Six Drypoints in the Conversations with Ghosts Series Now on Display at Art Ex, The Moores Building Fremantle

The Chimes at Midnight Artwork by Shana James
The Chimes at Midnight Artwork by Shana James

This was a great exhibition this weekend at the Moores Building in Fremantle. I now have 6 works in the Conversations with Ghosts Series and it was great to have the series exhibited together. It was only on for one weekend closes Sunday 31st!

Six Drypoints on Display at the Moores
Six Drypoints on Display at the Moores

Pipin Drysdale ceramics in the foreground and my Drypoints on the back wall.

Here is a close up of my work.

with Ghosts Series Artworks by Shana James
The Conversations with Ghosts Series Artworks by Shana James

To read more about this series go to


Why go to Bali to Make Linocuts?

Yesterday a friend asked me, why go to Bali to make linocuts?

I had the idea to run a Linocut Retreat in Bali a couple of years ago after a family holiday. I think there is something to be said for making art away from home. Once you are away from all the distractions of daily living you have time to really immerse yourself. I find I think about things in a different way, get some perspective. When you do a class once a week you allow yourself that time to learn and make. When you have a week of just linocut there is no time wasted in stop and start you can just live in it, which is something that I crave.

Yes but why Bali?

It didn’t have to be Bali I could have chosen many places and perhaps in the future

Rice fields in the Ubud Area
Rice fields in the Ubud Area

I will choose some other places. But I do love Bali especially Ubud, sometimes a place just resonates with you and you want to go back there. The scenery and the tropical landscape are so much more lush and green than Western Australia, (which has its own charm, mind you) but when you are there you really feel like you are a world away.

Then there are the  practical considerations like the fact it is only a 4 hour flight from Perth, eating out is relatively inexpensive and of course Ubud is full of art and culture.

So whether you are new to linocut, or a printmaker with your own ideas of what type of project you would like to explore, this workshop will  be the perfect escape. For more info cost and itinerary go to


Making Linocuts in Bali

Those of you who have been following my blog will know I am running a linocut retreat in Ubud Bali this will be 7 nights in Ubud the artist and cultural centre of Bali immersed in linocut, art and culture.

Plans are coming together there are still places left so book now to avoid missing out.

In October I will be in Ubud to stay at the Arma Resort finalise details and make sure everything runs smoothly. While I am there I will be visiting ceramics, jewelry and paper making studios to find the best places for the excursions we will do on the January retreat.  You can see a full itinerary on the website

The resort we will be staying in is also a gallery, it promises to be a memorable trip.

Arma Museum and Resort, where we will be staying
Arma Museum and Resort, where we will be staying

So far all the people who have booked are from Perth Western Australia like me, but there is no reason why people can come from anywhere in Australia or the world. So if you are able to hop on a plane come and soak up some of the wonderful Ubud atmosphere.  Enjoy the luxury of making art without the distraction of work or commitments. Take your creativity in a new direction and do something for yourself. Beginners welcome.

For more info:

email me: ubudartworkshops@gmail .com

phone me: 0448331519 send a text if there is no answer text me and I will call you back,  often I am unable to answer my phone while I am teaching.

Shana with one of her award winning linocuts
Shana with one of her award winning linocut’s






“Soft Small Voice” Artists Book at Mandorla Art Award up until 27th July 2014

The Mandorla Art Award on at Linton and Kay Gallery. St Georges Tce will be on until this Sunday. The winner was a sculpture by Paul Kaptein. I felt honoured to have my work displayed with such a strong group of artworks. Here is my artist book on display as part of the exhibition till Sunday and has also been chosen to  tour to New Norcia

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You can still vote for the people’s choice.

Information on Media Used for the Book

The covers are made of cardboard painted with encaustic, this is a method of mixing pigment with beeswax which dates back to before ancient Egyptian times. The beeswax coating also preserves the cardboard making it archival. Each page is printed by hand using a drypoint. Drypoint is a printmaking process where the image was scratched into a plate. It was then coated with ink and  carefully wiped back using tissue paper before turning through a hand turned press. To transfer the image onto the paper. The book itself I bound using the Coptic binding method, used by Coptic monks to bind the first Christian texts from scrolls into books in the third century AD.

