Sam Sosnowski

Sam Sosnowski is a printmaker and artist from the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. He is passionate about printmaking, architecture, design and photography, interests that have seen him exploring the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water using wood lithography or ‘mokulito’.

‘Elemental’ is a series of mokulito prints. Why did you choose this method?
Mokulito is very new and experimental, and I really enjoy this form of printmaking. It was developed in Japan by Ozaku Seishi, a professor of printmaking, only thirty or forty years ago. There’s an energy to the process of working with mokulito that feeds my curiosity. It suits experimentation, which is basically my creative process.

There is an incredible energy and beauty about the natural world that seemed to fit with the power of Mokulito. Working with plywood and ink is a tactile process, too, and this resonates with the experience of being in nature.

Mokulito combines elements of stone lithography and Japanese woodblock, both of which I have worked with previously. While plywood may not have the feel or longevity of lithographic stone, it’s portable, cheaper and, unlike stone lithography, doesn’t require a specialised lithographic press to print on; you can use an etching press, making it more accessible.

Mokulito tends to be either tonal or linear, and while most of my work with mokulito has been monotone, I have recently begun experimenting with colour.

Nature forms the basis for your collection. What is it about natural forms that interests you?
I wanted to understand why I feel strongly about nature and that sense of Animism – the idea that all things have a spirit or soul. So I started reading about the relationship different cultures have to the land. The Balinese, for example, have a strong connection to the elements and leave offerings for good luck, for successful crops, for the health of the family. Australian Aboriginals have a very strong connection to land, and you see this in their art, the tracing of things like contour lines and waterholes. The more I read about this, the more I realise how insensitive we are at the other end of this as Westerners. We’re at screen-digitalis.

I’ve been reading about the English artist, John Wolseley. He travels around remote parts of Australia, going out for months at a time, and does things like puts paint on paper then places it under rocks and lets the earth and the sky impact them. He is interacting with nature in this way, creating a direct connection with the land, whereas I guess I am more of an observer.

I resonate with the colours and the textures. My interest in Animism means I’m probably resonating with something else too. It’s not just rock and water. I initially get an impact from what I see but I’m also investigating what it is that piques my interest.

You share your studio space with your ceramicist wife Jacqui. How does this influence your work?
Jacqui and I bounce ideas off each other a lot. We seem to get on really well, ninety-nine per cent of the time! We’ve lived with each other on farms and been in each other’s face 24/7. That’s a real test of whether you really get on. We tend to be harsh critics of each other’s work – if I’m not sure whether a piece has worked, I can bounce that off her. We’re honest with each other in that regard.

Like my mokulito prints, Jacqui’s ceramics play with chance and volatility through an exploration of processes, resulting in unusual and unexpected results. Our works are unified by their interplay of Fire, Earth and Water.

What has a life of art taught you?
I have learnt that I am very lucky. Some people retire and don’t know what to do with themselves, but I have been given the joy of art. I’ve been lucky to be able to work here and produce art and then jump in the caravan, ending up in beautiful places. It’s all been a bloody good run. It’s brought me a real quality of life. I think anyone who can find what they love doing and can make it their life is really lucky.

This collection of mokulito prints is part of the joint ‘Elemental’ exhibition with Primitive Fired ceramics by Jacqui, at the Northern Rivers Community Gallery.

Elemental: Sam Sosnowski and Jacqui Sosnowski
4 July – 25 August 2019
Northern Rivers Community Gallery, Ballina

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