The Friends recently had a rare treat at Solander Gallery when printmakers Rodney Fumpston and Alexis Neal talked about their latest work and introduced the intricate techniques involved.

Rodney’s exhibition, ‘Rodney Fumpston: New Works’ is based on sea forms collected on recent trips to Fiji, the country of his birth. He uses laser engravings and the old printmaking process of mezzotint, a process of the intaglio family, where subtle gradations of light and shade form the image. He explained how this process works and how it differs from the lithographic techniques used by Alexis. Both methods work from ink below the plate, are versatile, and require considerable skill.

The prints in ‘Alexis Neal: New Works‘ were inspired by her artist residency at Tyree Cottage in Whanganui and the profound influence of a Maori ‘wahine toa’ (warrior woman) and her collection of taonga. This experience informed her printmaking and also extended her work into weaving raranga whakairo (plaited pattern weaves) some of which were also on display. Her demonstration of printmaking shown in the photo above was enthralling and illuminating.

While the association between these two artists began as teacher and pupil they are now colleagues and friends. This joint exhibition demonstrated that although their work is very different both are enthusiastically committed to the painstaking processes involved, and they share the hope that other artists will also continue to share their passion for printmaking.

Feature image: (left to right) Alexis Neal and Rodney Fumpston demonstrate their printmaking techniques.