Eastern States Artist Residencies 2017

I’ve recently recently returned to WA from completing two fruitful residencies in Sydney and Melbourne. The first of the two residencies was at my old school - Moriah College in Sydney. I was fortunate to be fully set up with a spacious studio in a section of a large classroom with the focus on my personal art practice.

I demonstrated to students the entire process of making a work of art from research through design development to a resolved finished artwork. My theme was Biblical fruits and I cut a detailed stencil design - the basis of several artworks that ensued.

I also ran several sessions with students in the Banksia shrubland – where students created the letter ‘shin’ from local native bush and weeds, deepening their awareness of the native vegetation.

Meanwhile, back in the classroom, the senior students were given an extension task to select an ethical Hebrew phrase to write with organic material – exploring the possibilities in ephemeral art. This is a selection of what they came up with...

I spent a couple of weeks in Melbourne at King David School, working with Grade 6 through to Year 12. Once again, combining Hebrew text and symbolism with the natural environment. 

We looked at symbolism of Rosh Hashona to create a range of innovative art cards and the Year 7 Jewish Studies students worked with the theme of identity, through the art of printmaking, the students illuminated the first initial of their Hebrew names.

Here’s a sample of their extraordinary talent….

Sacred Bread Boards

Thanks to a commission from a good friend in Sydney for a Challah Board...I've embarked on a new direction etching my artwork onto bread boards...through a laser etching process. Proving rather popular, I have been blessed with orders for more...the wood is Jarrah from the south west of WA and the inscription is part of the Hebrew Blessing giving 'thanks for the bread of the earth'... 'Hamotzi Lechem Min Ha-Aretz'. This process has inspired me to create a range of designs for the local and global market, including my signature stylization of the Australian Flora...here's a few of the early designs...the wood is from local wood-worker Stuart Kilby.

Hand Printed Cards Now available

My new series of gift cards are now available from the Butter Factory Studios. I have taken my local natural environment as inspiration, particularly the reflections that I admire daily across the Wilson Inlet and the Denmark River.

True to my signature style, I’m representing stylised local flora and fauna, with a brand new development - my little winged visitor - the delightful Blue Wren. Emblematic of Denmark WA – a range of simple, funky linoblock prints – a great souvenir for the intrepid traveller or ideal for locals to pick up a stylish little card and wack it in a nice frame for keepsake!

Supermoon from my jetty

A relaxing sunset with a glass of red as the not so supermoon rises above the distant horizon over the Wilson Inlet…very exciting to show off my backyard bliss to my interstate visitors.

Gondwana Connections


Earlier this year Balijup Farm in Tenterden, WA was the location for two Green Skills’ Eco-Art Retreats and a youth field study trip. The farm hosts a recently fenced off fauna sanctuary, an extensive series of lake systems as well as remnant bushland and land that has been cleared for farming.

At the first retreat there were 23 participants with 3 facilitators from the Butter Factory Studios in Denmark. The program was full from early morning bird-song meditative sessions focusing on sensing place to bush creatures with Robyn Lees, eco-dying with Janine Mcrum and printmaking techniques with Nikki Green.

The second eco-art retreat had a Cultural focus with 3 local Noongar artists in attendance - Cheryl and Caroline Narkle and Joey Williams. Joey Williams facilitated the painting of a large scale canvas, mapping the lakes and the story of Balijup. There were 10 people in attendance – 4 Noongar and 6 non-Indigenous people allowing for intimate sharings of cultural knowledge and custom. Two Butter Factory Artists, Nikki Green and Janine McCrum were also involved in the creative exchange sharing knowledge of eco-dying and printmaking techniques.

The field study trip involved 18 young people from Denmark coming out to learn about the process of film-making through the development of story-boards. This was facilitated by artist and choreographer, Annette Carmichael and musician James Gentle who worked with the young people on creating sound scapes for the film.

The artworks, created at Balijup and in response to these events were showcased inexhibitions at the Butter Factory Studios (Denmark) and the Vancouver Art Centre (Albany) . Over 120 people attended the opening evening with a Welcome to Country, a poetry reading with live musical accompaniment and a film screening – all inspired by the Cultural and Ecological context of Balijup Farm.  

