'Commentary', a group exhibition by Townsville's Red Rag Press, launches at Umbrella Studio contemporary arts this Friday night.

The final exhibitions of the year at Umbrella Studio contemporary arts will include a collection of printed posters from Townsville’s Red Rag Press, in a series providing a commentary on life in North Queensland.

Commentary features 15 letterpress posters from different local artists, with each showcasing a small insight into its creator’s life or ideals.

Red Rag Press founder Sheree Kinlyside said one reason for the group exhibition was to encourage locals to make use of the press equipment.

“One of the reasons I organised this poster project was because if people don’t come and use the press and the type fonts in my studio, then they’re just sitting out there waiting for me and it seems like a waste,” said Sheree.

“You may ask yourself, ‘why would you go to the effort of doing this when you could create posters quicker on a computer,’ but it’s not the same. You don’t get the embossed imprints, or the unique imperfections on every print – each poster is unique and has its own characteristics.

“There’s an integrity about the creation process that appeals to me – not to say that we’re against computers at all, as one of the posters was almost completely designed digitally and in most cases we do combine the traditional and digital approaches. But there is something about manually arranging the letters, rolling your paper through the press, and uncovering the final product that is really exciting and you just can’t get with digital prints.”

Red Rag Press began as a means for its members to express their views – which is continued through Commentary.

“When we started I wanted to give women a platform to use text and type to say whatever they wanted – but that fell by the wayside when my husband and other men found an interest in it, because the objective was never to exclude anyone. Red Rag is all about being a conduit for opportunity, to say what you want.

“With artwork, you don’t often get the chance to express how you’re feeling in words. Commentary is a rare chance for our artists to make their own comments on social situations. At their core, they are hand-printed posters from North Queensland artists.

“I think people need a didactic or some sort of written anchor to prompt them; art is an important way of starting conversations.”

Catch the launch of Commentary, Montages and Come Closer at Umbrella Studio contemporary arts this Friday from 6pm. The exhibitions will be on display until 16 December, when Umbrella will close for the Christmas break.

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