Japan so far…🍱

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!

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News and Exhibitions!

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Join me at The Hepworth Print Fair

Fri 2nd – Sun 4th March 2018, 10 – 5
Private view Thursday 1st March, 6 – 8pm

The Hepworth Wakefield
Gallery Walk, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF1 5AW
T: +44 (0)1924 247360
E: hello@hepworthwakefield.orgI’m really excited to have a stand at this year’s Hepworth Print Fair. I’ll be showing a selection of recent prints and artist books, along with a new range of greeting cards, available exclusively at the print fair, and afterwards through my Etsy shop. (Sneak Peak HERE). If you haven’t been before I highly recommend it, it’s a great atmosphere and an excellent place to buy original prints and gifts. Hope to see you there!

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New Light Prize Exhibition at Huddersfield Art Gallery

Preview Saturday 10 March 2018 1pm – 3.30pm
Exhibition continues until 2 June 2018

Open Tuesday to Saturday 11am to 4pm
Princess Alexandra Walk, Huddersfield, HD1 2SU
Free EntryMy ‘Peak’ etching starts it’s tour around the UK with the New Light Prize Exhibition, first stop Huddersfield Art Gallery!

It is a chance to see some of the North’s finest artists in one of the North’s finest galleries. From the hyperreal to the purely abstract, from printmaking to sculpture, this high-profile open exhibition celebrates contemporary artists from all corners of the North of England, including the winner of the £10,000 Valeria Sykes Award.

All works will be for sale.
Click Here for Exhibition Catalogue

info@newlight-art.org.uk
www.newlight-art.org.uk
www.kirklees.gov.uk/huddersfieldartgallery

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Coming Soon…

I will soon be setting up a crowdfunding campaign to raise some funds for my upcoming artist residency at MI-LAB in Japan to learn Japanese Woodblock Printing (Mokuhanga). I can’t wait! More details to come. In the meantime, any money I make from sales of work will be going straight into the pot for that.

Lithography Exhibition at Tarpey Gallery

I’m really excited to be showing some new litho work in this group show at Tarpey Gallery in October. The common link is the lithography fellowship at Leicester Print Workshop, which was for me a transformative experience. 

The work I’ll be showing is all based on time spent lurking around Canadian woodland – noticing, observing, reflecting, and being present. 
There will be some fantastic work on show, highlighting the creative possibilities of lithography. 

More info on Tarpey Gallery website: http://tarpeygallery.com/exhibition/a-study-in-stone/


January Print Sale!

I’m having a January sale! To celebrate the New Year you can get 25% off all items in my Etsy shop until 31st January. There are a few colourful collages, prints and artist books in there to brighten up your winter! Head over to my Etsy shop (https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/kathryndesforges) and use the code HAPPYJANUARY25 at the checkout. Happy January all!

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Stone Lithography – Step by Step

I’ve spent some time in the studio at Leicester Print Workshop recently, taking photographs for a basic step-by-step guide to stone lithography. While the photos were meant to be used as still images to illustrate the process, I realised they might look good put together as a little animation sequence – so here it is!


Things are clicking into place…gradually

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted about progress on here. Months have been flying by as if they were days, and now it’s November and I’ve only got a couple of months left of my internship at LPW. My ideas have been gradually developing over the last few months, and I think now are finally beginning to form into new work.

This year, more than ever before, has reminded me how precious time and space is – both to think and to make. Some days I can spend a good few hours intermittently standing and staring at bits of work, thinking about composition, colour, intention, etc. Other days I can be intensely immersed in doing – printing, graining stones, drawing. Both of these sorts of days are essential. Too much thinking, especially with lithography, means that I can think an idea through to an end point, but when I try to replicate it, it can never materialise into what I want it to be. Too much time spent making, and there is never an opportunity to stop, look, and re-evaluate the work.

During the summer I was at a mid-point in the internship – having learnt the basics of the lithography process, It was now time to start thinking about how I could apply these techniques to my own work. I was a bit stuck with this. Everything I’d done so far was just to test out particular techniques or materials, but I wanted the work I made to have more substance to it than that.