Information on the Subject

The Mandorla Art Prize chooses a bible passage for artists to respond to this year the theme was Elijah Meets God 1Kings 19:11b-3

In the passage Elijah hears God as a “soft small voice” or “a quiet murmuring” or “the sound of sheer silence” depending on which translation you look at. After Elijah’s long journey fleeing through the desert sleeping in a cave, Elijah hears the voice of God. I found it interesting that God didn’t tell Elijah what to do but instead asks. “What are you doing here?”

This story resonated with me, it wasn’t easy to translate to a visual image and it is interesting to see the diverse ways that artists have depicted this in the exhibition. To me the story was about Elijah’s journey from a place of fear to a place of knowing and it was only in that place of knowing that he could hear Gods voice. Panicking and on the run God did not come to him.

I showed Gods communication through a door in Elijah’s torso. The opening is literally cut into the page revealing the coloured energetic marks of the next page. I had been listening to a Ted Talks on string theory and the matrix of all life being tiny vibrating strings of energy was forefront in my mind when I was making this.

I chose a book to make these ideas physical, each page is a moment frozen in time and space to be “read” at whatever speed the viewer chooses. It is a linear structure you are aware of the pages which have gone before and the future yet to be seen. A book is an object which contains a world within.

Related posts

Artist book by Shana James showing coptic binding
Artist book by Shana James showing coptic binding
Elijah Artists Book Series-02
Encaustic Front Cover of Artists Book by Shana James
Elijah Artists Book Series-06
Second page of Artists book Drypoint Image depicting Elijah Sleeping in the Cave





Linocut Workshop in Ubud Bali

I will be running a linocut workshop in Ubud in January 2015.  The new website is now up and  I am so excited to be offering this trip. I will need to get deposits by October to confirm places and book the hotel. Click here to go to the website.

I have decided to have a maximum of only 12 participants. Twelve people is a good sized group so you can learn from others and see different approaches to the medium, but is small enough that everyone can receive individual attention when they need it.

Rice fields in the Ubud Area
Rice fields in the Ubud Area

Ubud is an inspirational  place,  the landscape and surroundings will provide  many subjects to choose from.

I have chosen the Arma resort for our accommodation and to do the workshop. I will be going up to stay there in October, just to make sure everything will be in place for January. The resort is attached to a museum/gallery, it has a space to run classes from as well as beautiful gardens and traditional Balinese architecture.  See the website for more info and pictures.

Carving Lino of the Ubud Landscape
Carving Lino of the Ubud Landscape

Linocut is a great place to start if you have never done printmaking before. It requires little in special equipment, and besides monoprinting it is the only method which does not require a press to print. The skills you learn can easily be transferred to working at home from the kitchen table. The materials kit provided will have everything you need while you are there and is yours to keep to make subsequent linocuts from home.

The workshop will be suitable for beginners and intermediate students. In the classes I teach at the Fremantle Arts Centre I am used to having students with a variety of backgrounds and experience in the class. For beginners I offer a step by step approach to linocut and for more advanced students I am available to help with decision making and different approaches so you can take your linocut to the next level.

There will be a free day in the middle so you can explore Ubud or go on a tour and take photos to use as subject matter for your next linocut.

Go to for details on cost and an itinerary or email me ubudartworkshops@gmail I am happy to answer any questions you have.

Please share this or forward to a friend who may be interested. Places are limited, so you will need to register your interest soon 🙂


Shortlisted for the Mandorla Art Award

I’ve been so absorbed making an artists’ book for the Mandorla art award and another one for the Fremantle Print Award I haven’t had time to post a Blog!

My good news is I have been shortlisted for the Mandorla ( I haven’t heard from the Freo Print Award yet)

For those who don’t already know the Mandorla Art Award is a Christian art prize that provides a bible passage for artists to respond to. The following is from the Mandorla Website.

“The Mandorla Art Award employs a thematic spiritual inspiration that changes with each

Artists' Book by Shana James for the Mandorla Art Award
Artists’ Book by Shana James for the Mandorla Art Award (Small book shows Coptic Binding)

exhibition. These inspirations are defined by quotations from the Bible and all participating artists are requested to interpret these in their own way. The theme for 2014 is ‘Elijah meets God’, taken from 1Kings 19:11b-13.”

