The James Gleeson oral history collection
James Gleeson interviews Australia's major artists
Print, intaglio. Technique: etching and aquatint, colour stencil, printed from three magnesium plate
plate-mark 46.8 h x 28.4 w cm
sheet 72.2 h x 49.8 w cm
1 November 1979
Jock Clutterbuck: Yes, yes, they are. They bear some relationship to the sculptures that I was making at the time. They're rather tough looking prints. What I was attempting, from recollection, my ongoing preoccupation with them was to attempt to derive the maximum amount of just plain visual toughness out of the image, without lapsing into any likeability. I mean, that print Thunderbolt is probably a clear example. Now that I look at it now, 10 years later, 11 years later, it's a pretty tough looking print. But the images, you know, the drawings that I do for prints or sculpture that I'm involved in now look rather like that, just as sort of rough. Not so much rough—tough.
James Gleeson: Pared down pictures.
Jock Clutterbuck: Yes. That's right, yes, yes. That's what I was aiming at. I think what I was really trying to do, I think I was really trying to see if I could do away with all of the nice things that were in these prints and still make them work. Because, you know, I think at the back of my mind was the fact that these earlier prints were made whilst I was a student and if I was going to be in this art game then I had to make sure that I was—
James Gleeson: Doing your own thing.
Jock Clutterbuck: Doing my own thing and worthwhile. I think, in retrospect, that was an element in that quality of them.
James Gleeson: I notice in a lot of them you give them titles that seem to refer to some natural form or natural phenomenon.
Jock Clutterbuck: Yes, yes, sure.
James Gleeson: Does this commonly provide you with your starting point?
Jock Clutterbuck: Yes, yes. Still does. It's still there. I'm going back to make some more Thunderbolts.
James Gleeson: Are you?
Jock Clutterbuck: Yes. The Thunderbolt thing, it's an attempt to come to grips and make an image around the sheer unexpectedness of a thunderbolt. That's all. It's something that I still find absolutely enthralling. 1 November 1979 14
James Gleeson: Well, that staccato jagged rhythm that you get there almost gives a sense of the sound of the crack of thunder.
Jock Clutterbuck: Yes, yes.
James Gleeson: So, you know, it works in that conjuring sense very well.
Jock Clutterbuck: Yes.