Pochoir (French); noun; stencil

” This print is based on outside fire that we like to roast crabs (Getalai) on.

The orange stands for cooked crabs and the black is badly burnt steamed crabs.”

Paula savage, Artist
Paula Savage
Getali (Crab) – 1 of 3, 2021

Pochoir printing is a stencilling process used to make multiple, unique prints. It allows for a more flexible and adaptive approach to produce individual works that change across a series, shifting in composition, colour and effect.

The pochoir process used at Moa Arts in 2021 involved transferring stencils between two inked plates. The stencils are laid on the inked surface and flipped from plate to plate in successive passes through the press. Each time the plates pass through, changes are made to the composition through a rearrangement of the stencils. The saturation of the colour changes each time, as the ink ‘load’ is reduced. At the end of the process, the final works (wonderfully coined ‘ghost prints’), hold not just the subdued colours of the original inking, but multiple shadows of the stencils as they have moved from place to place. They are like maps of the things that came before, mysterious and complex and defined in subtle tones.  

You’re free to move and interact, you can put more in. There’s no end to it. It keeps going.

Fiona Mosby, Artist

Because the pochoir process is relatively fast when compared to conventional relief printing, it allows for a more spontaneous engagement between the artist and the picture plane. The immediate aesthetic response of the artist is elevated, becoming as important as the technical processes involved. Unconstrained by the demands of registration, the process offers far greater freedom for the artist to innovate and experiment, especially when compared to the meticulous processes demanded by multi-coloured relief and intaglio prints.   

Kulba Thonaral State I
Fiona Mosby, 2021

In this way, pochoir printing is closer to the idea of ‘process’ that emerged in the 1960’s than it is to conventional printmaking, which strives for consistency above all else. It is inherently more active, more flexible and responsive, the verb to printmaking’s noun. For the artists at Moa Arts, pochoir printmaking is a new way of telling old stories.

Before-time stories blend seamlessly with modern experiences. The crabs, shellfish and fish bones are as real today as they ever were. Traditional ‘minaral’ or Melanesian mark making endures, so that in finding new means of visual expression the past is not lost, it is reinforced. It is embodied in everything that is made and becomes richer each time it is expressed.  

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