The James Gleeson oral history collection
James Gleeson interviews Australia's major artists
Dust storm 1965
Print, intaglio. Technique: etching and aquatint, printed in colour.
plate-mark 44.7 h x 30.4 w cm
sheet 63.3 h x 48.1 w cm
James Gleeson: Good. Well, our next one is Dust storm, again an etching, aquatint, four colours, 1965. I think we've got the last one. Is that the last edition? Is it 40 or 110?
Earle Backen: No, it's 110. Well, the story of this one is that I was commissioned by the International Graphic Arts Society of New York to produce an edition of the 100 prints. In the contract was the statement that I could produce 10 extra for my own use.
James Gleeson: I see.
Earle Backen: So that's why the edition was 110, but 100 went to the United States.
James Gleeson: So there were only ever 10?
Earle Backen: There were only 10 here, yes. This is one which I rather liked too, but there again it was similar. There was the free floating forms and then a structure, which in this case was lime basically. The titles, titles with me often come after the event.
James Gleeson: Yes. I know the feeling. It happens to me too.
Earle Backen: But this one was using, again, a limited range of colour. I think if I remember rightly I had a red and a burnt sienna and black, probably some yellow ochre, and then that hook-like shape I kept white. That was deeply embossed. But there again I did the same sort of thing. I had the splashes and the—I must say that also, particularly in the sixties, I was trying to explore all the time. Every plate I did I tried to explore something new, as a technical thing as well.
James Gleeson: These were all done back in Australia after you came back from Hayters?
Earle Backen: Oh, yes, yes.
James Gleeson: What year did you return?
Earle Backen: Nineteen sixty.
James Gleeson: Nineteen sixty. Then you said that you were going—
Earle Backen: Then I went straight to the tech and, well yes, it was about a year or so before I got a press. So probably I was starting to print in about 1961or something, I've forgotten. The tech in those days didn't even teach etching, you know?