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Issue #1543      18 April 2012

A little gem in the Party office

For many years a picture of clasped hands has hung in the CPA office in Sydney. Recently it was found that it was not a print but a lino cut block which was showing some signs of decay. Award winning print maker Trish Yates was called to bring her expertise to bear.

Trish was excited by the find and showed it to the other print makers in her circle. They all commented on its excellence and insisted its history should be researched and the block preserved. Trish undertook the restoration of the lino cut block and its mounting.

Then the research began. Lino cut prints have often been used as a working class art form as they can depict in a powerful way the emotions present in the struggle for liberation. The most famous Australian print maker of the last century was communist Noel Counihan. The CPA has some prints of his Eureka studies.

The research revealed a most significant and precious gem. The lino cut block was carved by artist Len Gale, a life long Marxist and member of the Socialist Party of Aotearoa (SPA New Zealand). It shows the hands of a pakeha (white Kiwi) and a Maori clasped together in struggle.

It was created during the 1951 New Zealand waterfront lockout when Len was involved as part of the underground media group and was used for banners and placards.

It was given to the CPA during a visit to the party from members of the SPA(NZ) in 2008. The SPA members chose it because the image symbolised the new CPA-SPA relationship.

Len Gale is known in Australia for the artwork he produced for the 100th anniversary of Eureka – reprinted by the CPA for 150th anniversary (2004).

Trish Yates used the block to print three copies of the image. They are hand printed on acid free Japanese kozo paper which means they will not yellow.

Trish mounted and framed the lino cut for the CPA where it sits proudly in a prominent part of the party office. This is a precious piece of working class history and the party is proud to be its owner.

The other two have also been mounted and framed. One is currently a prize in the May Day Guessing Competition 2012.

The Party would like to thank Trish Yates for her advice and generosity.

The prints mounted and framed are worth over $300 each.  

Next article – New Peace Coalition launched

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