31 October 2022

Wagga's Unique State Art Space offers a place for printmakers to create

| Chris Roe
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Woman in store

Elaine Camlin is sharing her love of printmaking through the Unique State Art Space. Photo: Chris Roe.

Elaine Camlin wants her new Unique State Art Space to showcase local talent and to become home to a community of printmakers in Wagga.

“Unique state is a term in printmaking where it’s just one impression of a printing plate,” she says, explaining the philosophy behind the Tompson Street space.

“It also speaks to the notion that everyone is individual and different and we are all original impressions unlike any other.”

Elaine grew up in Wagga and returned with her husband to raise her family here after eight years of studying and working in Canberra.

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After almost a decade supporting local creatives at the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery and a stint with the Art Factory, she decided it was time for a new venture that combined her printmaking and ongoing study of art therapy.

“When I moved back to Wagga, I kind of adapted my practice because of the facilities,” she explains.

“I didn’t have a lot of access to etching acids and those types of things, so I started to introduce more craft processes and things I could do at home.

“But I realised there’s still not a lot of printmaking facilities within town.”

Elaine recognised an opportunity to engage artists with printmaking in an informal way and to create a space with the necessary tools.

“I wanted to show people ways to create prints that aren’t just the experience of printing at high school and actually introducing more experimental ways of creating imagery,” she says.

“I think printmaking is also a really great avenue for therapeutic arts because there’s a bit of a distance because you’re creating a plate or block, then your artwork is inked and printed.

“So there’s all these steps and techniques you can play with and not get so fixated on creating a result in the first stage but to actually be able to move through multiple processes.”

Elaine’s strong vision for the project and her experience in the Wagga arts scene saw her awarded a Riverina Water community grant and she also received the backing of Eastern Riverina Arts.

Their RENEW Wagga project is all about reactivating vacant shopfronts in the CBD to unlock new opportunities for creatives and give them the chance to road test their business ideas.

“As a sole trader, to kind of come in without that additional support would have been really hard,” says Elaine.

“So they have assisted with things like marketing and promotion, they’ve found the space for me and navigated a lot of systems that would have been really tricky and stressful.”

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With the official opening coming up on Saturday 5 November and the final assignment for her Masters in Therapeutic Arts due this week, it’s been a busy start for Elaine’s new venture, but she’s excited about what the future may hold.

“I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life so it doesn’t feel like a job,” she says with a smile.

“It’s just a kind of a part of me.”

You can learn more about Unique State (U/S) on Elaine’s website or call into the new shop at 43 Tompson Street.

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