The copper road to Fitzroy.

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The copper road to Fitzroy.


Tomescu, Aida.


Australian Print Symposium. Canberra: National Gallery of Australia, 1987 - ongoing.



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The copper road to Fitzroy.
by Aida Tomescu

It was Brancusi who said that it isn’t difficult to do things, what is difficult is to put yourself in the condition to do them; to put yourself in that state. Anyone involved in a creative process will find this to be true. With printmaking l find that you are placed in that state more readily, this condition is forced on you by the circumstances of working with somebody else at your elbow. I am only referring to situations where you work with a printer by your side.

The set of external circumstances that brought me to printmaking began in 1986 when l spent three weeks in Melbourne working with John Loane at the Victorian Print Workshop.

Once l experienced drawing on plates, from that precise moment printmaking never felt like an addition to my work, it was never a fragment. It was my work.

It became straight away a medium which allowed my work to move on and continue. Quite simply printmaking generates imagery for me. I t is this continuous process of drawing that printmaking sets in motion which interests me. Each image is not so much a drawing or a print but more a step towards another image. Above all printmaking sets conditions for rapid changes that suit my work. Printmaking can inform my painting in this often delayed way, l find that the drawing in my prints may emerge buried in the under layers of my paintings.

But in a very direct and immediate way printmaking leads to drawings, as l tend to work on etching proofs in order to maintain my working rhythm, while waiting for plates to be processed.

The technical aspects of printmaking are so intimately linked to the understanding of the image that this work is only possible if the printer has the same concern: a concern for for the potential of the image. I respond to the straightforwardness of drawing the plates; the drawing left bare, in a state that is approachable, vulnerable, often made elusive by the process. I tend to work on a number of plates nailed directly to the wall. This suits my need to reconsider. Working a sequence of plates allows for fluidity as on thing changes into another. Each plate acts as a promise for future work.
At times a surprising stillness crops up in an etching, a calm unifying presence, brought about by the acid tray process.

It is a process full of contradictions. I am aware that l do contradictory things all the time, like controlling and losing an image, concentrating on the mark l am making that moment, as well as being aware of the overall image or series.
As l begin to feel my way into the work there is also this mounting tension between what l feel, know, or hope is there – and what l struggle to see on the plate.
It always feels like quite a test to produce something that l am not aware of seeing but that l can sense.

I first began drawing on etching proofs during my three weeks at the Victorian Print Workshop. I used whatever was handy; pastels, charcoal, litho crayons. It was a way of finding out where the image could go. I began using white pastel on aquatints simply as a way of seeing what l was doing. This contrast made me do contradictory things – use contrasting imagery as a response to the ground l was using.

I couldn’t assert a definitive origin to my work though l know some were triggered by something very specific – a verse from an Octavio Paz poem or, more recently, by Paul Celan. It is more like a build up of images from which an independent image arises.
I generally work towards unfixing an image. I tend to begin with a sum of approximations and work towards a place where things no longer feel arbitrary. All plates are in a condition of open possibility.

One of my main interests in doing prints is breaking with a line through the hardground of a plate. I like the resistance the hardground offers my drawing. It is this resistance that interrupts the facility of my line and allows an opening into the work.

If l was to place printmaking anywhere it would be at the intersection between control and abandon; between detachment and involvement with an image.

© Aida Tomescu.
Paper presented at the Fifth Australian Print Symposium,
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2004