Aylsa McHugh <em>Sinnsear</em> 2022; photogravure; ed. 1/15. Commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2022<br/>
© Aylsa McHugh. Printed by Silvi Glattauer, Baldessin Studio

Aylsa McHugh

Aylsa McHugh
(b. 1974, Adelaide. Lives and works in Melbourne)

Aylsa McHugh’s collage-centred practice draws on diverse influences, such as architecture, modernism, sculpture, film, fashion and mythology. Recontextualising found imagery from various media, her uncanny assemblages reveal the innate human tendency to find connections, patterns and familiarity in inanimate objects.

The artist’s latest work, commissioned for Melbourne Now, is an extension of her 2020 photogravure series, in which she merged collage and printmaking for the first time. McHugh lifts images from magazines and books, appropriating and combining elements from more than seventeen disparate sources. These heterogeneous materials, which include vintage photographs of hairstyle models and modernist sculptures, become almost unrecognisable in this compelling and unsettling work.

First created as a digital collage, the composite image was then etched on a photopolymer printing plate, inked and printed on to archival cotton paper using a classical manual press at Baldessin Studio in St Andrews, Melbourne. The nineteenth-century photo-mechanical process, which was revived by art photographers in the twentieth century, bestows upon the digital collage new texture and tonal depth. McHugh’s composition, at once disjointed and harmonious, strange and mesmerising, remains open to interpretation.

McHugh has exhibited widely in Australia and across the world, with recent solo shows at Incinerator Gallery (2021) and Rubicon ARI (2019). Since being selected for the 2013 Melbourne Now exhibition, her work has appeared at the Tate Modern (London), Nagoya University (Japan), the Centre for Contemporary Photography (Melbourne) and the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art. Recent awards include the Hero Apartment Building Public Art Commission from the City of Melbourne (2020), the ‘Works on paper prize’ in Brunswick Street Gallery’s Fifty Squared Art Prize (2021) and the People’s Choice Prize at the Noel Counihan Commemorative Art Awards (2021). McHugh was also a finalist for the Waverley Art and Printmaking Prizes, the Geelong Gallery’s Acquisitive Print Awards and the Campbelltown Arts Centre Fisher’s Ghost Art Award. McHugh holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Sculpture) from the Victorian College of the Arts (2002) and is a member of the Melbourne Collage Assembly. Her work is held in private collections locally and internationally.