More Artist Books – Winner of the Firestation Print Studio Biennial Artist Book Award – Craftsmanship

2024 JUDGES 

Anna Welch Principal Librarian, History of the Book and Arts at
State Library of Victoria
Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison​ Artistic Duo who have been collaborating for over 20 years making artists’books, zines, collages, stories,
prints, and drawings. 

In amazing news I won the craftsmanship category of the biennial Artist Book Award held by Firestation print Studio based in Melbourne. I wasn’t there, unfortunately…. but thankfully I have seen many photos of the event through instagram. The books look all so interesting and full of complexities! The photos above show the book that was particularly highlighted by the judges. I am Here, a flag book, edition of 2

These pages above belong to the other book, called ‘Taking a Walk’, a Japanese stab bound format of landscape impressions. Unique edition

My art statements:

  1. “I Am Here”: This artist book reflects on the invisibility that a person may feel when not heard or even seen in spite of being right there. The structure of the flag book provides an ideal form to express this concept by ‘breaking’ the image and potentially making it disappear, but allowing the retention of every detail to be noticed by any who truly pays attention.
  2. ‘Taking a Walk’ : This artist book explores my experience of the eucalyptus trees when bushwalking. Once I start paying attention I get lost in the infinite combinations of colours and shapes, mainly subtle but also contrasting, and somehow all in harmony. Looking at one tree leads to looking at the next one and then the next one, until the next walk. 

This is what the judges said about my work. I am of course incredibly honoured of this appreciation:

Winner: Laura Castell, I Am Here

A good place to hide can be within a book, within the pages, constructed from rows of flags adhered to opposing sides of the spine’s mountain, within the beguilement of the whoosh- whoosh movement that is the flag book. Laura Castell’s edition of two, I Am Here, has both the flutter-motion of the original flag book of Hedi Kyle, and an unruffled stillness, when viewed upon the gallery wall. I Am Here, in plain sight, and, as Laura comments, I am “not heard or even seen”. In the fragmented image, the broken image made whole through the process of reading, looking, feeling, and “noticing”, the human figure, centre stage, stares into the mid-distance, somewhere over my shoulder, and for a moment the reader might be being read, might be “unseen”, might be a flag book closed upon the shelf. The face in quiet contemplation, upon the page, that is, perhaps thinking of all the ways eucalypts vary inform, trunk, blossom, role, and scent (as explored in Laura’s second entry, Taking a Walk).
The very structure of this book invites delight and rewards attention, through both the concept of the image “breaking” and exquisite bookbinding technique. I Am Here proved a reverie of Craftsmanship and more.

Thank you!! ❤️

Good news for my Artist Book ‘We ALL’

This post is delayed so this happened earlier in 2023.

This artist book, ‘We ALL’ has been very fulfilling to work on. It presented challenges in several ways. How best to translate the concept into images, how to use text minimally and easily, what technique to use. I did not have a letterpress at the time so I used some old pages of letraset. The subject matter includes what I love most, figurative and social issues. It is difficult to tackle these subjects (as one) in a way that people find them accessible to spend enough time looking at them, so getting a prize was incredible. The book was part of the Northern Beaches Artist Book award, in 2023 and it was one of the books acquired for the Manly Library Collection.

Artist statement In this work I used the idea that we all have similar emotions to highlight the equality among all of us, independently of what race, religion or cultural inheritance we have. I created slightly ‘abstracted’ faces hoping that the viewer can go beyond the specifics of one person/face and see themselves in each of them.

Here is a link to the youtube video (below) where the judges go through the works that were acquired. I can’ express well how meaningful the words of the judges are to me, I feel they captured exactly what I had in mind while making the work.

It is an edition of 5, another one was also acquired by my then local gallery in Townsville, Perc Tucker Regional Gallery. Super grateful!

Some recent work at Sydney Contemporary 7-10 September 2023, at the Carriageworks

I live far from Sydney but thankfully I will have one work showing at the upcoming Sydney Contemporary Art event. This is a rare and valuable opportunity to have my work viewed by a much wider audience. The work will be part of the folios showing by Firestation Print Studio, based in Melbourne. From their website:

FPS is participating in this year’s prestigious Sydney Contemporary Art Fair for PAPER, a curated section of the fair dedicated to works on paper.
The Firestation Print Studio’s booth, B03 will present original artist’s prints by 47 artists for Sydney Contemporary’s, PAPER 

I will have one of my newest works on display, a triptych of bark inspired abstract monoprints.

Not this year but may be a trip down there for a next time?

Finalist at the Burnie Print Prize

A month ago I learned that my piece ‘Bark Landscape’ has been selected as a finalist for the Burnie Print Prize 2023. Really happy for many reasons, but one is that this is a well known prestigious art prize for printmakers so the exhibition is full of amazing works and very well known names in the world of printmaking. I feel very fortunate to have my work exhibited with the rest. And second, this will be the first time my abstract work will be seen by others.

