Patsy Bush at Work in her Studio (Slideshow might take a minute or two to load)
Most artists have one area of expertise, but Patsy Bush has three. Illustrator, painter and printmaker, Bush’s artistic talents span a range of media and techniques. Her studio, one of six art spaces at Art Is…Studio and Gallery, is packed with fascinating art materials which reflect her original and unusual tastes. Crammed into a wall of shelving are beautiful hand-made and Japanese papers, special printing inks and an assortment of rollers, mediums, scalpels, knives and paints. A stack of canvases balance precariously against a cupboard and an intriguing collection of textured concertina-folded artist books sit nearby, inviting perusal. In pride of place stands an impressive etching press, integral to Bush’s work.
Even as a child, Bush knew she could draw and always loved to sketch the things around her but it wasn’t until she was 40 that she began to follow her artistic leanings by studying art at The Gordon. She has worked as an illustrator for an educational publishing house and has done numerous freelance jobs such as signage for Marine Science, Swan Bay Catchment and Greening Australia. A respected teacher at Sacred Heart, she taught Graphic Communication and Illustration for 15 years. Bush now teaches Printmaking and Digital Imaging at Brougham Art School. She still has a strong interest in graphic design since gaining her Graduate Diploma in Computer Education in 1997. In fact, her enthusiasm for graphic design runs in the family with two of her daughters now graphic designers.
Bush is an illustrator at heart, and printmaking is her passion. She has a real appreciation for the graphic quality of the linocut with its solid blocks of colour and duplication of pattern. Her etching press allows her to do both relief and intaglio printing and she finds it a much easier process than hand printing. Best of all, she can use different techniques and materials to create infinite variations on a theme.
“I love the idea of multiple images which can be manipulated in an endless number of ways,” she says of the printing process. “You can chop them up, tear them up and put them back together. And you can always go back to the original.”
Her artwork is characterised by strong bold lines, clearly defined areas of warm colour and quirky depictions of stylised animals, people, patterns and feelings. Often humorous and upbeat, Bush’s art is an affirmation of life. She conjures imaginary worlds, both playful and thoughtful.
Menagerie, Patsy Bush. It was exhibited earlier this year in the ‘Nature and Beyond – Art is…’
exhibition at the Geelong Gallery. (Photo courtesy Patsy Bush.)
Bush sees her printmaking as an extension of her illustrative work. “Illustration and printmaking lend themselves to each other. It is drawing rather than painting,” she explains. She also likes to explore different materials on which to print, leading to many happy experiments in paper-making. “I am a very economical person and I like to reuse my paper. I like the idea of being able to look at a new print on handmade paper which has been created using torn up prints, and seeing the ghosts of failed prints.”
Bush’s work is informed by several Australian female artists. “In a profession where women are undervalued, I admire both the tenacity and productivity of women such a Jessie Traill’s industrial designs, Rosalind Atkins’ attention to detail, Barbara Hanrahan’s gentle portrayal of humanity, Sally Morgan’s stylised designs and Ida Rentoul Outhwaite’s meticulous line work.” Of all the artists Bush admires, it is Jessie Traill’s etchings of Sydney Harbour Bridge that resonate most strongly with Bush’s love of linear geometry and repeating patterns.
Over the years Bush has simplified and refined her illustrations. She used to create intricate and detailed pen drawings whereas now her work has evolved into more stylised and concentrated compositions. Although primarily a printmaker, Bush also paints canvases and creates collages of her prints and paintings. She was a recent exhibitor in the Shell Art Geelong Region Artists Program at the Geelong Gallery and currently has a few artworks in the Six Painters Painting exhibition at Art Is… Gallery.
You can find out more about Patsy Bush’s artwork at Art Is…Gallery, 64 Little Malop St, Geelong.