Conceived and facilitated by Artek Halpern-Laurence, participants will enter the studio-come-trattoria to create their own etching, watch it be ‘cooked’ by a team of chefs operating the giant spinning wheel of the onsite etching press — and, with the ding of a bell, collect their very own print to take home and enjoy.

On graduation from RMIT in 2016, Halpern-Laurence establishing the print studio Huge Mumma Spice Merchant at Warrandyte, North West of Melbourne. Having studied photography, printmaking and sound, Halpern-Laurence was fascinated by the possibilities of printmaking. As such, he commenced his career producing hand-screenprinted T-shirts and works on paper, which he sold at markets around Melbourne and continues to sell through his website and Instagram.

Huge Mumma Spice Merchant hosts workshops and collaborations that demystify print processes and focus on printmaking’s ability to create connections between people by making art more shareable and accessible. As such, his printmaking practice spans various techniques and experimental methods, including drypoint, stone lithography, risograph, screenprinting and modifying office laser printers, and often incorporates reclaimed and repurposed materials. Since establishing his practice his print portfolio has continued to grow with work being shown at Melbourne Now this year, and the upcoming Print Kitchen along with a good solid exhibiting portfolio.

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Designed to facilitate an understanding of the act of printmaking, while making the artform more accessible to the public, Print Kitchen is already being touted as one of the highlights of the Melbourne Art Book Fair.

As an exhibitor in this year’s Melbourne Now, Halpern-Laurence’s multicoloured screenprint responds to visions of the ‘Metaverse’ and ‘Web3’ of Facebook, which Mark Zuckerberg described as “an embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it.” It’s inspired by a Meta keynote with some memorable sentiments: “we are already living in the Metaverse” and to overcome our “clunky and rudimentary” interactions with this hybrid physical-and-digital reality, we should be using VR headsets.

Halpern-Laurence satirises the techno-utopianism of Silicon Valley, where claims around new technologies either misrepresent pressing real-world concerns or ignore them entirely. His take on the monthly calendar reveals a game of snakes and ladders, including reminders to ‘Breathe! Connect to nature! Work! Walk the dog!’, in parody of the platitudes of productivity culture.

Melbourne Art Book Fair

Huge Mumma

Phoebe Powell

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