At the end of July I spent a few days at the house where my Grandad used to live in Weymouth. It’s a place I used to visit ever since I was a kid, and have fond memories of. The house has remained in my family since my Grandad’s death, but this year it was looking like it was going to be sold. The house was lying empty during the summer, so I went down with a few friends for a few days to make use of it. During that time I realised that this was possibly the last time I would be in the house, and I decided to return a few days later by myself. I didn’t really know why or what for, but it I decided to just take some photographs and do some drawing while I was there. This became almost a process of documentation. The house had hardly changed over the years – it was exactly as I had remembered – all the same furniture as when my Grandad had lived there, even photos of him dotted around. But no bodies. No people. None of the originals. Only memories, all fuelled and prompted by inanimate objects, sitting there just as they had done for so many years. But it wasn’t sad, it actually filled me with a kind of peacefulness which I rarely experience. A sense of time passing, slowly but surely, but also a strange sense of permanence.

I also ended up taking some film footage, which has actually become the basis of the work I am currently making. At around 5 or 6 pm each evening, the sun would bounce off the water in the harbour outside, and come in through the window, creating a constantly moving image on various walls in the house. So I set my camera to record, and sat back and watched. Sometimes the sun went in, and the dancing lights disappeared, then they came back stronger, and then faded away again. Sometimes a boat would pass, agitating the water and making the light move faster and jump around. But the dancing light was always kept within the confines of the windows which it passed through – contained within shadows.

When I got back to work after the break, I was preoccupied by the film footage I’d taken of the dancing shadows, and decided I wanted to incorporate them into my work. So I started to project still images from the footage onto stones, and trace them using rubbing block – a lithographic drawing material which creates very soft, subtle marks and tones.

During the summer I had also been doing quite a lot of drawing, some of it very detailed, and some of it very scribbly and quick. It was whilst I was drawing one day, that I realised I had been contentedly scribbling away for over an hour. All I was doing was filling in a shape with HB pencil. But I loved it. The sense of peacefulness I experienced during this was not dissimilar to that which I’d experienced whilst watching shadows on the walls. A feeling of total immersion in the moment, in the present, the right now. I realised that these scribbles were the physical manifestations of that, and so was the film footage I’d taken. So it seemed right to try to tie these two elements somehow.

It’s all made me realise that time spent researching, practicing, experimenting, documenting, playing, thinking, exploring, is never wasted time.

Below are some image of the work I’ve been doing. I’ve got an exhibition starting on 8th January 2014 – ‘Momentary Permanence – Works in progress’, at the LCB Depot Print Room, so the next couple of months will be busy! Looking forward to it…

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Photo Plate Lithography Workshop at WYPW

A couple of weekends ago I ran the first ever Photo Plate Lithography workshop at West Yorkshire Print Workshop. It was great! It was so lovely to be able to introduce a new technique to the workshop.

It took a good few days of preparation to get everything ready and set up – as always with printmaking the only way to really know whether something will work is just to practice. So I spent some time making some test plates on our exposure unit, eventually coming to the conclusion that a standard exposure time of around 5-6 minutes is sufficient for most images. The plates I ended up ordering for the workshop and to sell in the shop were called ‘Europlate’, and a very nice chap at the company advised me on what would be best for our purposes. I also bought in some developer, which we mix down half and half with water for standard plate developing.

In the workshop we already use the Hawthorn Printmakers stay-open inks for intaglio and relief printing. It says on their website that they are also suitable for lithography, so I thought I would try using this even though I’ve never used them for lithography before. They actually worked well, although they do contain very high amounts of pigment, so it is necessary to extend them quite a bit with their ‘transparent ink’, especially for very detailed images. We printed the plates on our Hunter-Penrose etching press – bumping the pressure up a bit by putting a larger litho plate on the press bed, (as the plates are quite thin), which worked a treat.

We had a full course, and I was really happy to see a lot of familiar faces – members who wanted to learn the technique or had done it years ago and wanted a refresher, and also a some non-members who were completely new to it.

The day was fantastic – so enjoyable to be passing on the skills I’ve been learning at Leicester Print Workshop over the past year! And everyone was so excited by the ideas and possibilities that the technique generated. We’ve already had one member come in and start making plates since the course, and we’ve already got bookings for the next course at WYPW in March next year, here: http://www.wypw.org/shop/photo-plate-lithography-march/

Here are a few photos from the day…

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