Mapping ‘Essence’

Jo lankester exhibition townsville
Jo Lankester's solo exhibition 'Accretion: Mapping the Landscape" is showing at Umbrella Studio until 3 November 2019. IMAGE: 'Cortex - Balding Bay Walking Track III' (Detail) by Jo Lankester

Townsville Printmaker Jo Lankester is currently hosting her first solo exhibition since 2014, presenting Accretion: Mapping the Landscape at Umbrello Studio contemporary art.

Jo said the collection of new works – some of which have been in progress for more than three years – is a recording of the essence of landscapes she’s encountered between Townsville, Magnetic Island, Charters Towers and Weipa.

“They’re not traditional landscapes at all,” said Jo.

“I recently had some work in a show called Pivot in Brisbane and we had to respond to a writer who was writing an essay on the exhibition; she asked us a lot about materiality and how that plays with our work. Through that, I discovered that – even though there are aspects of materiality, looking at texture and surface – my work is more about the immateriality of place.

‘Cortex – 130km West of Townsville II’ by Townsville printmaker Jo Lankester


“They’re not real landscapes, but they’re drawing from aspects within the landscape and they’re about the essence of place. There might be some nostalgia of that place coming in, if I’d been there when I was younger, or it might be an emotional response to that place.”

Jo said she’s spent the last few years developing a process that allows her to connect with her own impression of a landscape, before imbuing that feeling in her work through a series of layers and intuitive markings.

“It’s quite a long process! Sometimes I think [pieces] are finished, but I’ll be working on other works and I realise ‘Oh! I need to put this mark on that print’.

“The process begins with walking in nature or in the bush or going camping or visiting friends; and in that process I’ll take photos of things I’m interested in, whether that’s texture or a composition of colour and line or marks – there’s no real specific thing I’m picking up on, but something’s attracting me. And then sometimes I’ll sketch in-situ or make marks in colour, or record a shape. When I get back to the studio I’ll print out those photos and make them quite a bit larger … and start creating my prints from there.

‘Cortex – Cambium, Weipa II’ is among the piece’s in Jo Lankester’s exhibition, Accretion: Mapping the Landscape

“I often print those in black and white, so I remove myself from the literal. There’s a lot of layering in the printing process and now stitching and collage has come into the work. I’ve sort of realised that has also been referencing longitude and latitude. From where I start to where I finish is quite removed, but there is a process to separate from the starting point so they’re not literal landscapes.”


Jo Lankester’s Accretions: Mapping a Landscape will be on exhibit at Umbrella Studio contemporary art 27 September – 3 November. The gallery is now in its new location next to Mary Who? Bookshop on Flinders Street.

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