Etching & Aquatint: Free Flowing Experimentation

Paul Machnik and his world-renowned Montreal-based print atelier, Studio PM, began collaborating with the Kinngait Studios artists more than twenty-five years ago. The introduction of the etching and aquatint technique was game changing, rejuvenating the monochromatic etching medium which artists had dabbled with in the early 1960s and again in the 1970s. The difference between the early etchings and Machnik’s etching and aquatint is two-fold: first, Machnik uses steel plates allowing for a more tonal quality than the copper plates which artists had used in the past. Secondly, the addition of hand-applied colour directly onto the plate (à la poupée) gives the prints an unprecedented luminosity.  The introduction of the new technique was also an opportunity for artists like Sheojuk Etidlooie and Kenojuak Ashevak to experiment beyond previously set limits, etching images directly onto the plates and eventually experimenting with hand-painting techniques. This selection of prints from Kinngait (Cape Dorset) represents more than twenty-years of artists working in this medium—from the very first time etching and aquatint was featured in the annual print collection of 1995, to the works of more recent years.