Saturday, August 27, 2011

It’s Been an Exciting Year
Annual Review

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Its Been An Exciting Year
I started this blog spot one year ago (26th of August 2010) since I wanted to give a written expression to my art practice and moreover, I wanted to articulate what interested me in art. On the side bar you will find the aim of this blog spot namely:
“This blog will be dedicated to arousing world wide interest in: (a) using the medium of cloth to create a work of art; (b) promoting prints on paper; (c) exploring concepts that are the basis of my current artworks; (d) offering opinions on art issues.”

Celebration Fireworks 2 by Marie-Therese Wisniowski (My birthday ArtCloth - created on August 26th).
Technique: Multisperse Dye Sublimation technique using multiple batik resist layers - digitized.
Media: Disperse dyes on satin.

At the outset my commitment was simple: I would blog approximately 50 posts a year, including a summary of each year. For your convenience I have listed these summaries below:
Another Year - Another Cheer (2011/2012)
Where Did The Year Go (2012/2013)
The Year Of The Horse 92013/2014)
Cold and Windy - But on the Dawn of Renewal (2014/2015)
A Time To Reflect - A Time To Select (2015/2016)

Of course there are millions of people blogging and Google captures a significant amount of content (part of its business model) by making it free. I have enjoyed blogging. However, sometimes things do go awry. For example, using our back links option, bots dumped links to product lines, commercial sites etc. Hence I had to remove the back links option to my posts, since it would have implied that I condone these links. Sometimes I have also erred and so on one occasion I was more than happy to acknowledge my error and to attribute a work.

DuChamp's Mona Lisa (L.H.O.O.Q.).

Why should I dare to think that others would even care to read any of my posts? This question never really occurred to me since I was doing it for other reasons – it was part of my art therapy. Blogging makes me consciously aware of my brush strokes and it assisted me in understanding why I am doing art in a particular manner (i.e. choice of medium, technique, and content). It is for me what a diary might be for a writer, albeit others get a glimpse of my inner-most art musings. I also needed to create an “internet” space for an exhibition – ArtCloth: Engaging New Visions – which I was the curator. Hence, on further rationalization and introspection criteria (a)-(d) were hatched in August of 2010. I am so grateful that my blog spot has resonated with some and so it has attracted regular viewers. Thanks!

Marie-Therese opening the ArtCloth: Engaging New Visions Exhibition at the Redcliffe City Art Gallery.
Photograph courtesy of Karen Tyler, Redcliffe City Art Gallery.
Photographed by Al Sim.

The blog spot has enabled me to be proactive in the support of great ArtCloth and art movements. To that end a number of posts have centred on Aboriginal ArtCloth and Australian Street Art - Post Graffiti ArtCloth. Both of these areas will be revisited in future posts.

Angkuna Kulyuru, Raiki Wara. Batik On Silk (Ernabella).

I was also able to take a breather on my ArtCloth work and take a sojourn with respect to my prints on paper. In some of my digital prints on paper I have digitally photographed my ArtCloth works and played them into the background of my digital prints on paper work.

Made To Order III by Marie-Therese Wisniowski. One in a series of four silk Screened prints on paper.

With the stats that Blogger provides (as well as Google Analytics) you can quickly become besotted with who is reading what, for how long, where in the world they are reading it, at what time and how often do they return etc. I keep most of the stats at arms length, since my site was not intended to be (nor ever will it be) a marketing tool. Sure it helps on that score – I would be in a state of denial not to acknowledge it. But that was never its intended purpose.

This is an informing post rather than a "how to do". The article, “Melding Landscapes”, has been published in the June 2011, No. 5 Issue of Down Under Textiles. It discusses my background, my textile art practice and philosophical approaches, plus the history of and technical information about my signature MultiSperse Dye Sublimation (MSDS) technique employing disperse dyes. The follow-on pages include images and artist statements for each of the ArtCloth works included.

