Le Chéile was a collaboration between artists from the Regional Print Centre,Wrexham,Wales and the Leinster Printmaking studio,Clane, Co. Kildare. After initial contacts in 2004,artist ‘twins’ or working groups were established and themes of land/language/place/ were decided on as a starting point for the work. Following successful exhibitions in the Irish Republic, Wales and Australia the project evolved beyond its’ original remit to include new artists and fresh collaborations. The project finally finished at the end of 2011
The collaboration was initiated in August 2004 when Steffan Jones-Hughes, from the Regional Print Studio in Wrexham, visited Ireland on a CCAT Interreg Go and See grant. He met with Margaret Becker in the Leinster Printmaking Studio and they talked about the potential for some sort of print exchange. In October 2006 discussions were followed by exchange visits between artists in both studios.
The seed for this project lay with John Berger’s account of his communication through drawing with Marisa Camino. They found the lack of a common (verbal) language an advantage. Twinning with a Welsh partner we began a similar dialogue, where some of us have tried to communicate only through the image. Themes of land, language and place emerged as starting points for this dialogue. It has been both an invigorating and a challenging experience. The work was exchanged by email or post, in notebooks or as first proofs.
What made this collaboration especially different is the fact that the artists were not working in the same physical space and therefore the work was produced sequentially. There was no face-to-face communication, no interruptions of dialogue, no discussion, and no immediate response. The collaborating artist responded to the work in front of him/her. The work developed at a distance, slowly. Therefore, because of this delayed response, the project was a long term one.
I joined Le Chéile at the beginning whilst doing a residency at the Regional Printcentre, Wrexham, Wales. I first went to Ireland with Linda Davies and Alison Craig to meet the Irish printmakers. On my return to Australia I begun my collaborative project with Andrew Smith (Harlech). In 2007 I did a residency at Grindell’s Hut, which met Rob Johnson from Country Arts SA opened. We discussed the project and thus the idea for Le Chéile to come to Australia was born. Le Chéile travelled around South Australia 2009-11. Andrew Smith was able to come to Australia when we launched the start of the touring exhibition in Port Adelaide in conjunction with the annual Celtic Festival.
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