While continuing with my more figurative and realistic (or identifiable.. should one say?) work, I have become very attracted to the challenge of expressing through more abstract work, taking the inspiration from the real world, but finding a way to take the parts that really talk to me. It is an incredible process, interesting, very challenging, addictive.

The work above is inspired by the patterns and colours of some Eucalyptus trees, the many that I encounter in my walks. There is an urgency to hold onto these pleasures that nature brings us, knowing that they can one day, sooner or later, go. The nice thing about these process is that it makes you look, not once but many times. I don’t think I have ever looked that long at the bark from these trees, spent so much time in that observation and in that feeling, trying to translate it into marks and colours.

This work is on paper, a monoprint, and my largest to date, 150 x 56 cm. It consists of 3 pieces that have been joined together.

Wishing good luck to all the finalists! The exhibition and announcement of winners will be at the Burnie Art gallery in Tasmania from July 21st to September 8th.

Taking up blogging again…and ‘Art in Conflict’ March 2023

I find myself frequently visiting blogs that I have read for years now and
although social media provides a nice level of contact with other people, how
much we can say is very limited. So I am wanting to write more frequent blogs,
as a way to share and in the hope that I will reach more people that want to go
a bit deeper into my work.

I am due to give a Pechakucha talk in a couple of days. It follows a very fast format, 20 images, 20 seconds for each image, so the talk lasts around 6 minutes (and a few hours to prepare…!). The topic is ‘Art in Conflict’ to expand on a current exhibition of the same name at our local gallery Perc Tucker Regional Gallery name. It is a travelling exhibition from the Australian War Museum in Canberra. It has been an interesting journey to go through the art I have made over the years.

As it can often be the case, I wasn’t sure what my message was when I started, but now I know. Art gives me a voice that I would not have otherwise to speak about some difficult subjects. I do not enjoy the process of making people aware of events while using words. I find the back and forth of argumentation exhausting even if interesting. So I do not engage in that way often. But art has given me a language to say strong things. I am very thankful for the opportunity.

My presentation can be seen here

News throughout 2020

2020 started like not that long ago and is almost over! I think that the presence in social media, something I find is a must for an emerging artist like myself, takes away the energy necessary to update blogs and websites. I still think a website is necessary, so I will continue, ever slowly, until something tells me it is not anymore.

I do not want to say much about the presence of COVID-19, it has been so present in all of our lives, except to say that I hope you are ok ?. It has been very sad to see the little support artists have received from the government during this time. Ironically, my impression is that many people have found important solace in art during this time and artists have been incredibly generous in sharing. So thank you!

A very quick summary of my most important artistic achivements this year:

  1. This was the first time I entered the Libris Book Award, a biennial artist book award held in Australia, at the Artspace gallery in Mackay. I was extremely happy to be selected as a finalist and although I did not win anything, my book was purchased by the gallery, so being in their amazing collection of artist books is a dream come true. My book was a small concertina book that in a way captures my art through this last decade. I used details of many of my figurative woodcuts, focusing on faces, and translated them into solar plates. Below each image there is a text that reflects the meaning of the image at the time I made it. The cover of the book is a small woodcut with a face and the book is called ‘Caras de Madera’ (faces in wood). The Spanish title seemed to suit the best because it brings my culture into the book

Needless to say the exhibition was fantastic. The variety of books and techniques incredibly inspiring.

2) Ignoring the fact that I have never been into painting I explored oil painting this year and have come to love it. I was asked to have a small exhibition at the Perc Tucker gallery, at the Vault Space, a small area used to showcase artists works for sale> This was somewhat unexpected and I wanted to continue my search with painting, so I showed a selection of small oil paintings as well as some drawings using mixed techniques. Over half of the works sold, mostly the oils so it was a great opportunity that pushed me to use different media.

Below is a selection of the works. I would loved to know where the sold works went, there are a few that I would have liked to have for a bit longer, just to see them 🙂 The one of the face at the bottom is probably my favourite.

3) I have come to understand that participating in awards is key to my own development. Not having the pressure of exhibitions or galleries that need my work, I find the goal imposed by entering awards pushes me to make works that are probably larger and more daring technically than what I often do as I simply ‘play’ in the studio.

I have been very lucky through the Townsville Art Awards, a yearly award of our city, held by the Townsville Art Society. This year I entered 3 pieces, two works on paper and one miniature and won the category for works on paper!

4) And to end this year, last week I received the wonderful news that one of my large woodcuts had been selected as a finalist for the Burnie Print Prize. This is the first time I entered this prize and I have now learned that being selected is the prize! everything else is a huge bonus. I am just so happy that my work is recognised as worthy of this competition. I am looking forward to hopefully visiting Tasmania next year, what a better excuse to go there? 🙂

There is much more but this post is long enough! For the time being, take lots of care, enjoy as much as possible every day, the simple things that we can so easily take for granted. Mil abrazos!

