Under Pressure Jo Lysaght

After 3 years practicing printmaking, Jo Lysaght considers herself a novice still. She says, “there is still so much to learn. You can’t rush printmaking and the methodical nature makes you slow down and enjoy each phase. You can plan a piece fully, but the nature of the print will surprise you each time, and that’s what I find so enjoyable.ʺ Jo works mainly in lino- and woodcuts, and recently experimented with relief prints to add a variety of textures to her work. She chooses subject matters she enjoys; predominately native birds.
“Working on a computer daily, I love the tactile feel that print gives - the overlays of colours and the interaction between graphic elements and the subtle emboss from the plate under the etching press. There are infinite possibilities for each piece.” Lysaght, shares with us insight into the concepts and process of two of her works exhibited in Under Pressure, Contemporary Wairarapa Print Artist Exhibition. Shag 2, was inspired by Lysaght’s experience of seeing native commorants in the Marlborough Sounds and she was struck by their distinctive shape. “Lino and woodcutting are very graphic and bold by nature, so I wanted to explore some more tone, and texture in this piece. The sky is delicate and was made by painting gesso on board, running a comb through it and then printing it in a transparent colour. The layers are slowly built up using found objects like vinyl flooring for the sea texture, lino carving for the rocks and a wood carving of the shag. The biggest challenge is getting everything to fit together and I do this by using a registration process called Turns Burton Pins, I couldn’t do it without them.”

Family dog Ralph is the subject of Ralph. Re-homed with Lysaght’s family, he arrived a bit nervous but has settled in nicely and is ‘sometimes’ helpful moving the stock. ʺThis piece is poking fun at the idea that he wants to be farm dog, but he really isn’t oneʺ, Jo laughs.
This is a multi-plate lino cut which means a separate lino for each colour. There are eight colours with some plates printed twice in slightly different shades.
This was a very challenging piece, it took 5 months to complete, working on and off mainly due to the amount of carving. Once carved, there is a long process of colour checking and proofing to make sure all the plates are working together. You can get the first 7 plates good, then the 8th can spoil it so, there’s a lot of work to get the final print.

Jo Lysaght, Shag 2
Jo Lysaght, Shag 2
Jo Lysaght, Ralph, linocut
Jo Lysaght, Ralph