Printmaker to spend leave on Asialink project in West Timor 


Charles Darwin University printmaker Leon Stainer will spend part of his long service leave in January helping artists in West Timor learn new printmaking skills.

Stainer and fellow Darwin artist and papermaker Winsome Jobling have been awarded an Asialink grant to undertake an artistic partnership with the villagers of Buan in West Timor, about an hour from Kupang.

The villagers have an artistic tradition involving weaving for women and carving for men.

Stainer and Jobling were awarded the Asialink funding for their plans to introduce paper and printmaking to the village in an attempt to revitalise their ancient crafts.

The Asialink grant is part of a move to forge closer cultural links between the Northern Territory and East Indonesia. It is a joint project with the Indonesian arts organisation Kelola Foundation, supported by ArtsNT and the Ford Foundation, Jakarta.

The pair will spend two weeks in January with the villagers exploring the resources that will be needed for the project and gaining their confidence. They plan to return for four weeks in June-July to conduct workshops and set up long-term plans for the villagers, who they hope will be able to adapt their skills to commercial purposes.

Among the long-term plans is a collaborative exhibition in Darwin in 2008.

Stainer, who has conducted workshops in Asia in his long career as a printmaker with Northern Editions, says he will be encouraging the local men to transfer their carving skills to appropriate print media such as linocut, collagraph and woodcut.

He says some of the jewellers who work in the village might also be trained to make designs specifically for intaglio printing.

‘Ideally, I would like to eventually set up a functional print workshop in Kupang and train a local artist to operate it independently, or in partnership with myself,’ he says.

Stainer has extensive experience in working with Indigenous and other communities in his role as VTE lecturer at Charles Darwin University. He established Northern Editions print workshops in 1993 and has worked with a wide range of artists to print their works, often traveling to remote communities in the Territory.

Wimsome Jobling has been making paper in Darwin for the last 25 years, experimenting with more than 60 different types of native and exotic plants to produce her materials.

It is envisaged that by the end of the Asialink project the villagers of Buan will be proficient in both printmaking and papermaking so that their works of art can be crafted as a complete village industry.

Jobling says that the women’s knowledge of weaving, using plants for fibre and dye, should translate to the making and decoration of hand-made paper using local materials.

‘Both crafts may provide a sustainable industry for the village of Baun,’ she says.