Le Chéile Information

Branwen Davies

I was born in St David's Wales, the third and last child for my Welsh speaking father and Wales loving, English/Irish mother. As kids we could all recite poems in Welsh though it was the days of suppressing the language as far as schooling went. Not a concern for me as we arrived in Australia to live when I was four. Thus Wales has been a very particular place in my mind: king tides at Christmas flooding roads; the car breaking down in the snow on Christmas eve on the way home from visiting Mamgu (pronounced mamgi/grandmother); vague memories of an extended family who in Australia became people I always knew about from letters...forty years of letters about mamgu, my aunties, uncles, cousins and my parents’ friends. There have been occasional visits back and forth. I am happy to have grown up in Australia for the sun, the land, big sky and relaxed attitudes. And the life I may have in Wales is one I can barely imagine, beyond the rain!

I studied printmaking at East Sydney Technical College and the University of South Australia's school of art but haven't been able to pay it sufficient attention. I find the nature of the artform continues to perplex the way my mind works. Printmaking means thinking in reverse (the image on the plate is the reverse of the print) and pulling the proposed image apart to lay down each colour separately.

My work in this exhibition is monoprints. They are prints in that they go through a press and produce an image from a plate. For me they are like drawing and painting because I can make all the marks more directly-with a brush, a stylus or a rag, using fluid oil paint rather than stiff printing ink. In practice, monoprints can have many colours laid over each other, going through the press with each new colour layer. I prefer painting the complete image. Once printed, I rework the plate to make a slightly different image. And so I build a series of related prints.

Veronica Calarco, Helen Kavanagh and I have collaborated for this project. We began by writing ten words each that conjured the notion of diaspora; we swapped these about and drew a few images each that the words inspired; we swapped the drawings and made prints based our reinterpretation of the others’ drawings. We made more drawings, swapped, printed, drew again and on it went. We didn’t know each other very well to begin with, but by printing together we quickly learnt a lot about all our idiosyncrasies! I felt it was a strong equal partnership. I had most to learn about printmaking and felt fortunate to have two different working styles to draw on. Our styles are distinctive. I was fascinated to see the ambiguous figures I use appear in scenes of the others’ making. In some of the monoprints I’ve reclaimed them.