Sometimes you get shocked at the stats outcomes. If any of you have studied your own blog stats you will not be surprised to read that what I thought was a great post (Margo Lewers) may never make it in the top ten and what I thought nobody would view (Time Dimension in Art) is the sixth most viewed post on my blog site.

Margo Lewers.

My most viewed post, by a country mile, is my student’s output from the In Pursuit Of ArtCloth: Improvisational Screen-Printing Workshop. The second most viewed is another workshop, Disperse Dye And Transfer Printing. I am deeply grateful that all my students allowed their work to be displayed on my blog spot. Moreover, I take pride in the fact that the international and Australian viewers sought my student’s output with keen relish. The blogosphere is a most democratic space!

Maz Beeston (a) – Multi color interfacing silk-screen print and mono print.

My blog spot contains a total of 51 posts thus far, 21 of which belong to the exhibition – ArtCloth: Engaging New Visions. Of these, Norma Starszakowna’s Razing/Raising Walls, Warsaw is the most viewed. You can look at her work again and again and just see in it something new that contributes to its concept. It is stunning piece of artwork. The rest of the ArtCloth contributions in that exhibition were also stunning. I have received a host of emails informing me that such-and-such was their favorite ArtCloth work in the exhibition. It does not surprise me that all of the artists in the exhibition had their followers. The exhibition itself had impact in Australia and what pleased me most, were the primary and secondary High School student's comments and essays of the work that was exhibited.

Norma Starszakowna, Razing/Raising Walls, Warsaw.

Of my own work, the most popular was – Flames Unfurling…Life Returning. Some how this post resonated with a lot of viewers. Perhaps it was due to coincidence; for example, it was “on air” when there was one world wide natural disaster after another and so perhaps viewers were searching for images to vent their fears, anxieties, and emotions.

Marie-Therese Wisniowski, Flames Unfurling (detailed view).

Obviously my blog spot is fairly eclectic (within the boundaries that I set) and so this is reflected in the top ten posts: two are workshops; two are contributions from my ArtCloth exhibition; two are art essays; two are from my MultiSperse Dye Sublimation artworks; two involve conferences/exhibitions. You cannot get a more even distribution across all of the art topics that were covered!

Confluence, 
2011 International Surface Design Association (SDA) Conference.

All in all, it has been a very exciting year! Thanks for your support. A little bit of art therapy has gone a long way!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

In Pursuit of Complex Cloth:
Complex Cloth Intensive Workshop
at Orange Textile Fiber Forum

Tutor: Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Preamble
This blogspot exhibits many of my students outputs from a variety of workshops. There are one, two and five day workshops as well as workshops that have a different focus. Nevertheless, it always surprises me how much I learn from my students and how enthusiastic they are to learn and so for your convenience, I have listed the workshop posts below.

The University of Newcastle Multi-Media Course
The University of Newcastle (Newcastle and Ourimbah Campuses, NSW, Australia) 2008 to 2010.

One and Two Day Disperse Dye Workshops
Various Textile Groups (Australia) 2008 - 2011.

Five Day Workshop - In Pursuit of Complex Cloth
“Wrapt in Rocky” Textile Fibre Forum Conference (Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia) 29th June to 5th July 2008.

Five Day Workshop – In Pursuit of Complex Cloth
Geelong Fiber Forum (Geelong, Victoria, Australia) 27th September to 3rd October 2009.

Two Day Workshop - Deconstructed and Polychromatic Screen Printing
Beautiful Silks (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) 20th to 21st March 2010.

Five Day Workshop – Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
“Wrapt in Rocky” Biennial Textile Forum/Conference Program (Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia) 25th June to 1st July 2010.

Two Day Workshop – Improvisational Screen Printing
ATASDA (Sydney, NSW, Australia) 28th to 29th August 2010.

Two Day Workshop – In Pursuit of Complex Cloth (Day One)
”Stitching and Beyond” Textile Group (Woodbridge, Tasmania, Australia) 2nd to 3rd October 2010.

