Barry Cleavin, The Hungry Sheep Looks Up III, 1997, etching
Etchings from the Permanent Collection
12 May - 29 July 2018
Etching is a form of intaglio printmaking that dates back to the 16th century. Intaglio printmaking (or gravure) is a process where an image is scored into a metal surface. In the case of etching, that scoring is made with acid. The printing process involves dampened paper being pressed into the scored cavity to pick up ink which has been literally rubbed into the metal plate. In simple terms the process begins with a copper (or sometimes zinc) plate being covered with an acid-resistant emulsion and the artist drawing into the dried emulsion (or ground) so that their lines expose the metal surface beneath. Nitric acid plays a vital role in the traditional etching process and the eventual intensity of the printed image depends on the length of time the exposed lines on the plate have been immersed in an acid bath.
Over the years the Gallery has acquired a number of key works, but more recently a collection of gifted works on paper from John Perry of Helensville has allowed us to explore a broad over-view of the art of etching in New Zealand.