Making our mark Anne Masters
In February 2012 I came across View from the Summit of Mount Ainslie, 1911[i] a rendering of American architect Walter Burley Griffin’s imagined Canberra by his professional partner and wife Marion Mahony Griffin.
This drawing fascinated me. Upon reading about the variety of processes Marion used to convey Walter’s winning entry in the 1912 Australian Federal Capital Design Competition I felt a compulsion to respond to her interpretation. Marion’s use of drawing, silk-screen, lithography and watercolours was something I thought I could relate to in my ceramic work.
While I could visualise Marion’s watercolours through glazes, I also wanted to create layers within the work, adapting the techniques ceramic artists use.
I knew Marion drew ‘…on linen tracing cloth, lithographed on window shade holland (starched and polished linen) and rendered in watercolour and photographic dyes …’[ii]. An Australian shade blind with a simple weave pressed on the clay tile became my first layer. I then created a stamp from a Canberra tourist spoon (relic from my childhood collection) to press a series of rows into the bottom of the landscape. Selected parts of a vinyl placemat from the National Museum of Australia shop created the centre focus of the drawing – the ‘City’ and the ‘Environs’[iii] with the famous Griffin axis lines in between.
Local ghost gum trees and Marion’s silhouette, were drawn then screen-printed onto the clay tablet. I drew myself in a contemporary pose utilising a modern process (decal printing) to create a solid black image. The constant hands-on process has been fascinating. Through every action – pressing, making glazes, painting – I felt I have forged a relationship with the woman who made her own mark nearly a century ago.
For nearly two years Marion has been my constant studio companion; she has helped me to understand a little bit more about making my mark in my place – Canberra.
[i] Andrew Metcalf, Canberra Architecture, Watermark Press. 2003
[ii] Roy Lippincott, n.d, Creating a new nation’s capital: The Griffins’ vision for Canberra. National Archives of Australia. Accessed at (http://naa.gov.au/collection/publications/papers-and-podcasts/designing-canberra/griffi-vision-for-canberra.aspx) on 11 July 2012.
[iii] Batterham, I. 1998. ‘The Walter Burley Griffin Design Drawings of the City of Canberra: Conservation Work at the National Archives of Australia’. Restaurator: International Journal for the Preservation of Library and Archival Material. 19 (3): 115-171.
© Anne Masters Ceramics