Screenprinted poster advertising the 1981 protest march has respectable looking older women raising not so respectable fists with speech bubbles proclaiming “In memory of ‘women’ of all countries raped in all wars”; “Come and join us in our non-violent march” commemorating the rape of women in war. The non-violent protest held on ANZAC Day 1981 was met by approximately 70 policemen who proceeded to arrest more than 60 women as the remaining 200 deep march continued onto the Australian War Memorial. This iconic poster and landmark event are reflective of Canberra’s then cutting edge role in the political feminism movement in Australia. BRG opened in April 1981, in the same month of this protest march.
Alison Alder recalls: We were really impressed by the work that was happening there [poster workshops in Sydney] and decided when we got back to Canberra we would try to get some good posters up on the walls here. We offered our services to Women Against Rape and my poster-making really started from there… The first Anzac Day poster – that is a newspaper photograph. I keep a scrapbook of any pictures that I find that I think are interesting plus I use places like the National Library. (cited in True Bird Grit 1982-3:14)
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
471 x 591 mm
Canberra Museum and Gallery, donated through Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Mandy Martin 1998