Many hands make light work: Out of the Matrix – World Environment Day event


Brewing up the dye: Eucalyptus and Melaleuca bark boil away at Rebecca Mayo’s World Environment Day printmaking event at Edgars Creek, North Coburg.

Early morning on Sunday June 5 – World Environment Day – was a cold and wet one for an artist holding an outdoor printmaking event in Melbourne, though not on a scale seen in Paris, where devastating floods forced the Louvre and Orsay museums to shut while staff moved art work to safety.

Still, printmaker Rebecca Mayo, whose work Merri Creek Zeltbahnen features in the RMIT Gallery printmaking exhibition Out of the Matrix, wondered if her outdoor art event would attract an audience.

But come they did, eager to participate. Everyone was offered the chance to help create a public art work, and were handed a calico square Mayo had prepared. She pre-mordanted the fabric squares with letters, and as the cloth was dipped into the boiling vats of  Eucalyptus and Melaleuca bark, letters emerged like magic.

“I’ve had this brew of local plants soaking for a month, and the fabric squares are screenprinted with alum so the dye holds. It’s basic chemistry,” Mayo said.

After stirring the vat of fragrant organic dye, and swirling around their cloth square, people were then asked to peg the letters onto two lines, and like a quiz game guess what sentences might appear from the random selection of letters.  This delighted the children who loved a wet and messy activity, and merrily took part with adults who had emerged from their warm Sunday sleep-in.


The work emerges: participants were asked to peg up the fabric cloth squares they helped dye in the locally sourced brew.

The work revealed itself over the course of the morning, with people coming and going during the two hour event. The artist chatted about her work, explaining the process she used to create her zeltbahn, which was pitched nearby, and had been dyed and screen printed with indigenous and exotic plants of the Merri Creek.

“The Zeltbahn (quarter tent) is a single garment that, when buttoned to the other zeltbahnen creates a shelter for many,” said Mayo.

Rebecca Mayo’s work is positioned as a social practice incorporating weeding, planting, sewing, printing, dyeing, collecting and walking. The original project was triggered by her participation as a volunteer restoration worker at the Merri Creek in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, and she felt the World Environment Day event was a perfect opportunity to share her passion for the area, its restoration work, and her interest in using locally sourced materials.

Asked about the vivid blue on the dyed tent, and she takes those interested to a nearby spot where volunteer workers from Friends of Merri Creek spent the morning planting Australian indigo and other plants.

“I feel guilty – I am usually helping plant, not make art!” she said. She was delighted when a volunteer asked to have their Friends of Merri Creek shirt dyed in the Melaleuca bark.

A hardy few stayed to the very end, when the cloth squares were arranged to reveal two common sayings – with a community-based and ecological friendly themes appropriate for the day:

“Many hands make light work” and “A stitch in time saves nine”.


Artist Rebecca Mayo (centre, in yellow vest) with her completed work.

You can see Rebecca Mayo’s work at the Out of the Matrix printmaking exhibition at RMIT Gallery until Saturday 11 June.




Out of the Matrix: World Environment Day Event

Join printmaker Rebecca Mayo at Merri Creek tributary Edgar’s Creek on Sunday 5 June from 10.30am – 12.30 pm for this special World Environment Day event, co-hosted by RMIT Gallery and Friends of Merri CreekFriends of Edgars Creek and Moreland City Council.

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Image: Rebecca Mayo Zeltbahn (as shelter tent) at Cooper St Grassland gorse mop-up November 2013 calico dyed and screen printed with weeds and indigenous plants from the Merri Creek, zinc buttons, eyelets, tope, tent poles each tent quarter 200 x 200 x 280 cm Photograph: David Burrows

Rebecca, whose work features in the current RMIT Gallery printmaking exhibition Out of the Matrix (until 11 June) will talk about the historic waterway that inspires her practice. Visitors can join her while she produces an on-site dyed work. Mayo’s event accompanies the Planting, Litter Clean-up and BBQ of local friends groups, funded by Moreland City Council.

Her work in the exhibition, Merri Creek Zeltbahnen, 2013 – 2016, is a series of quarter tents printed and dyed with plants collected at the creek. Linking these labour intensive processes with the similarly repetitive processes of ecological restoration is a means of exploring urban ecologically significant sites through her practice.


Rebecca Mayo with her work at RMIT Gallery’s Out of the Matrix exhibition.

Rebecca Mayo is a lecturer in Print Imaging Practice at RMIT School of Art. She is a PhD candidate at the School of Art, Australian National University, Canberra.

Her current practice incorporates printmaking, textiles, walking and urban ecology. She works with locally growing plants extracting natural dyes as a screenprinting medium. The resulting textiles pay attention to the repetition common to her studio practice and ecological restoration.

“Like many people living in Melbourne’s inner north, the Merri Creek flows through my daily life as a space to relax, as a path to and from the city and, increasingly, as a place I help to restore,” Ms Mayo said.


Out of the Matrix: World Environment Day Event Details

Date: Sunday 5 June 2016

Time: 10am-12.30pm


Meet Rebecca Mayo at Edgars Creek, near Ronald and Danthonia Streets, North Coburg (Melways Ref 18 A9)


Public Transport.

