Discontent (2012)

Do you know that next week’s Transit of Venus (when the planet Venus crosses the sun) will be the last in our lifetime? According to the Transit of Venus Australia website,

Transits of Venus occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years with pairs of transits eight years apart separated by gaps of 121½ years and 105½ years. Venus and the Earth are aligned in the same direction out from the Sun about every 584 days (this is called in conjunction), however a transit does not occur each time because Venus’s orbit is usually above or below the Sun in the sky. Since the phenomena was first recognized there have only been six transits of Venus – 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882 and the most recent one in 2004. The 6th June 2012 transit is our last opportunity to observe a transit of Venus, as the next event occurs on 11th December 2117.

I have a friend who thinks about these things, in great depth. Ursula told me that Australia was ‘discovered’ by Captain Cook because he was in southern waters to see the Transit of Venus. She thinks, and I agree, that the transit next week is a good thing to celebrate. So she curated an exhibition, and invited a number of artists to participate, and bless her, she invited me.

TOV poster

Pretty impressive line-up, isn’t it? Here are some more of Ursula’s thoughts on the matter, sent to the artist to entice them into the exhibition:

The Transit of Venus as it is known to us today encapsulates many narratives and images. As well as representing the scientific pursuit of knowledge, in its failures and
accomplishments, it alerts us to the very human longing to find our place in the universe. It resonates with the desires and difficulties of journeying, the aspirations of discovery, and the historical consequences that follow. A silhouette and a bright sun—the Transit of Venus realises the beauty and intrigue of envisioning the unobserved and the unknown.
This exhibition is timed to mark the final Transit of Venus in our lifetimes. The artworks within it may be viewed as a suite of contemporary ‘observations’. They are not direct
observations or scientific illustrations of the kind sought in previous centuries. They are instead oblique and reflective, drawing upon prominent themes that underscore the transit and its implications for Australia rather than literal recordings of the event itself. These themes are enfolded throughout the exhibition as contemporary artistic engagement with: celestial phenomena and the night sky; maritime voyaging and transitional states; James Cook and the enterprise of the Endeavour; and the pursuit of scientific knowledge, instrumentation and mapping.

I decided to make a letterpress broadside, because that’s the kind of girl I am. This time, I wrote the text myself.

Discontent whole

I wanted it to be a little edgy, and it was inspired partly by Cook’s (and other contemporary explorers’) urge to go south. What makes humans want to push away from where they are safe and relatively happy? Why do we want to push others out of their comfort zones? I don’t have any answers, so I just articulated the existence of the urge itself.

The text says:

There comes a time
when the familiar
becomes unbearable
has been shared too often
and there is an overwhelming urge
to set forth
to seek the unknown
to create new

side discontent

The challenge of this print was the diamond format. I spent a lot of time setting the embossed type directly on the pressbed (I don’t have a chase that big). Once that was printed, I then had to chock up a chase with the reading text so that it was at the correct angle. The final result is, I think, a challenge for the eyes in terms of spacing and justification but in a good way. I hope you think so too.


So Discontent will be shown at the ANU School of Art Photospace Gallery from Saturday until the 16th of June. It will also be on sale directly from me after the exhibition.

NEWSFLASH! Discontent has been accepted to hang in the 2012 Fremantle Arts Centre Print Award (supported by Little Creatures Brewing). Hooray!

NEWSFLASH NEWSFLASH! Discontent won the second prize and was also purchased for the collection. Ampersand Duck is very happy 🙂

Discontent (2012)
Letterpress on Fabriano Tiepolo 290gsm paper, 350 x 350mm. Edition of 20.