Vivien Davimes is a printmaker based in the coastal township of Waiake on Auckland’s Northshore. Her work is inspired by her natural surroundings, in particular the ocean, coastlines, boats, and sea birds which have been a lifelong passion. Her printmaking practice is informed by her background in drawing, pastels, silk painting, acrylics, and watercolours, exploring colour, tone and composition.
Although she had done some relief printmaking at art college in the UK, it wasn’t until she attended a printmaking class with Lisz Bodsworth at the Mairangi Arts Centre that printmaking became her sole focus. The class was an introduction to traditional etching and aquatint techniques using acid baths and a rosin box. Davimes remembers day three of the class as as a defining moment in her practice when she decided etching was all she wanted to do from then on. Reworking the plate by adding and subtracting from its surface was a process that she got almost more enjoyment out of than from the finished print. The tonal results achieved a similar aesthetic to her watercolours.
Switching to linocut and silk screen a few years later was a necessary move toward a less toxic printmaking method as she had developed an intolerance to solvents. Linocut allows her to spend time working on a plate, which she carves as a key block for the image. To add colour, she uses a silk screen, cutting a separate stencil for each colour, with some prints having between twelve to fourteen colours.
Unable to purchase lino during the 2021 lockdown, she had to adapt her printmaking practice, making collagraphs with matting board and foraged plants that she collected during her daily walks. She was delighted to discover that the process of peeling away the cardboard and scouring the surface using different tools achieved a range of interesting tones. The process, like etching, involves working the plate by removing and adding layers and the thickness of the card creates delicate embossing. Once the plate is completed, she covers it with a thin white paint sealer before applying the ink, which takes an average of between five to seven hours for a single A2 size plate. Her editions are therefore variable and small, often made to order.
Seeing the potential for collagraphs to bring out similar qualities of an etching plate, Davimes is continuing to experiment with metallic card and cake plates where the surface can be easily cut, and scratched into using sandpaper and etching tools and polished back when inking. She is planning on teaching a collagraph workshop with the Hibiscus Coast Printmakers, which she is a member of, as well as Rata Printmakers. Being part of these print groups has been a valuable way to share and pick up new ideas to enhance her practice.
Another print series she is developing is utilising her collection of foraged leaves, flowers and seaweed collected on walks and gifted by friends and family over the past year which she has carefully dried, pressed and stored away. She transfers the images of the plants by placing them between two rainbow rolled sheets of plastic and repeats the process to build up layers, turning over and moving the plants between the plates.
She currently has a selection of work showcasing her journey from intaglio etchings to linocut/silk screens to collagraphs at the local East Coast Bays Library in Browns Bay, until 30 June 2022. She also welcomes visitors to see her original prints on display in her home studio.