on becoming a printmaker
Mona Ryder’s work had been included in a 1975 painting exhibition Robin Hood Prize in Sydney and in the 1976 Young Brisbane Artists. She wanted, however, to improve her painting skills and learn something new – that ‘something new’ was sculpture and applied for the Associate Diploma course at Kelvin Grove Teacher’s Training College (now QUT). She was ecstatic to have been accepted into the course, as she was feeling isolated as an artist. The course could be taken part-time, which suited the mother of young children.
When the lecturers saw the artist’s folio of paintings and drawings, they decided she should be enrolled in painting and printmaking and not in sculpture. The decision was distressing, as she thought printmaking was very rigid but decided learning anything new was going to be a positive challenge.
Her printmaking teachers, Margaret Lock from Canada, and Brian Dean from England and Australia, brought the medium both historically and technically alive for Ryder. She was soon scouring books to learn and became totally obsessed with the medium. She had incredible energy, staying up until one or two o’clock or even later to work on prints.
This was an intense period for the artist; after graduating, she accepted some part-time teaching in the Associate Diploma and through this was learning even more, especially about herself. Ryder came to realise her strength – she had indeed decided that she was going to make sculpture, so the prints and plates were used in these works. She had ticked all the boxes.
The artist bought a large etching press and set up her print studio. With many relocations, however, the etching press did not make all the moves and was finally left in storage until recently.