Appears inVisual Art and Prints

Paul Ford

Super Doreen asks: 'dear, do you lack confidence?'

1982, screenprint on paper

The female comic hero ‘Superdoreen’ is a Julia Church creation that doubled as her ‘alter-ego’. First emerging in 1981, ‘Superdoreen’ and her trusted canine companion quickly became iconic serialised muse plastered on London Circuit and the streets of Canberra.

This poster features 'SuperDoreen' in underwear and socks in the form of a paper doll with clothing that might be used to dress her. Superdoreen asks: 'dear, do you lack confidence? modelling a new muse for young women enforcing their self-confidence is fostered through, as Julia Church described ‘girls getting out and being themselves’, as opposed to what is modelled in magazines or popular culture (Julia Church, interview with curators Virginia Rigney and Sita McAlpine, 24 August 2021).

Artist Julia Church recalled her impetus for creating this ‘true myth’ female superhero: People identify very strongly, wishfully with the heroic image. Most of us are brought up with a genius complex “isn’t that person great, I am nothing”. I wanted to talk about that … When you watch TV, especially commercials, they use the things that people like to imagine themselves into. (cited in ‘True Bird Grit’ 1982-3:8)

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


651 x 909 mm

Object number



Visual Art


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