The Dragonfly Diaries
description: a series of etchings, using various techniques, by Australian artist Christine Porter, that explore the symbolism and beauty of the ubiquitous dragonfly. image: ‘Moondreamer’ 2010 multiplate colour etching 5.8×6.8cm
My friend Di van Dorrsen was adamant that the imagery of the dragonfly was something that would suit the way I made artwork, so I played with the idea for a while. It took a number of years and a number of false starts to begin to see exactly what I was drawing: I hadn’t really paid much attention to these small, fast-moving, brightly-coloured insects before. Once I did; I began to see them everywhere.
It became a technical challenge to represent, in the permanence of zinc and copper, something that seemed as fragile and ephemeral as a dust mote. No single technique matched the subject in ways that others had – such as the photographic processes in the Hadrian’s Wall etchings in 2007. Eventually this body of work was created using many different techniques. It felt as if I was the dragonfly myself flitting about trying everything, until a whole series of images, not just one, resolved themselves suddenly, in a rush.
I researched my muse, discovering its entomological peculiarities – its 30,000 lenses, its wing speed, its pre-historic ancestry. I found how cultures across the world had applied supernatural and symbolic interpretations to its form and habit. How, living as it does, hovering between air and water, it appears to commune with what would drown the rest of us; how its life span includes a dramatic mid life transformation from earthbound to airborne; how some say it would come during the night and sew up the mouths of the ill speaking. It had been informing my culture all along and I’d hardly known it.
Each piece in the suite refers to some part of the dragonfly’s mythology or physicality. The collective title, the dragonfly diaries, relates to its peripatetic habit. It implies a transformative journey recorded on a sun-spun wing tip, the same wing abandoned days later – evidence of the dragonfly’s perilously short, (though, I soon discovered, symbolically imperative) life span.
Christine Porter , Lismore October 2010
Exhibition / Sales
Etchings from this suite have been exhibited at galleries and art exhibitions around the globe. ‘Moondreamer’ was selected as finalist in THE 8TH BRITISH INTERNATIONAL MINIATURE PRINT EXHIBITION which toured the UK 2012-2014.
Contact us to purchase any of the etchings on this page. Prices range from $60 unframed
I saw a flower in my garden
Description: At the same time as the Dragonfly Diaries were being created a small series of similar etchings using a technique Christine developed called a Masked Island Print. This series became about the almost transient nature of the animals and plants in her lush, northern rivers garden.
My garden here in the humid north coast of NSW grows anything. I inherited established trees and shrubbery going back half a century when I moved in: the garden continuing to flower and fruit at apparently random intervals, almost in spite of my own haphazard gardening style. There’s a sort of native Christmas bell in flower now – another of the remnants of old Lismore: I first saw it some years ago, and made notes then for an etching still to be realized.
Meanwhile, my work on other etching series had continued. Completing the dragonfly diaries earlier this year, I was pushing the boundaries of traditional printmaking in order to resolve issues of representation: my usual multi-plate strategies were adequate but something was missing. An “accidental” combination of techniques resulted in a dragonfly image telling a different sort of story than the others had, up until then, thus beginning a new suite of images to explore the idea that was forming: that of change being the indicator of life itself. Around me, in my garden, I see movement: the birds and insects that live here, the blue tongue lizards, the echidna, last week a snake, sometimes a koala. I think about the almost nomadic re-appearance of the Christmas bell and the trees’ seasonal transformation evidence of their constant change and inevitable growth.
In the meditative, constantly moving, stillness that is my garden, I saw a flower. Pausing for a moment before it continues its journey, it turns and I can feel it quietly looking back at me. Christine Porter Lismore, November 2010