Always at the edge of technology, Peter Clark – who died this week aged 76 – would tell how he coated litho plates with a mixture of egg whites, ammonia dichromate and gum arabic.
It was a favourite story from a man who pioneered printing and packaging processes in Australia, and went on to bring the country’s disparate industry organisations together.
Clark, who retired ten years ago from AIW, the heatset web printing business he created, and most recently took on the presidency of the Printing and Visual Communications Association, facilitating its merger with the Real Media Collective. He had been recently inducted into the industry honour roll.
It’s now 60 years since he had left high school in Clarence for a litho apprenticeship at Cox Kay, from which he emerged five years later with certificates in printing and platemaking and an ambition which saw him buy his own business at 27, soon selling it to head to the mainland.
At Smorgon’s Cargo Nupack Display Packaging, Clark helped pioneer the use of recycled paper to make liner board, while at Visy he helped establish a recycling mill pilot he recalled as a “huge success”.
The introduction to heatset web came with News Limited, following the commercial print division as PMP with roles in New Zealand, NSW and finally Victoria, before he formed AIW Printing in 2000 with a group of colleagues and the backing of a major press manufacturer. In 2008, the company installed an 80-page Goss Sunday 4000, one of the world’s largest heatset presses. A partnership with Norske Skog also saw the development of a lightweight paper in Tasmania.
Within the industry, he served on the boards of Printing Industries (now the PVCA), PrintEx 19, Media Super and PacPrint 2022. He was also a director of Graphic Innovators Australasia, involved with global integration of inkjet print technology with offset.
My own most recent contact with him was when we were both technical judges of the then ‘newspaper of the year’ competition.
Peter Clark, who died of pancreatic cancer after a short illness, will be remembered for his drive, ambition and understanding, and for what he put back into the industry he loved.