Two Day Workshop – In Pursuit of Complex Cloth (Day Two)
”Stitching and Beyond” Textile Group (Woodbridge, Tasmania, Australia) 2nd to 3rd October 2010.

Advance Silk Screen Printing
Redcliffe City Art Gallery Redcliffe, Queensland, Australia) 10th April 2011.

One Day Workshop - In Pursuit of Complex Cloth
The Victorian Feltmakers Inc. (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) 14th May 2011.

One Day Workshop - In Pursuit of Complex Cloth (Felted and Silk Fibers)
Victorian Feltmakers Inc (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) 15th May 2011.

Five Day Workshop – Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
SDA (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA) 13th to 17th June 2011.

Five Day Disperse Dye Master Class – Barbara Scott
Art Quill Studio (Arcadia Vale, NSW, Australia) 15th to 19th August 2011.

Five Day Workshop – Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
Fiber Arts Australia (Sydney, NSW, Australia) 26th September to 1st October 2011.

One Day Workshop – Improvisational Screen Printing
Newcastle Printmakers Workshop Inc. (Newcastle, NSW, Australia) 5th November 2011.

One Day Workshops – Low Relief Screen Printing
Various classes within Australia.

Two Day Workshop – Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
ATASDA (Sydney, NSW, Australia) 23rd to 24th June 2012.

MSDS Demonstration at Zijdelings
(Tilburg, The Netherlands) October, 2012.

Five Day Workshop - Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
Fibre Arts@Ballarat (Ballarat, Victoria, Australia) 6th to 12th April 2013.

Two Day Workshop - Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
EFTAG (Tuross Head, NSW, Australia) 13th to 14th April 2013.

Two Day Workshop - Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
Zijdelings Studio (Tilburg, The Netherlands) 9th to 10th October 2014.

PCA - Celebrating 50 Years in 2016
Art Quill Studio 2016 Workshop Program.

Image Dreamings: Basic Silk Screen Printing Workshop - Part I
2016 Art Quill Studio Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

Image Dreamings: Basic Silk Screen Printing Workshop - Part II
2016 Art Quill Studio Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

In Pursuit of: Improvisational Screen Printing Workshop
2016 Art Quill Studio Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

In Pursuit of: Low Relief Screen Printing (LRSP) Workshop
2016 Art Quill Studio Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

Art Quill Studio 2017 Workshop Program
2017 Art Quill Studio Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).


Complex Cloth Dyeing Information
The first step in creating richly layered “complex cloth” involves dyeing the cloth. In 1856 William Henry Perkin synthesized the first synthetic organic dye named mauveine. Many thousands of synthetic dyes have since been prepared. Synthetic dyes quickly replaced the traditional natural dyes. They cost less, they offered a vast range of new colors, and they imparted better properties upon the dyed materials. Dyes are now classified according to how they are used in the dyeing process.

To create the complex cloth multi-hued backgrounds I use Procion MX fiber reactive dyes. Procion MX dyes are extremely versatile and can be used for immersion dyeing, low water immersion dyeing, hand painting and surface applications. In the creation of complex cloth, specific background patterning techniques are employed using folding, tying or binding techniques, which act as a resist. The basic concept is to protect areas of the fabric from dyes. The fabric can then be over-dyed in a second, third or fourth dye bath using the resist method employing additional colors to create a rich, textured and complex surface for the next stage of the process, which includes discharging and printing.

Disclaimer: Marie-Therese Wisniowski, Art Quill Studio, and Art Quill & Co have no financial interest in any  products mentioned in this blog.


Procion MX Dye Attributes
Procion MX are “cold water” dyes, which means that the temperature needed for dyeing is low, from 29 degrees to 41 degrees centigrade (hot to very hot tap water).

There are a wide choice of colors available in Procion dyes. The colors are intermixable and can be mixed according to color theory to produce a wide variety of pure hues and shades.


