Printmakers capture layers of area history

Prints recount historic sites in Greater Victoria as the city turns 150

Ground Zero Printmakers’ Creative Director Victoria Edgarr watches (back) as artist Gail Lamarche pulls a print (entitled Botanical Lesson at St. Annes) from a press at the Ground Zero workshop.

To celebrate Victoria’s 150th anniversary a group of artists is using the medium that would have originally captured some of the city’s most well-recognized historic sites for all to see.

Fifteen artists with Ground Zero Printmakers visited seven historical sites in the city to make original artworks in a variety of printmaking mediums, such as etching, silkscreen and drypoint.

These prints will then be used in a series of handmade albums, one of which will be presented to the City of Victoria at the Oct. 25 council meeting. That edition will go into the city archives. Another copy will go to the library system for the public to access, another for Ground Zero’s own collection.

“So that the public can enjoy these prints for the next 150 years,” said Victoria Edgarr Ground Zero creative director and project contributor.

Printmaking is a form of artwork that uses a variety of materials, such as wood or metal, to make art that can be printed onto paper. The process allows you to make many nearly identical prints of the same piece of artwork.

Edgarr said that printmaking is a particularly apt artform to help commemorate Victoria’s history because it has been around as long as the city itself.

In the days before the mass use of photographs, artists would draw locations in the city and then engravers would use those images to make prints for newspapers and other print materials of the day.

Ground Zero launched the project with an open air printmaking session at St. Ann’s Academy and have since visited the Rock Bay neighbourhood, Beacon Hill, Bastion and Centennial squares, the Chinese cemetery at Harling Point and Chinatown, Ground Zero’s ground zero.

“Every place tells you about the people who made it,” Edgarr said. “What was there before, what is there now, historically when those things were made and the assumptions of the people who made them.”

Beyond that, the artists are seeing the sites through their own experiences, influences and perspectives adding another layer of interpretation.

Edgarr said that the experience has changed the way she looks at the city. Learning about the look of the city and how it developed influences her perspective as she walks its streets.

“(You’re) really trying to relate it to the story of the place, the people that have lived here and that live here and that will live here.”

The albums will feature 15 to 20 pieces along with text from the artists describing each work.

While only a few albums are being produced, prints of individual works will be available to the public.

They invite the public to see the process of creating the prints during studio visits June 30, July 28 and August 11.

Ground Zero Printmakers, at 549 1/2 Fisgard St., third floor, will be open from noon to 5 p.m. those days.


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