It’s been quite a productive start to the year for me, and I have realised that the artist residency I did in Japan in 2018 is still having quite a profound effect on me two years on – I can feel my work shifting a bit.
Here are a couple of new pieces…
These two new pieces are available to buy as part of the #artistsupportpledge movement on Instagram. If you haven’t heard about it, check it out! It is the brainchild of artist Matthew Burrows . Many artists, myself included, have found themselves without work due to the COVID-19 epidemic – whether it be teaching, technical work, exhibiting, or funded project work. Personally, all the courses I was due to be teaching up until September have been cancelled, and the print workshop where I work as Technician is currently closed. The #artistsupportpledge is an attempt to alleviate some of this mental and financial stress, creating a culture of generosity and support for and between artists.
The concept is a simple one. Artists post images of their work on Instagram, which they are willing to sell for no more than £200 each (not including shipping). Anyone can buy the work and every time an artist reaches £1000 of sales, they pledge to spend £200 on another artist/s work.
Follow me on Instagram: @desforgery
If your interested in buying work, do get in touch: email@example.com
I’m excited to announce my upcoming exhibition at Zillah Bell Gallery, Thirsk, with printmaker Sophie Layton. I’ll be showing recent prints, drawings and artist books.
Private view: Thursday 12th July 2018, 6.30 – 8.30pm – all welcome
Artist talk: Saturday 14th July 2018, 1.30 – 2.30pm
Join me for an informal talk which runs alongside my exhibition at the gallery, (more info here). I will focus on my current practice, my recent residency in Japan, and give a short demonstration of the Japanese Woodblock Printing process, (Mokuhanga).
– bookings through the gallery https://zillahbellgallery.co.uk/workshops/
I’ve been in Japan now for 3 weeks, and so far it’s been fantastic! I started my trip with a couple of days in Tokyo being a tourist, then made my way to the Mi-Lab residence in Fujikawaguchiko to start the artist residency learning ‘Mokuhanga’ (Japanese woodblock printing).
The residence is in a really beautiful spot – near Lake Kawaguchi, overlooked by Mount Fuji (Fujisan!). It’s been cloudy for the last couple of days so he’s been hiding, but when he does pop up it’s as if out of nowhere…turn a corner and suddenly there he is!
The first week was very intensive, being taught all the basics of the Mokuhanga technique by Chihiro Taki – a Japanese printmaker who makes the most beautiful woodblock prints. (I recommend checking out her website: http://www.chihirotaki.com)
To start off we all did a little presentation about ourselves and our work, which was an opportunity to get an insight into each other’s art practice, and an understanding of why we were all there. Taki San then presented some of her work, and seeing her prints in the flesh really blew us all away – such subtle colours and textures. She then gave us a brief history of woodblock printing, and we got straight on with the technical stuff – covering ‘Iruwake’ (colour separation), the ‘kento’ registration system (the best, simplest and easiest way the register prints!), and introducing us to the tools we would be using to carve the plywood blocks – the ‘Hangi-toh’ knife, the ‘Maru-toh’ gouge, and the ‘Kento-nomi’ knife.
Taki San then went on to demonstrate the printing process. The block is inked up with watercolour or guache paints, using ‘Maru-bake’ and ‘Te-bake’ brushes, along with ‘Nori’ (rice paste- very important in the process). The damp paper is placed on the block, (prepared the day before), and a ‘baren’ is used to apply pressure on the back to transfer the ink to the paper. (This mainly happens through absorption – the fibres of the kozo paper ‘drinking’ up the ink from the block.) She also showed us the different effects you can get if you alter the amount of ink, water, nori and pressure used – including ‘gomazuri’ (sesame effect), ‘mokumizuri’ (wood grain effect), and ‘bokashi’ (gradient).
Phew! It’s a lot to take in, but so much fun and a it’s so exciting to be learning something which is so different from the kind of printmaking I am used to. Being here has made me realise that I haven’t had this much time dedicated to learning and creating work since university – 13 years ago!
This is the first post I’ve managed to write since being here, as I’ve been trying to spend as much of my time as possible just sitting at my desk and making….but I will try to post again soon, as It’s a good way of reviewing what I’ve learned.
I’ll leave you with a few images from the last few weeks. Thanks for reading 🙂
P.s. My apologies if I’ve spelled an or the Japanese words wrong!