Fabric Selections for Procion MX Dyes
Procion MX dyes can be used to dye cotton, viscose rayon, linen, hemp and other cellulose fibers. They will also work on silk, a protein fiber, because of its molecular structure. There are many weights and weaves of fabric to choose from, such as muslin, georgette, organza, broadcloth, twill, velvet and sateen.

Five-day Workshop Synopsis
In Pursuit of Complex Cloth: Complex Cloth Intensive

This workshop was organized by 'The Australian Forum for Textile Arts’, 2009 Orange Textile Fiber Forum Conference, Orange, New South Wales. The workshop was held in the Anderson Building at the Wolaroi/Kinross Campus from the 19th - 25th April 2009.

Anna Cahill, Barbara Jackson, Dimity Kidston, Helen Harwood, Gai McMurtrie, Kay Faulkner, Libby Hobbs, Pamela Bates, Maureen Mutton, Karen Clarke, Phyllis Sullivan, Rachel Bickovsky and Sadhana Peterson attended the workshop. The workshop participants created unique and personal one-of-a-kind ArtCloth fabrics of great depth and complexity.

The five-day workshop was dedicated to exploring and mastering complex relationships on the cloth surface using “complex cloth” dyeing and printing layering techniques. Using a variety of printing tools, processes and color combinations, participants were introduced to the underlying principles of color (monochromatic and color), contrast, value, scale and texture employed in the creation of complex cloth using dyes, discharge media, fabric paints and foils to create the illusion of depth. Exercises included immersion dyeing, overdyeing, low water immersion dyeing, resist, discharge (color removal), stamping, stenciling and foiling as well as the creation of tools. The workshop also explored and encouraged the participants to think about the relationship and impact of the color and design processes via discussion and examples. Participants were encouraged to prepare themed ideas and images, as it was possible to prepare some of these assets and tools prior to the class.

Group Photo: Back left to right: Karen Clarke, Maureen Mutton, Helen Harwood, Rachel Bickovsky, Anna Cahill, Sadhana Peterson, Barbara Jackson, Kay Faulkner, Phyllis Sullivan, Libby Hobbs, Gai McMurtrie.
Front left to right: Pamela Bates and Dimity Kidston.


A Word About The Images
By the end of the weeklong workshop each participant created a work measuring ca. 1 x 1 meter/yard. The following works were dyed and over-dyed using various binding methods, discharged, foiled and printed using the multiple complex cloth layering techniques. Color and design principles were also studied during the week long program and effectively incorporated to create this final series of stunning works. Images below include some of the larger 1 x 1 meter works and some of the smaller 30 x 30 cm works.

Barbara Jackson's depth exploration employing complementary color study using dyeing and hand painting techniques, fabric paints, discharge, glazes and foil.

Gai McMurtrie's depth study employing analogous color study using dyeing techniques, fabric paints, discharge and foil.

Sadhana Peterson's value study employing complementary color study using dyeing techniques, fabric paints and foil.

Maureen Mutton's value study with a grid format employing analogous color study using dyeing techniques, fabric paints, discharge, glazes and foil.

Pamela Bate's depth study with a grid format employing complementary color study using dyeing techniques, fabric paints, discharge and foil.

Dimity Kidston's value exploration employing analogous color study using dyeing techniques, fabric paints and foil.

Libby Hobb's depth exploration employing complementary color study using dyeing techniques, fabric paints, discharge and glazes.

Rachel Bickovsky's value study with a grid format employing analogous color study using dyeing techniques, fabric paints and glazes.

Helen Harwood's depth exploration, with a grid format and employing a complementary color study, using dyeing techniques, fabric paints, discharge and foil.

Anna Cahill's depth study employing analogous color study using dyeing techniques, fabric paints and foil.

Phyllis Sullivan's depth exploration employing analogous color study using dyeing techniques, fabric paints, discharge, glazes and foil.

Karen Clarke's depth study employing analogous color study using dyeing techniques, fabric paints and foil.

