Venice Series (cat. nos E.138–E.150)

In June 2007, Rick Amor travelled to Venice for an artists’ residency program at the Venice Printmaking Studio, organized by Anne Virgo, Director of the Australian Print Workshop (APW). Amor was one of four Melbourne artists invited to go to Venice for three weeks (3–23 June) and to produce a suite of prints inspired by the city. In addition to Amor, the invited artists were Jon Cattapan (b. 1956), Jan Senbergs (b. 1939) and Louise Weaver (b. 1966).

Amor had been in Venice briefly in 1996, and on the eve of his second visit he prepared himself by reading Margaret Plant’s book Venice: Fragile City 1797–1997 (2002), an illuminating, multifaceted history of the city in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The copper plates for the Venice Series were prepared in Melbourne by Rosalind Atkins; they included six plates prepared with a hard ground for etching, five aquatinted plates, and two plates for drypoint. The plates were taken to Venice by Martin King, the APW’s Senior Printer.

Upon arriving in Venice, Amor immediately began to work assiduously, observing, drawing in pencil in two sketchbooks, and painting watercolours on the spot in a third sketchbook. He did not seek out the famous views of the city, but, as is his usual practice, chose subjects close to home, depicting ‘what was around us’. In Venice, ‘what was around us’ meant chiefly what was in the Cannaregio district, where Amor was staying and where the Venice Printmaking Studio is located.

The Venice Series comprises thirteen prints, all but two of which were etched and proofed in Venice; the two exceptions are the Fondamente Nove subjects (cat. nos E.141 and E.149), which were made in Melbourne, from sketches and photographs. Four of the etchings were drawn onto the plate, directly in front of the subject (cat. nos E.139, E.143, E.144 and E.146), and the remaining seven are based on sketchbook drawings.

Having etched a plate, Amor followed the usual procedure of handing it over to the printer, in this case Martin King (who was responsible for proofing the prints at the Venice Printmaking Studio), together with instructions for inking and wiping, and then proofing.

Back in Melbourne, Amor did more work on some of the plates before they were printed. Twelve of the Venice etchings were editioned, being printed in editions of ten impressions each by Rosalind Atkins at the APW. Amor exempted his portrait of Jan Senbergs (cat. no. E.143) from editioning because he was not satisfied with it. On the other hand, cat. nos E.145 and E.150 (Woman pissing, Venice and Barge and San Michele, respectively) were subsequently taken to a second edition, in 2010.

The sequence of the prints in the Venice Series is arbitrary, reflecting neither chronology nor theme; it follows the order in which the prints are listed in Amor’s intaglio record books.