The book I have made responding to the theme, is made from Dry-point images and Encaustic Covers Bound with Coptic binding – a method of book binding that dates back to the 2nd century AD and was used by coptic monks to make the first Christian Texts. If you would like to know more about these techniques click on the links to go to descriptions.

I am so happy to have been short listed for this prestigious award. Here are the exhibition details from the Mandorla Website:

The exhibition will run from 18 to 27 July at Linton and Kay Galleries inthe heart of Perth’s CBD as part of the Winter Arts Festival 2014.  It will show case forty Mandorla Art Award finalists with the acquisitive first prize winner receiving $25,000 and two highly commended prizes winning $5,000.
I will post more images of inside the book when the exhibition is on.

Conversations with Ghosts – Images Inspired by the Music

Last year I went to a concert called Conversations with Ghosts, which was a collaboration by Paul Kelly, James Ledger and about 10 or 15 classical musicians including Genevieve Lacy on recorder.  I had no idea what to expect. (Click here to go to conversations with ghosts YouTube)

Drypoint by Shana James inspired by the Song Bound to Follow
Drypoint by Shana James inspired by the Song Bound to Follow

The music was haunting and full of imagery, I was hooked, I bought the CD and started listening in the car. Some of the lyrics were from famous poetry and some were Paul Kelly’s distinctive story telling. Parts of it were discordant, others melodic – it extended me a bit, but the more I listened, the more I appreciated it. The art I make, has always been narrative, so I guess it’s no surprise that I am attracted to music with such a rich narrative. In the catalogue Paul said, when speaking of the process involved in creating these songs Genevieve’s recorder was “a guide throughout a kind of Ariel.”

“You need a guide in broader country. It can get dangerous out there.”

I am no stranger to the dangers of falling (and failing) during the creative process – or being lost in the desert:)  This music became my guide, a guide to the fantastic visual world of the imagination, introducing me to poetry I wasn’t aware of, transmitting me without fail to the space where pictures are created. I listened to the music over and over, while driving to and from the Fremantle Arts Centre (where I teach art ). At one stage I remember I took the CD out – scared that if I listened too much I would lose the magic and the imagery would disappear before I had time to record it in my sketch book. Lost like a dream which you hopelessly try to recall after it has dissolved in the harsh light of the waking world. I needn’t have worried, the images continued to flow in like water when the space was created.

The other worldliness of these images is perfectly suited to the medium of dry point. A printmaking process where the drawing is scratched into a plate (traditionally metal, now more commonly plastic) and printed intaglio – the same way an etching is printed. This process is labour intensive but quite addictive and totally worth it when you see the rich furry line and the atmospheric results. I have finished 2 so far one is from the song Bound to Follow which you can hear some of on this link. This is one of several pieces I think I will make inspired by the song.   The second is from Sailing to Byzantium  the poem by WB Yeats. The undercurrent of the harp giving the song a circular flow. The momentum  and movement, creating pictures which I seemed to pull out of the air as I listened.

Drypoint by Shana James inspired by Sailing to Byzantium
Drypoint by Shana James inspired by Sailing to Byzantium

I plan to continue the series, based on this music I already have some scribbles in my sketch book. So I’ll post more as they are finished.

You can contact me through my website or leave a comment below.

New Website for Teachers

Many of you will know that this blog links back to my art website by clicking on the gallery page at the top or the link in the sidebar. As well as for my art practise, I now have a another new website just for my Teacher Workshops. it’s called Art Upskill – professional development workshops for teachers.

In Australian primary schools, art has just become a compulsory subject – I was shocked to find out it wasn’t before!

Art teachers in high schools  are expected to know a lot about a broad range of specialty areas – ceramics, painting, screen printing, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, jewelry making, graphic design etc. It’s just not possible to be an expert in all these subject areas.

I think all teachers benefit from increasing knowledge in a particular subject, it gets them out of the classroom for a day and allows them the space to create  interesting and inspiring lessons.

