Ron McBurnie
Romantic Prints Page 1

 

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The final moment

The final moment

Date: 1987
Medium: Hard ground etching
Plate size: 50x80cms
Edition: 30

 
Full moon over Sandgate

Full moon over Sandgate

Date: 1989
Medium: Hard ground etching and aquatint
Plate size: 31 x 45.1cms
Edition: 30

This etching was made during the recent time of the French nuclear testing in the Pacific. Many Australians including me were alarmed at these events. In this work the composition of the figures interact on the beach in an awkward way under a brooding late afternoon sky.

A strange mushroom like cloud can be viewed behind Magnetic Island, possibly a consequence of some nuclear disaster. As I made this etching I thought these figures to be like insects trapped in amber their last moments of play frozen in time, a record of what it was once like to relax and play on a beach.

 

I always enjoy traveling to Sandgate from Brisbane by train. Sandgate is a quiet suburb close to the sea where time seems to slow down. On the eastern fringe of a tree-lined walkway lies the calm ocean and a small jetty which leads one far enough from land to gaze at the silhouetted islands and the distant flares of refinery chimneys near the mouth of the Brisbane River.

This etching pays homage to British romantic pastoral printmakers from Willam Blake and Samuel Palmer to F.L Griggs and Grahame Sutherland. Each year I make a number of new etchings which relate to my interest in imagery used by these inspirational artists.

     
Burning the leaves

Burning the leaves

Date: 1989
Medium: Hard ground etching
Plate size: 19 x 23.5cms
Edition: 20

 
Under the light of the hill

Under the light of the hill

Date: 1997
Medium: Hard ground etching and aquatint
Plate size: 50 x 59.5cms
Edition: 30

This etching includes an image of a house on the opposite side of the street where I once lived in Townsville. The owners of the house mowed their grass regularly, and when leaves fell on their lawn they would rake them into a neat pile and burn them.

This was the first of a series of etchings which made direct references to the work of the British artist Samuel Palmer and his colleagues (the Ancients).Their work gave me a reason to include atmospheric effects like smoke or clouds in many of my future etchings.

 

Castle Hill is a prominent landmark in the Townsville landscape. On the eastern side facing the sea, the chiseled mass of rock rises almost 1000 feet. Each night, spotlights illuminate the face giving it a primordial appearance. The houses in the etching are typical of a Queensland style of domestic building during the 1930s and 1940s.  Their inhabitants participate in a typical Australian barbecue which  takes place at night to avoid the intense heat of the day.

For most Australians, the word “barbecue” doesn't so much relate to the way the food is cooked as to the idea of being outside with one's friends “cooking the hell out of piece of meat” while having a beer.

     
Court of all desire

Court of all desire

Date: 1991
Medium: Hard ground etching and aquatint
Plate size: 60.6 x 45.3cms
Edition: 30

 
Gone with the wind

Gone with the wind

Date: 1991
Medium: Hard ground etching and aquatint
Plate size: 81 x 50cms
Edition: 30

I lived for a time in a rambling of wooden holiday-style units in Townsville not far from the sea.  From the entrance of my apartment in Essex Court, I could see the illuminated face of Castle Hill through the Alexander palms.  The four women in the image symbolise different female attributes as they have been depicted in other historical images; as mother, lover, intellectual, and goddess.
 
I began this etching at the time the Townsville Wintergarden theatre was being demolished. Both the title and the imagery invoke the nostalgia, the ghosts, and the memories that inhabited the theatre.
     
All night he wrestled

All night he wrestled

Date: 1992
Medium: Hard ground etching and aquatint
Plate size: 27.2x52cms
Edition: 30

 
Eurydice

Eurydice

Date: 1997
Medium: Hard ground etching and roulette
Plate size: 46 x 76.5cms
Edition: 30

This etching was commisioned as one of the members prints for the Print Council of Australia in 1992. In it I made a reference to the biblical Jacob wrestling all night with the angel. In the etching the man is wrestling with his own private suburban turmoils. A dog looks in on his struggle from the front fence.  
The setting for this moonlit etching was the Palmetum, a unique garden in Townsville where many different palm varieties are grown. By the silent pool sits lonely Eurydice waiting forever for the return of Orpheus
     
Trout fishing at Shoreham

Trout fishing at Shoreham

Date: 1995
Medium: Hard ground etching
Plate size: 30 x 30cms
Edition: 20

 
Little forest

Little forest

Date: 2003
Medium: Hard ground etching and roulette
Plate size: 49.5 x 69 cms
Edition:30

This etching was made before I visited Shoreham in the UK. This was the town when Samuel Palmer and his colleagues lived and worked in the early part of the 1820s. Two of my artist friends had stayed in the village. They told me a story of how after several strong ales at a local pub, they tried to catch trout with their hands while wading in the icy river in mid winter. After looking at many of the drawings of Samuel Palmer, I hoped to visualize what the landscape surrounding this small village would have been like when he lived there in 1826.
 
The idea for this etching cam from a story told to me by Ray and June Crooke about their friend and writer George Johnson. The crooks had bought a property in New South Wales called "Little Forrest." They had described its beauty to Johnson but as he was ill he never had the opportunity to visit before he died.

He spoke of it as if it were the ideal place and quoted Horace, by saying that the ideal place to live had an ever flowing stream and a little forest to complete it. After Johnson died Ray and June buried his ashes there in an Arnotts biscuit tin. In that place on the hill overlooking the stream they planted a thousand daffodils.

Tree planting for a new year

Date: 2004
Medium: Hard ground etching
Plate size: 19.7 x 22.6cms
Edition: 60

 
The lines are drawn

The lines are drawn

Date: 2006
Medium: Hard ground etching
Plate size: 59.5 x 66.5cms
Edition: 30

Tree planting for the new year was my way of making a positive statement as I left 2004 and faced the unknown year ahead
 
An assembly of old mango trees near the Ross River became the subject of this etching. As I worked on the copper plate the idea of the walking path along the river changed into a directional device leading the viewer into the image . The male figure seen walking from this world into another has a large figure from William Blake's watercolour, The Red Dragon, tattooed on his back.
 

© Ron McBurnie 2009