Cover image of the review
Roger Kemp, *Complex Seven*, c. 1974 – 1976, etching on paper, 50.7 x 101.0 cm. Copyright Estate of Roger Kemp, Image courtesy Charles Nodrum Gallery

Roger Kemp: A selection of etchings from the estate

9 Oct 2021
Charles Nodrum Gallery 30 Sep - 23 Oct 2021

It has been said that Roger Kemp would not have been able to make the etchings currently on display at Charles Nodrum Gallery “without the timely establishment of George Baldessin’s print workshop at his studio in Melbourne”. This review is less about an online exhibition where Kemp’s achievements are presented in high-resolution images, and more about peer-to-peer service, or “collaboration”, in the Melbourne art community.

Roger Kemp, Form in Motion, c. 1973 – 1976, etching on paper, 49.8 x 48.8 cm. Copyright Estate of Roger Kemp, Image courtesy Charles Nodrum Gallery

The Winfield Building (now demolished, although the façade remains) stood between Collins Street and Flinders Lane. The first-floor space was originally used by artist John Neeson, who rented it as a studio but was also living there illegally on-and-off. It was tough city-living, with the floor below used as a chicken coop for “500-1,000 chooks”, for sale to nearby restaurants during weekends. In late 1968, when Neeson could no longer afford the rent ($10 a week), his teacher and mentor Baldessin offered to take it over. Baldessin was in his early thirties, and he had developed a system of paying his students from RMIT to assist with his prints on weekends. This informal apprenticeship sprouted a coterie of youthful followers, with Neeson acting as head studio assistant. Neeson retained his workspace and worked in place of paying rent, while Baldessin got the extra hands he needed to make his art.

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