Rural Pieces – Jenny Peterson

May18 – June 21

Works on paper using ‘found metal’ printing, etching and maps.

These works are a selection from Park Road Studios, Boolarra, that have the common theme of rural identity and contain social comment about people consuming the landscape.

The earlier works are prints and collages that include colourful landscapes and invented armour shapes that suggest the rolling hills and a figurative identity. The viewer may decide whether the figure is farmer, bushranger, feminised form. More recent works use found objects associated with cooking and preparing food. All the works rely on ‘found metal’ as a process or by association.

I work with second hand found metal objects such as baking tins, pieces of roofing iron, galvanised tin and serving trays. Almost any thin metal with an embossed or textured surface can be flattened and used for printing. Some of these I simply ink up with etching ink and put them through my printing press – relying on the rust, scratches and dents from previous usage to create the image on the paper. Other plates I enhance or manipulate and add traditional etching techniques. Published maps are used to indicate the location where the metal was collected from, or as a reference point.

In 2006 I received Arts Victoria funding to further research and develop ‘found metal’ printing. By choosing heritage sites of Portland and Beechworth regions I found plenty of inspiration in museums, libraries and antique shops. In Portland I found a local history book with a quote from 1840’s settler John Robinson:

“As we all had arrived from Van Dieman’s Land direct, we knew nothing about the squatting regulations and by the end of April we were all quarrelling about our boundaries”

The connection between ideas of consumption, food and land ownership was brought to sharp focus with a colonial statement like this! I reproduced the words on etching plate in a writing style of the period and the scratched up rectangle represents both a grided map and baking vessel in We All Had Arrived.

The acquisition of a hand written recipe book that belonged to my grandmother, dating from the 1930s, was an unexpected addition to the source material around the same time. Some of her recipes mention the type of tin to use – that I have collected myself – such as nut loaf tin, and sandwich tin for baking a sponge. Stamping words such as ‘carve up’ into some prints reinforces a social comment about the way we continue to treat real estate as another commodity to be consumed.

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