Appears inVisual Art and Prints

Alison Alder

Canberra School of Art staff exhibition

1982, screenprint on paper

This poster celebrates the 1982 staff exhibition for the Canberra School of Art. This group of lecturers, with profile portraits featured on the poster, were renowned artists (notably including Mandy Martin).

This staff exhibition series, beginning in 1982, was launched on the completion of Canberra School of Art’s $3 million building development – creating new facilities and a sizeable growth in staff - that marked a new stage in the life of the Canberra School of Art.

Their Bauhaus-inspired ethos celebrated its staff as leading artists who were encouraged to use the state-of-the-art facilities to develop their art practice, holding the belief this exposed students to their innovative creative practice. Likewise, this exhibition featured staff artworks alongside alumnus showing promise as emerging artists.

In the review of this exhibition, Sasha Grishin writes:

There are glowing, textured paintings and prints by Mandy Martin… The two most strongly socially committed artists in the workshop to emerge were Alison Alder and Toni Robertson.

Canberra Times, Thursday 24 June 1982, page 22

Printed at ACME Ink (Gorman House, Braddon)

This work forms part of Mandy Martin’s poster collection that she gifted to Canberra Museum and Gallery in 1998. In her role as Lecturer in the Printmaking Department at the Canberra School of Art, Mandy Martin brought both practical knowledge and an infectious, fearless spirit for making screen-prints to a generation of artists only a few years younger than herself. Battling against a perception that it was a commercial process with application only in community arts, Martin struck initial resistance to the idea that screen-printing was a valid medium to be taught at art school.

With limited employment pathways out of art school, Martin helped facilitate the establishment of ACME Ink through the shifting of her print table to Gorman House in Braddon in 1981. In the cramped conditions of the heritage building Julia Church, Mark Denton, Kath Walters and Alison Alder spent a frenetic few years making posters and prints for causes and events as well as their own creative endeavours. These posters were unleashed on Canberra’s unsuspecting community with its’ carefully planned streets, generating instant attention for a small art community eager to gain visibility and activate change. As commercial galleries were initially reluctant to show their work, this circle of artists contributed to the establishment of Bitumen River Gallery in a car park at the Manuka shops, which continues today as a venue for Canberra Contemporary Art Space. Martin’s print table remains in use at Megalo Print Studio in Kingston.

ACME Ink. had its genesis in the relocation in 1981 of my screenprinting equipment to a separate studio at Gorman House, Braddon ACT. An informal screenprinting cooperative developed; many of its members were graduated students or staff from the Canberra School of Art. The prints they produced addressed social issues and events associated with Canberra…I formed this archive as a personal reference collection.

- Mandy Martin, Donation Statement 1998


76.0 x 51.0 cm

Object number



Visual Art


Canberra Museum and Gallery, donated through Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Mandy Martin 1998