Tram 11 from the city: Embark Collins St (or Brunswick St). Travel north. Disembark Stop 45 – Jacka Street, Coburg. Walk east along Jacka St, follow the road onto Boyne St. Turn right onto Ronald, follow the road around until you see the park entrance just past Danthonia St. Wander down and find everyone!

By Car: On street parking is available in Ronald and neighbouring streets

Read more.


Performprint’s live art event attracts skater fans

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Skateboarders gather to watch Chris Buckman create “Beauty, bearings and irrelevance’ in Rodda Lane, behind RMIT Gallery, on Saturday 21 May, 2016.

Saturday afternoon, behind RMIT Gallery, in the middle of the city. Despite being mid May, the mild weather was kind for the crowd, and ditto the lack of rain for artist Joel Gailer, who was inking up the large wooden panels in preparation for skater Chris Buckman.

Performprint’s Beauty, bearings and irrelevance, a live performance art work on Saturday 21 May as part of RMIT Gallery’s printmaking exhibition Out of the Matrix, was engaging and atmospheric, with loud music pumping out of a boom box.

But it was the sound of the wheels on the white board that drew a crowd of young skaters down Rodda Lane, like seagulls lured by the smell of hot chips. They watched as Buckman made his mark, gliding the wheel’s carved words ‘vixen’, ‘matrix’, ‘singular’ ‘repeat’ and ‘give me relief’ over the ink and onto the prepared surface.


Gailer says that Buckman added his own authorship to the resulting work, requesting skating in four spots of ink rather than one, and determining when the image was finished.

There was no final bow to the audience, no round of applause – the skater and the artist wanted it that way, with the last roll of the carved skateboard wheels turning in the breeze and memory.

The print had emerged and rested temporarily for its photo call. The skaters lingered and then left to do their own skating at the nearby State Library forecourt. The rest of the audience chatted and took photos, then headed out into the afternoon.

For those who decided to get a closer look – well, they tracked home the inky residue on their shoes, collecting a printmaking memento. Just like Buckman’s hands.



Skateboarding & printmaking: performance Saturday 21 May


Out of the Matrix: Joel Gailer makes tracks in his live performance art. Photo: Tobias Titz

Skateboarding and printmaking? This Saturday 21 May from 1-2 pm at RMIT Gallery, the printmaking collaboration Performprint will create a work for the exhibition Out of the Matrix using a board, ink and skater Chris Buckman – be there!

Out of the Matrix – the RMIT Gallery printmaking exhibition that celebrates new directions in printmaking, is currently showing at RMIT Gallery until 11 June. Curator Richard Harding says printmaking embraces performance. Think about it – artists move to make prints, turning the wheel on the press, dipping a plate in an acid bath to make an etching. It can be a dazzling show and the best bit is there is never, ever any certainty as to how the print will turn out until it is separated from the matrix.

In the case of Performprint’s performance Bearings, beauty and irrelevance”    the matrix is the carved skateboard wheels.

Artist Joel Gailer, who is completing his PhD in printmaking at RMIT, used to do the action and as these photos by Tobias Titz reveal, he is not slouch when it comes to handling a skateboard. But Gailer says ‘age and knee issues’ have caught up with him when it comes to the great acrobatic tricks that thrill the crowd.

Enter experienced skater Chris Buckman.

Chris Buckman

Skater Chris Buckman will be adding his own marks to Performprint’s live art performance at RMIT Gallery on 21 May as part of the ‘Out of the Matrix’ exhibition

Gailer says that Buckman will be adding his own authorship to the resulting work, having requested skating in four spots of ink rather than one. The print that emerges will all depend on the movements and jumps and falls of Buckman’s skateboard. His actions and prowess on the board will determine the finished artwork.

“Performprint is a collaborative group of artists who are interested in divesting ownership in the work,” Gailer explains.

“Printmaking is very concerned with formal ownership, but we are interested in printmaking that hasn’t been recognised. For instance, branding is a type of ownership.”

Gailer pauses.

“I’ve been branded as a part of my performance.”

In fact, Gailer submitted to the hot branding iron not once, but twice in pursuit of his art and research. You could say it’s the ultimate commitment for his art – and doctoral studies. In two separate performances, Gailer had the phrase “A cool breeze on your hot eggs” seared into his flesh, and then “hot process” branded into his other thigh.

“Yes, it was an extreme act, but it was part of a very intense, 10 hour performance, so I got into a particular head space.”


A spot of ink, carved skateboard wheels and performance – don’t miss watching Performprint in action. Photo: Tobias Titz.

Performprint’s work “Beauty, bearings and irrelevance” created by Buckman is in the exhibition as the performance on 21 May only – the resulting print will not be on display at RMIT Gallery, although audiences are encouraged to photograph and video the action.

The action will take place in the laneway (Rodda lane) behind  RMIT Gallery on Swanston Street. However, audiences are asked to meet at the gallery and follow the signs to the performance.

Join the performance! What can you expect? This is a four channel work created by Performprint as part of Skater Editions for the Signal projection screen. It features a range of performers making experimental prints on canvas using carved skateboard wheels.