New Work - Melbourne 2014

Whilst in  Melbourne, I had a productive time in my studio at the Jewish Museum, hand printing 'white on white' lino block prints on Japanese rice paper scrolls as well as private commissions for a Blessing for the Home, a pomegranate ketubah and an anniversary gift of love 'Ahava' that was inspired by my digital art prints...I also managed to do a series of work at the Baldessin Press in St Andrews to send back home to Denmark for an exhibition at the Butter Factory Studios, Lightscape...

Letter Land Lore Exhibition and Residency at the JMA

My exhibition Letter Land Lore was opened at the Jewish Museum of Australia on the 3rd of August 2014. I was invited to be the first Artist-in-Residence at the Museum throughout the duration of the exhibition, occupying half of the upstairs gallery as a studio and workshop area...the following photos are a visual narrative of my inspirational journey in Melbourne throughout August, September and October this year. Much gratitude to the Museum staff, friends and family who came along to support me during my visit...Enjoy!

The framed black and white lino block prints are hand printed in a limited edition of 18. I have been exploring the convergence of the mysticism of the Hebrew letters and the healing qualities of the Australian Indigenous plants. The second image is an artist book, where the pages have been hand dyed with colours extracted from plants of the south west of Western Australia. The landscape images in the third photo are a series of words, created in photoshop combining the lino block letters and photographs of Australian landscapes.

Printmaking workshops held at the Jewish Museum with women across the generations - from B'nei Mitzvah onwards...the young women were engaged in creating words and letters using native plant material like seeds, leaves and flowers found in St Kilda Botanical Gardens.

Blossoming in NY

The Australian Botanical Aleph-Bet (Hebrew alphabet) is my latest surge in creativity - a year in development, this series of lino-block prints explores the parallels between the mystic Hebrew letters and the Australian Bush Flower Essences - each image depicts a specific healing quality, reflecting the corresponding letter and the matching flower. One series has been printed on hand-dyed paper using materials from the native bush around the south west of Western Australia, the other series is simply striking in black and white. It is my hope that these images can be used to inspire meditation, contemplation and healing.

Please contact me for prices.

East West: An Exhibition of My Recent Artworks

These photos are from my recent exhibition at the Butter Factory Studios in Denmark, Western Australia. Last year, for those of you who have not been following my bIog, I took the ‘plunge’ and dived into the great unknown, a journey that took me to the crossroads of ancient civilisations in Turkey and Israel and on to the contemporaneous convergence of cultural diversity in New York.

What I found was a treasure, a gem – and not the gold and riches kind! My pilgrimage unearthed my ‘segulah’- the wealth stored in my own levels of being, a force within…I spent time in Tsfat, Israel – the centre of Jewish Mysticism and immersed myself in a week-long retreat in Jewish Spirituality in Connecticut. I printed in studio workshops both in Israel and New York, attending printmaking workshops discovering new printing techniques in solar plate etching.

The artwork that ensued is deeply entrenched in Jewish mysticism, the fundamental structures of sacred geometry and eastern ornament. In my work, I have been exploring the subtle and the sublime through veils of colour and varying the order of my printing plates. The layered effect has become somewhat of a ‘signature style’ – exploring the notion of palimpsest and the build up and erasing of meanings.

The underlying and ‘silent’ essence in all the work is both a conscious and subconscious relationship with mystic sources…embodying the entire process – from the seeds of creation (Bereishit) to the process, and the outcome. The journey has brought me to a place where I am and feel a sense of Oneness. This work is a celebration of my journey and the path toward the unification of self.

I would like to express deep gratitude to my friends at the Butter Factory Studios, who have been so generous and encouraging along every step of the way (pre and post travels). I would also like to acknowledge all the people with whom I have crossed paths with on my recent pilgrimage - friends, family, fellow artists, teachers and mentors - it is your guidance, wisdom, and creativity that has touched me deeply and inspired me to create this work - like water to a plant in desert.

To journey without being changed is to be a nomad.

To change without journeying is to be a chameleon.

To journey and be transformed by the journey is to be a pilgrim.

Mark Nepo