The PD workshops I run are everything from teacher basics – giving teachers basic skills in colour mixing and drawing through to more specialist workshops in non toxic copper etching.

Ink Drawing by Pre-primary student Sienna
Ink Drawing by Pre-primary student Sienna

Here is an excerpt from my new website:

So what are the benefits of a strong visual arts program at school?

What do the visual arts have to offer? Besides skills in drawing or painting, how can visual art lesson benefit students?

Visual literacy – The digital world, is a predominately visual world and visual literacy in this world is an important 21st century skill. In Thomas L Friedman’s book “The World is Flat” he states that aesthetics and creativity are just as important as technical knowledge in the new economy…………read more

All workshops are tailor made to the requirements of the participants. Check out my new website. Let me know what you think.

2013 My Year That Was

Well its been a big year for me in terms of teaching, busy enjoyable and broadening.  I have taught workshops at UWA, Penrhos College and Seton College. More teaching at the Fremantle Arts Centre where we got our new printing studio now with 2 etching presses and 2 adjoining rooms dedicated to printmaking, so if you are thinking of doing a workshop, Fremantle arts Centre now has a much better space. And in addition to all this I taught a semester of intaglio print at Central Tafe. During this time I have met some lovely people and had interesting conversations and  really poured myself into teaching.

I exhibited in some  group shows including Newman College, Guilford Grammar, City of Cockburn Show Off, Gertrude Stein Exhibition and also now have some of my printmaking in the Found shop at the Fremantle arts Centre.

So I am looking forward to spending some more consolidated time in my studio. Currently I’m working on some competition entries for 2014 and a body of work which will at some stage become a solo exhibition. That is all I can say at this stage…… but January for me will be a month of making art, so far I have been working mostly in my sketch book which is how most pieces I make start, I find the process of  coming up with new ideas intoxicating and like many artists I sometimes have to push myself to follow through 🙂 I’ve been in that day dreamy creative space since Christmas and have been surprised how easily I slotted back into it. Here’s to a year of finishing projects and following through on ideas in 2014 – I’ll let you know how it goes.

Wishing you all a happy and creative new year.


What is a Collograph?

There are still a couple of places for my collograph class.  So I thought I would write a description for those who are not familiar with the technique.  The class starts Tuesday15th Oct 2013 9:30 – 12:30 9 weeks for $256

Collograph is a printmaking process where the plate is made from collaged materials on a  cardboard support. Different textures can be glued or varnished onto the plate, things like fabric and lace are commonly used because they print very well.

Inking up a Collograph
Inking up a Collograph

I mostly use glue, acrylic gesso

and carborundum – which is a fine sand used to make sandpaper.

Velevety atmospheric marks are characteristic of the technique.

The plate is inked up intaglio, which is the same process as used for etching.

The artist applies ink to the collograph plate with a squeegee.  Then  gently polishes the surface with tissue paper. This is called wiping back the plate

Wiping Back the ink for CollographWhere the plate is smooth the ink wipes away and where it is textured

the plate holds more of the ink.

The paper is dampened so it will emboss around

the surface texture of the plate.  It is then blotted dry, the paper has been softened but is no longer wet on the surface. The paper is placed on the plate and turned through the etching press.  Here is the resulting print….

Embrace Collograph by Shana James
Embrace Collograph by Shana James

Hope to see you in one of my classes at the Fremantle Arts Centre

The Fringe – a story by Janine Browne

Several blogs ago I posted about a drypoint print I made called My Secret is Out and Janine Browne has written a beautiful piece responding to my work. Every person who looks at an artwork takes their own experience to it, seeing from a different angle. Janine’s insightful writing is an example of this and I really enjoyed reading her interpretation of my work, she actually wrote two pieces which are both below. Janine  has made some beautiful drypoint prints herself and is also book maker whose artwork and books have helped many overcome life’s difficulties, a link to her blog “The Black Dog Project is at the bottom of the page. Her second story called “The Fringe” is my favourite.

‘Coming Home’.