What: “Beauty, bearings and irrelevance” Performprint’s live art performance, featuring skater Chris Buckman

When: Saturday 21 May from 1-2 pm (event may finish after 45 minutes)

Where: Rodda lane, RMIT (behind RMIT gallery, 344 Swanston Street Melbourne – follow signs posted at the gallery and walk around the corner)

Bookings: FREE event (with music) more information: 


Expanding print panel discussion: what next for print?


Performprint, is a collective featuring two artists and an anonymous skateboarder, takes printmaking off the walls and out of the gallery. Photo by Tobias Titz.

Using the premise of the matrix, from which all prints emanate, the RMIT printmaking exhibition Out of the Matrix at RMIT Gallery (6 May-11 June) invites viewers to explore new ways of thinking about printmaking.

Join printmakers Jazmina Cininas, Joel Gailer, Bridget Hillebrand, Clare Humphries and  Andrew Tetzlaff on Thursday 12 May, 5.30-6.30 pm as they discuss what it means as an artist to be print informed, and how they use both analogue and digital techniques in their work, and ponder the nature and future of printmaking.

What: The expanding print – panel discussion

When: Thursday 12 May, 5.30-6.30 pm

Where: Green Brain RMIT, Storey Hall, Level 7, 344 Swanston Street, Melbourne. (NOTE: we have moved the event next door from RMIT Gallery due to size of the audience and restrictions of gallery space).

Bookings: free – register here for seating.


Andrew Tetzlaff with his work Yarra (suspended), 2015. Inkjet fabric print.

RMIT University has a long tradition of pushing the boundaries of printmaking, and this exciting new exhibition at RMIT Gallery brings together a group of artists who activate an expanded understanding of print practice, and who all have a connection to the RMIT printmaking studio either as staff or alumni.

With 2016 declared ‘the year of print’ in celebration of the Print Council of Australia’s 50th anniversary, Out of the Matrix focuses the spotlight firmly on the outstanding achievements of RMIT printmakers over the past 65 years, and their current agency within the wider print community.


Clare Humphries, installing her work What remains, what returns, 2016. in Out of the Matrix at RMIT Gallery.

About the panel

CHAIR: Jazmina Cininas’s technically demanding reduction linocuts of female werewolves have been exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally. The unconventional portraits feature in ABCTV’s Re-Enchantment documentary project and can be found in many major Australian public collections. Jazmina completed her PhD project The Girlie Werewolf Hall of Fame in 2014.

Joel Gailer’s work directs its focus to the mass produced and commercial world of print and copy-based technologies. Highlighting our excessive and compliant consumption of printed media his prints are a light-hearted reverence for printmaking and its relationship to mass production, media and print processes. Gailer’s practice is extended through the collaborative development Performprint.

Bridget Hillebrand is completing her practice-based PhD at Monash University. She has a Master Degree in Fine Art, RMIT University where she lectures in the Print Imaging Practice Studio at the School of Art. She has won a number of printmaking awards and is represented in numerous collections in Australia and overseas.

Clare Humphries current practice explores objects of the deceased and notions of materiality within rituals of bereavement. She is a lecturer in Drawing and Printmedia at the Victorian College of the Arts and has work represented in major public collections including the National Gallery of Australia.

Andrew Tetzlaff is a Melbourne-based artist, curator and academic. His practice considers the felt bodily encounter of matter, phenomena and site—specifically focusing on ways in which material objects can reveal or allude to intangible forces. Recent projects include: 2015 – The Door in the Wall, Yarra (suspended), CONCRETE POST 3 and Tomorrow Never Dies; and 2014 – Situations and Displace.




Opening nights: Streets of Papunya & Out of the Matrix

Please join us at RMIT Gallery on Thursday 5 May from 6-8 pm when Martin Bean CBE, Vice-Chancellor and President, RMIT University, launches two new exhibitions:


FRIDAY 6 MAY – STREETS OF PAPUNYA Curator and artist talk

Featuring: Vivien Johnson and Charlotte Phillipus Napurrula

Streets of Papunya includes some of the first women painters in the desert, who joined the original Papunya art movement in the early 1980s, and the daughters of many of the ground-breaking Papunya Tula artists of the 1970s.

Charlotte Phillipus Napurrula, a painter and executive member of the Papunya Tjupi Art Centre, will be travelling to Melbourne for the opening of the Streets of Papunya exhibition at RMIT Gallery, and will speak about the work in the exhibition along with eminent Papunya scholar curator Vivien Johnson in this floor talk.Free – bookings required


Thursday 12 May | 5.30-6.30pm: Panel discussion – The expanding print

Join printmakers exhibiting in Out of the Matrix for this panel discussion on ‘the expanding print’.

Chair Jazmina Cininas, panel: Joel Gailer, Bridget Hillebrand, Clare Humphries,  Andrew Tetzlaff.

One of the interesting things about artists who are print informed is that they are quite taken with media that do not appear to immediately relate, such as the moving image.

Notions of enactment and performance resonate with many artists who utilise a matrix base. A printed mode of production may bring with it a consciousness of the moment of contact between plate and paper as an event, as a ritual or even an embrace. Free: bookings essential