Michael Smither: Prints is the sixth instalment in filmmaker Tony Hiles’ chronicle of a decade in the life and work of artist Michael Smither.
In a brief prologue Smither explains how indelibly screen-print work was associated with his father, and that he abandoned the medium after his father died. A meeting with screen printer Don Tee eventually brought him back to it, and it’s a medium he relishes for keeping his work affordable and accessible. The remainder of the film is spent in the print shop watching the two of them executing editions of three pieces. One is a small black-on-white piece commemorating Rita Angus; another a colour composition based on an earlier oil painting; the third a new edition of a large earlier screen print, sumptuous stylised tides with rocks and jet-black gulls.
As the two attend to the repetitive and meticulous adjustments of colour and registration, they share their insights and information about the technical process and its evolution – and we observe the understated camaraderie of perfectionists at work.