This photo and the four photo's below show images of works created during the weeklong workshop program. The workshop output display was viewed by visiting public, other workshop attendees, tutors and the forum organizers.







Saturday, August 13, 2011

Aboriginal Batik From Central Australia
Art Review

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Introduction
There are just some reference texts that should be in any ArtCloth library. When it comes to street art, “Street Studio” by A. Young, Ghostpatrol and Miso (Thames & Hudson, Melbourne 2010, ABN: 72 004 751 964) will challenge you to do deconstructed Post Graffiti ArtCloth. For textiles, “Bauhaus Textiles” by S.W. Weltge (Thames & Hudson, London, 1993, ISBN 0-500-23658-5) is an extremely informative tome of historical significance. For Art Quilts the compendium: “ Art Quilts – A Celebration”, editors N. Mornu, D. Cusick, K.D. Aimone (Lark Books, New York, 2005, ISBN 1-57990-711-3) is a great resource. Of course, with respect to ArtCloth, most of you would be aware of Jane Dunnewold’s “Art Cloth” (Interweave, Loveland, 2010, ISBN 978-1-59668-195-8). Note: I could have named more than a dozen texts in each category and moreover, in a future blog, I will touch on some technical tomes you may be interested in.

Indigenous art around the world has been discovered, forgotten and then re-discovered again - in an endless cycle. Australian Aboriginal art became the “flavor” over several decades. At present, there are more indigenous artists in Australia then ever before. However, recently the indigenous art has fallen on hard times. This blog site has been very supportive of Australian Aboriginal art on fabric (see earlier blogs - Tjariya Stanley and Tjunkaya Tapaya, 
Ernabella Arts - see link below) and of course ArtCloth from the Tiwi Islands. The reason for our support is simple - it is just great ArtCloth!

Ernabella Arts

There is no better text on aboriginal textiles than Judith Ryan's, “Across the Desert – Aboriginal Batik From Central Australia” (Council of Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2008, ISBN 9780724102990). It is a must buy if you can get it.

Below is an overview of the book. The images in the book are just breathtaking and very detailed. There are a number of excellent essays penned by Hilary Furlong, Diana James, Julia Murray, Felicity Wright, Marina Strocchi, Katie Somerville and Linda Jackson – all of whom were former art coordinators with the Aboriginal communities and all of whom happen to be women! Most of the work covers ArtCloth generated in the areas of South Australia and the Northern Territory. This overview will only give you a glimpse of some of the ArtCloth works in order to whet your appetite and it will contain none of the Wearable Art – the lack of coverage of the latter should further encourage you to purchase the book.

Batiks billowing in the breeze at Ahalper, Utopia Batik Revival Workshop (2007). Photograph courtesy of Julia Murray.


Batik
Simply put, batik is a method originally used in Java (Indonesia) to generate colored designs on textiles by dyeing them, having first applied wax (i.e. resist) to the parts to be left un-dyed.

While the Australian Aboriginals have been often referred to as the most isolated of people in the world, they did have contact with the Torres Straight and with New Guinea as well as with some of the Indonesian islands[1]. Surprisingly, as Judith Ryan has pointed out[2], Batik was recently taught to Australian Aboriginals because of contact with non-Aboriginal textile artists and art coordinators. In fact, the oldest aboriginal women art/tribal collective is Ernabella[3] (see an earlier blog on this site - ArtCloth: Engaging New Visions).

Hilary Furlng[3] traces Ernabella’s history and pointed out that Batik was first taught in Ernabella by Leo Brereton in 1971. Leo was a young American, who learnt the technique in Indonesia. He only taught it for a month, since his aboriginal students quickly accelerated to a very sophisticated level, and easily incorporated and adapted the technique into their art practice.

Angkuna Kulyuru, Raiki wara. Batik On Silk (Ernabella).
Size: 112 cm (width) x 296 cm (length).

