dance (32cm x 32cm) were coming off the press. Although very different from anything I’d ever done before, one is still hanging in our front room as a personal favourite.
I was thrilled that Rew joined in on an exchange project during the course. I had the witty work he contributed framed and on display in our hallway so fast he didn't even have a chance to sign it!
My tutor at Hornsby TAFE was Gary Shinfield. Gary guided me through the process of making my first reduction linocut, Wheel of Fortune. The image incorporates the arched and agonising figure of Rodin's sculpture, The Prodigal Son. Seeing this sculpture some months before in the Legion of Honor Collection in San Francisco, I had found it spoke to me very powerfully - probably because my own story resonates so much with the story behind it.
Rodin takes us back to Jesus' story of the youngest of two brothers who claims his inheritance and squanders it in a foreign land. In the same way Jesus painted a word picture of someone who ends up reaching rock bottom in every way, Auguste Rodin sculpted it in three dimensions. The man is naked, tormented and in desperate need. Having no other options, he decides to return to his father and throw himself at his mercy. Instead of this "good-for-nothing" son getting what he deserves, the story goes that, while he is still a long way off, the father sees him, runs to meet him, throws his arms around him and kisses him. The son can only kneel as a sign of surrender; he has learned his lesson the hard way and yearns for a new beginning. And then what does the father do? He throws a huge party to celebrate!
In July 1980 I quit my job and flew to Australia with a view to living it up for six months. After 'doing my own thing' for several weeks (including sunbathing on the Whitsunday Islands and snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef) I hit a bottom that had me asking if there was not more to life than just the pursuit of pleasure. Like the biblical Prodigal Son, I came to realise that I was spiritually bankrupt and homeless and decided to go home - not to Ireland - but to my Creator God. And, for me, that was the start of a wonderful new beginning.
17 years after pulling my first few linocuts, I was very keen to give it another go. Fishing was my quick attempt to emulate a work by Jocelyn Maughan, a Sydney-born artist whose monotypes and linocuts I greatly admire. I enjoyed the process but obviously have a great deal to learn. My tools could probably do with a good sharpening too!
...we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. (Luke 15:32)