Shana’s art titled, ’My Secret is Out’, for me personally strongly reflects the struggle of ‘fitting in’, of feeling like an outsider, but also the comfort and content of being alone with

"My Sectret is Out" original drypoint print by Shana James
“My Sectret is Out” original drypoint print by Shana James

one’s self – in your own space and world.

People on the ‘outside’ are often viewed, as is their existence there, as inferior, less significant—small.  But this image reinforces for me the relevance (and beauty) of that space. Small and undefined as it may be, it exists, it’s relevant—as are those who dwell within it.

The image also gives rise to the notion that perhaps being an outsider has its own power.  Perhaps there are benefits to living ‘in-between’ worlds—or within a world of your own.  A place from which to quietly observe and reflect on the darkness and then to the bright offerings—and their trappings and confinements.  An advantaged place where you become the watcher—not the one being watched.  A neutral space where the pull of ins and outs, ups and downs dissipates, the loudness quietens—the scream subsides.

And then, when I trace the glow of aura around the cage up through the bird, it feels like there is a lid to this space for leaving and  returning home again.  There’s a great comfort in the movement—the comings and goings.  A place where you are no longer stuck.  You are nestled snugly in your own world.  Your own space.  Your own self.

And this story called, ‘The Fringe’…

Within the aura that surrounds the cage, ‘My Secret is Out’ seems to offer an ‘in-between’.  A visual divide between worlds.  A ‘barely there’ space that exists so temptingly between the spotlight, which can feel cage-like—and the darkness, which can be all consuming.  Both of these spaces, these worlds, strongly influence who we are and how we feel. To be able to escape them, in ‘the fringe’, is deeply consoling.

‘The fringe’ with its lack of definition, makes me wonder if we really need to construct such clearly defined spaces (or zones of safety) within which to be ourselves, live our lives and feel a sense of place.

‘The fringe’, although it seems to have movement, isn’t straining towards the temptations

Detail from "My secret is Out" drypoint by Shana James
Detail from “My secret is Out” drypoint by Shana James

of the highly illuminated world (its trappings and traps), nor is it pushing back hard against the darkness.  It is its simple existence, between spotlight and darkness, that seems to offer an infinite sense of potential.  A realm for drawing from all that surrounds us perhaps, while maintaining an  individual presence.   A place to move and grow in unspecified and unconstructed directions to unexpected, unknown places.  A strong sense of space and place.

The ‘glow’ of the fringe, feels like a power source within itself.  A current of potential, and provider of energy to harness, hold onto and grow it.

The bird seems to also have a place within ’the fringe’, and its presence here seems to be offering a pathway, via its aura, perhaps to another existence— beyond what we see, and know and can ever imagine.

And when you look into the bird’s human eye, your mind opens wider too, and you wonder if it’s symbolic of its own evolutionary journey from the mergence (or clash) of worlds.  Its escape.  And you imagine it’s perched to take your secrets under wing – loosening their grip.  With the release of the secret and the halt of the whisper, hope rises.  Your mind opens to another world, another way—and the bird invites you to travel ….

See more of the Black Dog Project click here

Linocut Wine Labels

Journey Wines Label with Linocut Image by Shana James
Journey Wines Label with Linocut Image by Shana James

This was an interesting project I did last year, but because I was so busy doing the project I didn’t blog about the finished labels. So I’m putting up the images now. These photos were taken by my friend John Rice who is a really good  photographer. I’ve been thinking about the project because I have been drinking the wine- and loving it! (not all at once mind you)

In this project I was Commissioned to make a series of linocuts which told the story of the winemakers life – Damion North of the Jack Russel Wine Company.

Linocut images by Shana James on Wine Labels for Journey Wines.
Linocut images by Shana James on Wine Labels for Journey Wines.

The winemaker is in the Yarra Valley the Graphic Designer (who designed the layout and the text) is in Melbourne and I am in Perth. It all went together without a hitch, even though I had no face to face contact with either. It was a great project, I loved doing it.

If you would like to read the wine makers story (or order the wine)  go to

Linocut image by Shana James depicted on Wine Label for Journey Wines
Linocut image by Shana James depicted on Wine Label for Journey Wines

If you would like to see the older blogs about the making of these linocuts go to

Or about the drawings and the planning stage

And this is from starting out with the commission