Peaks and Alleys features a selection of new and recent etchings that depict stormy swells and rising seas alongside some of Wolter’s characteristic urban laneways. The images explore humanities encounters with the natural world and the actions and consequences of these interactions. The Wave of Change series is an emotionally charged and evocative suite of recent etchings by Joel Wolter that presents to us forces of nature contrasted against, at times, small traces and remnants of humanity, as represented by a solitary mast traversing an unrelenting sea, or a haunting island set against rising seas and threatening skies. Initially these images evoke an elusive and mysterious feeling and aesthetic, yet on further inspection they become familiar messages to us that resonate with the intimate changes and challenges we might face in our everyday lives. The waves in these images also rumble with the broader and more consequential changes that will affect the environment and our lives in the not too distant future, such as climate change.
Some of these etchings have been created on recycled sheets of copper plate, showcasing the old marks and wounds in the metal, and using the same techniques that have been utilised by artists for centuries. Using such historically and graphically rich techniques is partly what draws Wolter to the medium of etching. The duteous tasks and processes, the drawing and atmospheric capabilities, and the sometimes unforgiving and mysterious nature of etching has also kept Joel building up his images on the copper plate, sometimes through many etching grounds and proofs, for some 20 years.
In the urban laneways, Wolter explores intimate and gritty spaces that also feel empty, mysterious and lonely. The textures, marks and recordings found on the faces of the buildings and walls of the subjects are analogous to the marks and gestures that are made on the copper plate by the artist. The textual messages present humorous and insightful ponderings on life and the hierarchy and ubiquity of graffiti and advertising. To the artist, the meaning and messages of these texts become interchangeable and equally as important or irrelevant to each other.
*“The sense of the precise moment may be the key to what makes these images compelling. They contain echoes of the awareness of transience, and remind us that it is not just the moment, or the particular, that is passing — ‘But at my back, I always hear Time’s winged chariot, hurrying near’. Ultimately, it is us, as much as the moment suggested by the images; in other words, the images reveal something essential to ourselves.”
* An excerpt from a catalogue essay by Dr Colin Holden on Joel Wolter’s printmaking, 2010.
Joel Wolter is a visual artist residing on the Victorian Surf Coast. Born in Geelong in 1978, Joel holds a BA of Fine Art from the Victorian College of the Arts and has many years of experience as a professional printmaker and as an art educator. Joel is widely exhibited across Australia and his artworks have been selected and represented in many significant exhibitions including the Geelong Acquisitive Print Awards, the Rick Amor Print Prize, the Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize, Print Traditions – Sources of Australian Printmaking and the Fremantle Print Awards to mention a few. Joel also recently was awarded the 2019 Peebles Print Prize at Queenscliff Gallery and Workshop.
Joel’s work is represented in public collections including the Geelong Gallery, the State Library of Victoria, the Parliament of Australia, and the Victorian College of the Arts.