Judith Nangala Crispin
Updated: Aug 10, 2020
Mixed Media Artist
"My name is Judith Nangala Crispin and I am a poet and visual artist, working primarily at the intersection of printmaking, drawing and photography.
I call my process Lumachrome Glass Printing, which is a term I've invented. It is a combination of antiquated cameraless photography techniques, lumen printing, chemigram and cliché-verre, together with drawing. Images on the page are generated, quite literally, from light, earth and flesh. It is light alone that manifests these colours and shapes- not paint or anything that can be completely controlled.
I began working this way while searching for my family’s lost Aboriginal ancestry. A group of Warlpiri law women, all painters, in the Tanami Desert took pity on me - seeing me not as someone who belonged to white and black cultures, but as someone who belonged to neither - and they to me spoke often about 'Kurruwari', patterns in the landscape. Country talks to us through Kurruwari, the way wind shapes the desert to look like water, the constellations as maps of sacred sites on the ground. When women paint their bodies for ceremony, it is Kurruwari - their way of speaking to Country - a shared language. These Lumachromes are my response to the idea of Kurruwari. Every print I make reconfirms my commitment to share language with Country - gradually, little by little, that connection strengthens. These works are deeply rooted in the idea of a shared language with Country - not an inherited language, gained through DNA or lineage, and not something theorized by scholars. I am not speaking, in these works, about identity or the politics that surround that issue, instead I am trying to say something about the possibility, for everyone, of forging a genuine personal connection with the landscape, with the ground they walk on.
To make these images I arrange blood, clay, sticks, leaves, seeds, resin, ochres, etc., with road-killed animals or birds, on light-sensitised paper. Exposed 24 to 50 hours, while the sun arches east to west, fibre papers produce surprising arrays of colour. Over this I layer cliché-verre plates coated with resists of wax or paint, scratched with wire to create lines. Sometimes I run electric currents over these plates to produce crystals in the ochre. For finer detail, I use chemigram variants, painting compounds like selenium or copper chloride directly onto feathers, scales or fur. My process is different, adaptive, for each print. If an animal is still bleeding, I paint its blood into the image during exposure. Ochres, seeds, sticks, and other materials, are sourced where the animal or bird was found. If insects come, their tracks are incorporated into the work. I use any medium at hand to emphasise detail - eyeliner, mud, vegemite, crayons, whatever is around. When the print is complete, the creatures are respectfully buried. "
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