Generally aboriginal art is a “living art” and is “not art for art sake” and so has some relevance to social living[1]. The mythical or traditional imagery was created for those whom were meant to understand it. This general utilitarian practice led some academics to falsely suggest that their Batik ArtCloth blurred the boundaries between art and craft[2]. As Ryan has correctly asserted there is no such confusion today[2] – it was and will always be - art.

Angkuna Kulyuru, Raiki wara. Batik On Silk (Ernbella).
Size: 118 cm (width) x 214 cm (length).

Central Australian myths are usually divided in accordance to whether men or women hold the ownership of the myths and moreover, to what extent of the other sex’s myth each sex is allowed to know. Myths are generally seen as a framework for values of a society – its social fabric  - based on desires and fears[4]. Diana James[5] traces the Batik lines iin Kaltjiti artists of Fregon – a breakaway group from Ernabella. As she as pointed out[5] these artist’s song and story lines of their culture flows “…directly into the lines of their art”.

Manyinta (Katie) Curley. Raiki wara. Batik on Silk (Fregon).
Size: 91.6 cm x 290 cm (length).

Aboriginals saw themselves and nature as a continuum, mutually dependent and in agreement with each other. They felt most secure in their homeland, because all the landforms there were created by their ancestral beings[6]. Julia Murray documents the Utopia Batik phenomenon[7]. She highlights that the 1979 Land Claim for the pastoral lease of Utopia was successful and that “…Utopia was the first pastoral lease to be converted to aboriginal freehold title”. Their Batik works were considered relevant to their claim as the traditional land caretakers.

Violet Petyarr, Anerlarr (pencil yam). Batik On Silk (Utopia).
Size: 93 cm (width) x 190 cm (length).

Non-literate societies generally lack words for abstract metaphysical concepts and so they tend to express such ideas of nature through myth, rite and symbol[8]. Felicity Wright summarizes the Yuendumu Batiks[9]. She recounts that when Yuendumu Batiks were created the senior women were regularly holding a yawulyu (women’s ceremonies).

Peggy Napurrla Poulson, Wapirti Jukurrpa (Small yam Dreaming). Batik On Cotton (Yuendumu).
Size: 87 cm (width) x 85.4 cm (length).

Aboriginal law is a radical different view of life and it depends for its continuance on the indoctrination and initiation of young Aboriginal men and women into the ways and secrets of its elders. It is therefore fragile, since it is an orally transmitted cultural lore, which in the space of one generation of Christian conversion can be irrevocably lost[6]. Marina Strocchi maps out the trials and tribulations of the Kintore Batiks[10]. Marina notes that Tjunkiya “…strength and resilience in the face of burying her children is aided by her adherence to the Law.”

Tjunkiya Napaltjarri: Untitled. Batik On Cotton.
Size: 112.3 cm (width) x 195 cm (length).

In conclusion, the essays are informative, the 66 images of the artwork brilliant, the Wearable Art stunning and moreover, the ArtCloth is simply great - a must buy!


References:
[1] R.M & C.H. Berndt, The World of the First Australians, Ure Smith, Sydney, 2nd Ed. (1977).

[2] J. Ryan, Across The Desert – Aboriginal Batik from Central Australia, Council of Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2008).

[3] H. Furlong, inbid.

[4] I. M. White in Australian Aboriginal Mythology, ed. L.R. Hiatt, Execlsis Press, Carlton (1975) P123-142.

[5] D. James, Across The Desert – Aboriginal Batik from Central Australia, Council of Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2008).

[6] R. Tonkinson, The Jiglong Mob, The Benjamin/Cummings Publish Company, Sydney (1974).

[7] J. Murray, Across The Desert – Aboriginal Batik from Central Australia, Council of Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2008).

[8] L.R. Hiatt in Australian Aboriginal Mythology, ed. L.R. Hiatt, Execlsis Press, Carlton (1975) P1-23.

