“The unpretentious woodblock of Japan … graven lines on delicate paper which has kissed the colour from carved and variously tinted wooden blocks,” Frank Lloyd Wright, The Japanese Print. An Interpretation, 1912
Barnaby Smith lives and works in Hobart. An artist from childhood, he took a year off from work in 1994 to pursue his interest and started a BA Visual Arts at Canberra School of Art, Australian National University (ANU) majoring in printmaking. At ANU he studied under the late Joerg Schmeisser, intaglio master and Head of Printmaking. In 1996 Joerg encouraged Barnaby to participate in an academic exchange program at Kyoto Seika University, Japan. It was there that he studied Japanese woodblock print and paper making techniques with master printmaker Kurasaki Akira Sensei.
Returning to Australia, Barnaby continued Japanese woodblock techniques as his chosen form for the completion of his degree in 1998 producing a body of large-scale atmospheric works followed in 1999 by solo exhibitions in Canberra and Melbourne of series of variations entitled Spiritual Soft-drive.
In furthering his practice and understanding of this subtle form, Barnaby sought to apply the possibilities of the Japanese woodblock to scenes from the landscape of South Eastern Australia. Images from a road trip, between Canberra and Gawler, SA via the Great Ocean Road and the Hay Plain, formed the basis for a series of works exhibited in a Group Exhibition Viewfinder in Canberra in 2000.
After transferring to Hobart in 2002, art production initially took a back seat for Barnaby to family life and full-time employment. More recently Barnaby has consolidated a new body of work, drawing on the earlier imagery and new scenes from the built and natural environment around Tasmania. A number of these newer works along with a selection of earlier prints were included in the Woodcuts & Light exhibition in Hobart in September 2013.
Barnaby’s works have as a starting point a set of multiple carved woodblocks which register together to form an image when printed using a hand held baren on Chinese or Japanese mulberry fibre papers. A number of the images can be combined together and extended to form series of diptychs or triptychs. Each of the prints of the images is a unique state. In the process of printing the blocks the artist varies the application of pigments (watercolour), binders, water content and brushwork to produce a constantly evolving set of variations on the original image. This is essentially a process of responding to the “moment” of the materials and the emerging image.
Lives and works in Tasmania
1998 BA Visual Arts (Printmaking) (Hons), Canberra School of Art, Australian Nation University
1996 Japan Student Arts Exchange Program, Kyoto Seika University, Kyoto, Japan
1991 Master of Arts (Hons), University of Melbourne, School of History
1986 Bachelor of Arts (Hons), University of Melbourne, German Language and History combined majors
2013 Woodcuts & Light, Baha’i Centre of Learning, Hobart
1999 Spiritual Soft Drive, 69 Smith Street ARI, Melbourne
Spiritual Soft Drive, Leichardt Street Studios
“artspace” (Formerly aGOG) Canberra
2015 Lloyd Rees Art Prize, Colville Gallery, Hobart
2014 Annual Artists Show, Colville Gallery, Hobart
2000 Viewfinder, Spiral Arm Gallery, Canberra
1998 Ex’cita-Graduating Exhibition, Canberra School of Art ANU, Canberra
1996 Multiple Visions, ANCA Gallery, Canberra
Works in private collections