Good news at the Townsville Art Society Awards

I am really happy to say that I won the overall prize for the Townsville Art Society Awards this year, a second prize for the works on paper category and a highly commended also for that category. The winning piece is a largish woodcut (a mixture of multiple plates and reduction). Of course very happy with the news and extremely honoured. The judge was Ann Cape, an artist that I admire, so it was also a great bonus to talk to her and hear her comments about all the works.

One Fish for Dinner , Woodcut

A year in a (quick) review

I have been using Facebook and Instagram as a way to share my artistic experience. I do love sharing, often experiments, works in progress, little moments that result in a drawing. There is something about the reason for sharing that is hard to explain. I learn about what others like or perhaps don’t. I get to meet people, even if only in the virtual world, I get a lot of inspiration and I learn a lot at many other levels. It is very easy to post things in those platforms… not so much in the website!  As a quick example, somehow I just deleted a page that had half of my bowerbird exhibition artworks as I was trying to complete it! so I decided to write a blog post instead 🙂

This year has been interesting and although I feel a bit flat at the end of the year, I think it is a reflection of lots of excitement and feeling during the year. What were the highlights?

  1. I won the Anna Eglitis Prize for Emerging regional artist at the Inkmasters Print Exhibition held in July. I went to see the exhibition in Cairns and felt very honoured to be amongst so many beautiful works.  My artwork for this award was a large woodcut called ‘I would do anything for you’ . The prize consists of a residency at the Inkmasters Studio in Cairns, which I hope to do in the middle of next year

    Multiple woodcut 76x 56 cm
  2. I was a finalist at the Firestation Print Studio Monoprint prize, held in Melbourne in October. My entry was a relatively small ‘painterly’ work. It was very interesting to make this work, building the image with several passes on the press. Thinking back I am not 100% sure I could do it again!


    I entered a couple of other Australian awards but did not get selected as a finalist. This is ok, I have now learned that reaching the finalist stage is a big achievement and it is in a way motivation to keep improving and finding my voice.

  3. I participated in a great project, the Overwintering Project, coordinated by a well known printmaker Kate Gorringe-Smith, who has been amazing at driving this project to a huge success. The project consists of using art to highlight the vulnerability of migratory birds that depend on habitat conservation in many different places around the world. Artists contributed a print, which has been exhibited at many different locations. You can read all about it here including seeing all the artworks so far (including mine 🙂
  4. I have been experimenting with other techniques besides relief printing focusing mostly on drypoint. The advantage for me is that this medium allows me to draw more freely, something I truly enjoy. Here is the largest work I have completed using this technique. There is a lot more to explore 
  5. One of my prints is in a calendar for 2019!! This was an incredibly nice surprise. A few years ago I participated in a similar project where artists created a print of one of the bird species using the Bimblebox Nature Refuge. The area is  threatened by the proposal of opening several mega mines. The artistic part of the project has been coordinated by Jill Sampson, another amazing and inspiring person and an artist too. Their website has a lot of information about the refuge, updates, art, education and much more. Have a look here Bimblebox Art project
  6. There is much more but I think this post in long enough! so I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas holiday and also a wonderful New Year 2019! Muy Feliz Navidad!

Preparations for an upcoming exhibition

Some of you will know that I have been preparing for a while for a solo exhibition in the access space at Umbrella Studio gallery, next April. This will be my third solo exhibition, although the second one in 2014 was a relatively impromptu exhibition of small works, quite a few already made beforehand . For this one I have had time to think, probably too much 🙂 . The theme is our local bower bird, the Great Bower Bird.  I (and more so my husband…) have spent many hours observing and photographing this bird, especially the males and their bowers, and occasionally the females as they approach the bower. I can honestly say that if I liked this bird before, now I love it! Their behaviour is incredibly interesting, long hours of effort invested to mate.

I have learned a lot, still many things to do to complete everything I need to do, and waiting after to show the complete images, but here is a little pick at process, a photo of the beautiful male displying its pink crown, and a previous image of a small etching I did some time ago.  Hope you like it 🙂

small etching

New work

It has been a long time…. I am finding that it is so much faster to post a photo of work in progress using facebook, and more recently instagram, that I tend to go that way rather than spend the time writing a post for the blog….. uhmmm I think that one of the benefits of blogging is that it makes me think about how to put in words things that are floating in my mind…. and that’s a good thing (to some degree)

I now find myself working full time, almost busier than when I held a paid job. I can’t complain, the more I make, the more I like it, which is a wonderful feeling, in spite of the failures that come along.

I am preparing work for a small solo exhibition on our local bowerbird, but in between moments when I need a break from ‘another bowerbird’ I am exploring other styles and techniques. More recently I have explored more the reduction print and the theme of refugees, making figurative work.

Reduction Woodcut
Reduction Woodcut . This is my entry for the print Council Print Exchange!



The last print is quite a departure for me, but somehow I feel is still strong, so I think I will explore this a bit more!

Time to get back 🙂