[9] F. Wright, Across The Desert – Aboriginal Batik from Central Australia, Council of Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2008)

[10] M. Strocchi, inbid.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Made To Order
Fine-Art Prints (Silkscreen)

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Preamble
This blogspot is not only devoted to ArtCloth and all things fabric (e.g. wearables) but also to limited edition prints on paper and artists' printmakers books. I have listed below for your convenience my contribution to this artistic genre.

Unique State (Partners in Print)
Wangi's Djiran:"Unique State" Prints
Veiled Curtains
A Letter to a Friend
Beyond the Fear of Freedom
Travelling Solander Project
Star Series
Imprint
Cry for the Wilderness
Federation on Hold - Call Waiting
Wish You Were Where?
The Four Seasons


Introduction
I have always combined my passions. My prints on cloth techniques inform my prints on paper techniques and vice versa (where such overlaps are possible). Hence I developed my Multisperse Dye Sublimation, Matrix Formatting and Low Relief Screen Printing (LRSP) techniques for prints on paper and then modified and transferred these techniques to cloth in order to create some of my ArtCloth works.

Made To Order: Limited Edition Prints on Paper
Manipulating the genes of plants and animals has a long tradition in the history of human kind. For example, corn and wheat harvested last century was not the corn and wheat believed to have been naturally created thousands of years BC. More dramatically, the current dog sub-species (e.g. Rough Collies) were only created in recent times. Furthermore, "Mad Cow" disease has become a recent engineered phenomenon due to the desire of farmers wanting fatter bovines. By feeding them offal from pigs the growth hormones consumed produced fatter cows, but also produced meat that hosted a virus that attacked the human brain. Ethical questions aside, the consequences of making herbivores into carnivores has had tragic outcomes.

It is only in recent times that species "cross insertion" can be easily achieved. Genetic engineering is the technique used to modify the genetic code of one plant or animal by inserting the genetic code of another. Like all such processes, "Nature" has no opinion on the value of the process. Once such a process has been developed, whether the process is used wisely or otherwise is only a relative measure – a human judgment.

Genetically modified foods (GMF) are foods that have been genetically altered by human beings in order to satisfy a particular purpose that originally "Nature" did not intend nor engineer. For example, tomatoes only contain a certain level of sugar. Human beings like to eat sweet foods. By altering the make-up of the plant, scientists can make tomatoes sweeter and so tomato producers can sell more. To do this requires altering the building stuff that makes up the tomato plant.

All plants and animals contain deoxyribonucleotides (DNA). DNA is a molecule made up of a sequence of amino acid units. There are approximately 22 different types of amino acid units and a DNA molecule contains only some of them. The order of these amino acid units in DNA defines what type of DNA it is (i.e. type of plant or animal) and what its purpose is (i.e. what type of proteins it will manufacture). A gene is a region of the DNA strand that codes what molecules that need to be produced. By splicing in a specific gene from another plant or animal into the DNA sequence of a tomato, you can make it sweeter.

Using genes from animals in plant foods and even genes from human beings poses ethical, philosophical and religious dilemmas. For example, in both the Muslim and Jewish religions, consuming pork is forbidden. Hence inserting a gene from a pig into a plant will cause certain religious groups significant distress (especially if they are unaware that this operation was performed). On the other hand, one could argue that modifying crops to resist attack from pest or disease would be environmentally beneficial, since it would reduce the need for chemical sprays that are currently damaging our river systems (e.g. eliminate the presence of green algae) or it could mean that the drop in the population of pests or the frequency of disease may have unforeseen dire consequences in some other unforeseen bio-cycle; that is, intricate feedback loops are hard to tease out in terms of their ultimate overall effect.

"Made to Order" is a series of four prints on paper that addresses the dilemma of GMF. These prints do not just present foods that are genetically modified. These prints take on a stance that all genetically modified food should be labeled since this is what these prints are in fact doing – they are labeling a selection of plants that have been modified and then identifying the genes that have been inserted. They are voicing the opinion that the consumer has a right to know!

