Tate Adams

At the age of at 88, printmaker Tate Adams AM shows no sign of slowing down.

In a biography on his work, Director of the Perc Tucker Gallery Frances Thomson writes: “Now in his 80s, Adams has adopted gouache as his favoured medium. The intricacies of the woodblock have been abandoned. And the master has emerged.”

This exhibition, curated by Vanessa Gerrans, showcases a broad spectrum of work from one of Australia’s most acclaimed printmakers.

The Townsville based artist has a long connection with RMIT University.

Born in Ireland, Adams moved to Melbourne in 1952, after already making a name for himself as a printmaker. In 1960, he established the artist print department at RMIT University, where he taught for 22 years. Adams is acknowledged as both improving printmaking technical standards in printmaking and developing printmaking as a respected art form.

Adams’ students included the late George Baldessin (regarded as one of Australia’s best printmakers), Elizabeth Cross and Graeme Peebles. In 1966, he established Crossley Gallery, the only commercial gallery in Australia devoted exclusively to printmaking.

Together with Baldessin, Adams established Lyre Bird Press to publish high calibre livres d’artistes. After the closure of the Crossley Print Workshop in 1977; Adams continued to produce books with Lyre Bird Press in Melbourne until 2002.

When he moved to Townsville in 1989, Adams established Lyre Bird Press at James Cook University where he became an honourary lecturer. Lyre Bird Press continues to publish books in collaboration with Jenny Zimmer of Zimmer Editions.

Now in his late 80s, Adams is still engaged in his own artistic practice. In 2010 Adams was made the Inaugural Honorary Fellow of the Print Council of Australia.

Pandanus is an example of his latest work. On turning 80 and recognising he no longer had the sharp eyesight or physical co-ordination to continue with the highly detailed woodcuts that had established his reputation as a printmaker of stature, Adams launched into a series of black gouache paintings.

Jenny Zimmer writes; “There is little doubt that decades devoted to the discipline of the miniature art of wood engraving have fuelled the explosion of artistic energy that has characterised Tate Adam’s art over the past decades. How fortunate it is that he has re-acknowledged the power of the gesture and allowed himself the pleasure of exploiting it in a manner that summarises his experience as an artist and also identifies the type of art to which he himself responds most readily.” (Tate Adams, by Frances Thomson & Jenny Zimmer, Macmillan Art Publishing, 2010)

A celebration event will be held at RMIT Gallery on Wednesday 28 September with Tate Adams.


Tate ADAMS, Gouache 225, 2003


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