Australian Print Workshop (APW) is the leading not-for-profit centre for fine art printmaking in Australia.
From its establishment in 1981, APW has worked with important contemporary Australian artists who collaborate with highly skilled APW printers to produce new works in the print medium.
French Connections is part two of a highly ambitious international project - Antipodes - instigated and led by Anne Virgo OAM, Director of Australian Print Workshop. The project's aim is to generate a significant new body of artwork in the fine art print medium, inspired by important collections of cultural and other material relating to early exploration of Australia and the Pacific. By providing privileged access to archives and historical collections in the UK and France, Antipodes creates opportunities to reflect on the interplay of natural history, the history of science, empire, art and anthropology.
The first part of this major project was undertaken in 2015-2016 with the collaboration of three leading contemporary Australian Artists (Brook Andrew, Tom Nicholson and Caroline Rothwell) and a number of significant cultural institutions in the United Kingdom. Each Antipodes UK artist created a significant suite of new work in the print medium which was launched in a season of solo exhibitions at APW Gallery in mid-2016.
French Connections commenced in May 2018 with a two-week study tour to Paris. NGA Curator Elspeth Pitt joined Anne Virgo and the four artists - Martin Bell, Megan Cope, Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison - for part of the trip, visiting collections and meeting artists and curators. The historical practice of recording journeys of exploration and discovery in print form provided opportunities to reflect on the representation of the 'other' - landscapes, cultures, and fauna and flora in these historical records.
Following their return to Australia, each artist spent an intense period with APW Printers to create a suite of new work in the print medium. This work reflected imagery and ideas developed in response to the Paris trip.
A series of exhibitions at APW Gallery were held in 2019 to launch this work.
Antipodes and French Connections was made possible through the generous support of APW's long-standing philanthropic partner The Collie Print Trust.
Australian Print Workshop is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.