These limited edition prints were created in 2000 and are held at The University of Newcastle Print Collection (collected in 2000) and in private collections (collected in 2000). They were exhibited at Megalo Print Studio & Gallery (Canberra) - see previous blog. Some editions are available for sale as a series or on individual basis.


Made to Order I
{Screen-print, 70 cm (length) x 55 cm (width) - a set of ten colors was used in this print}.



Wheat was chosen as a topic for this print, since it has been genetically modified for over 5000 years using traditional methods of cross-fertilization. For example, the CSIRO has been investigating for several decades the creation of a hybrid plant that will resist disease such as wheat "rust". However, modern genetic engineering techniques are currently being researched in order to obtain a variety of wheat that is resistant to pests and diseases. In order for this to be achieved a catalogue of gene symbols was being established when this print was created.

A photographic reproduction of a field of stacked wheat bundles forms the background of the bottom of the print. A double-stranded DNA motif is in the lower right hand corner of the print in order to ensure that the viewer is aware that the subject matter is about the genetic engineering of wheat. This is further substantiated by the incorporation of the catalogue of gene symbols text in the top left of the print. In the top right hand corner the "Hand of the New Creator" indicates that it is a human rather than Nature's intervention.


Made to Order II
{Screen-print, 70 cm (length) x 55 cm (width) - a set of fifteen colors was used in this print}.



Bioengineers at one company learned that the Arctic flounder produces an antifreeze to protect itself in freezing waters. When this print was created they planned to find the gene that regulates production of the antifreeze, which they intended to introduce into strawberry plants. Their success would result in strawberry plants that can withstand frosts and berries that do not turn to mush after spending time in the home freezer.

This text is incorporated in the top right hand corner of the print over the image of the DNA zinc finger. An illustrated panel of fish moving in all directions sits in a central position behind a large strawberry. These are two food types, which normally have no cross-fertilization history. This association is further queried by the image of fishing trawlers in a bay at the bottom of the print. To further develop the un-natural pairing of these foods, tiny black "fish" have replaced the yellow "pips" that are normally found on the strawberry surfaces.


Made to Order III
{Screen-print, 70 cm (length) x 55 cm (width) - a set of fourteen colors was used in this print}.



"Flavr-Savr" tomatoes were developed to ripen more slowly on the vine without going soft - to improve their flavor while keeping them sturdy enough to travel long distances and extend their shelf life. Once in a tomato plant, the "Flavr-Savr" gene attaches itself to the polygalacturonase (PG) gene. With the "Flavr-Savr" gene adhering to it, the PG gene cannot give the necessary signals to produce the polygalacturonase enzyme that destroys pectin (the compound that makes the tomato go soft). One way of visualizing this is to imagine how hard it would be for people to function if we each had a mirror image of ourselves stuck to us.

Two line art tomatoes attached to each other (in boxes) appear in the top left hand corner of the print together with some of the above text. An image of a ferritin homolog that binds and protects DNA is situated in a central position behind the tomato. A computer-manipulated reproduction of a laboratory scene is positioned at the bottom of the print. The central tomato image shows a whole tomato and a cut tomato. The central cream-colored area of this cut tomato has been printed upside down to further develop the concept of the conversion of the PG gene into a reverse image of itself called an anti-sense orientation.


Made to Order IV
{Screen-print, 70 cm (length) x 55 cm (width) - a set of sixteen colors was used in this print}.



Possibly the most controversial development in GM technology is the so-called "Terminator" Gene, inserted into plant DNA. When the gene is activated, it causes the seeds of the next generation to self-destruct; that is, they are rendered sterile and cannot be saved for the next season.

This text has been printed in the mid-left section of the print. An image of a DNA template appears in the top right hand corner. Corn stalks along a fence line are printed at the bottom of the print. A large cob of corn is positioned in the center and directly above it is a DNA single crystal. To further substantiate it is a human rather than Nature's intervention, the "Hands of the New Creator" appear in the upper left and upper right of the corn cob. This also confirms in the viewers mind that the prints have started and ended with this concept of human intervention and so completes the series.