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The Unfinished Print

Feb 25, 2022

The works of Adrian Holmes play between the traditional and the contemporary. His mokuhanga explores colour, and form in new and interesting ways. 

On this episode of The Unfinished Print I speak to woodblock printmaker Adrian Holmes about  his work, his process, how teaching affects how he sees mokuhanga, how he balances between his “shin-hanga” and “sōsaku hanga” prints, and we discuss the collaboration system of Japanese woodblock prints and whether there is still merit in the process within the contemporary world. 

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Notes: may contain a hyperlink. Simply click on the highlighted word or phrase.

Adrian Holmes - website, Instagram

Tochigi, Prefecture, Japan - Is a prefecture in Japan and is considered the “gateway to the North” of Japan. The capital is Tochigi City. Famous for it’s Tokugawa mausoleum in the mountain city of Nikkō, and the beauty of the region in all seasons. tourism website 

dentōteki 伝統的- is the process of traditional Japanese woodblock printmaking produced by the collaboration system of publisher, designer, carver, and printer.

sōsaku hanga - the creative print, is a style of mokuhanga which is where the artist produces, designs, carves, and prints the prints themselves. It is also a period of woodblock printing in Japan attributed to the early 20th Century. 

Kiyoshi Saitō (1907-1997) - a creative printmaker (sōsaku hanga) for over sixty years. Saitō’s work’s covered theatre, museum studies, cats, and women. A fantastic book came out in 2021 called, Graphic Awakening published by The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, and can be found, here. It was based on the show held from Mar 14, 2021 – Aug 15, 2021

Ōta Memorial Museum of Art - located in the Ōmotesando area of Tōkyō, near Harajuku. It is a woodblock print museum which has rotating shows throughout the year. They also offer a grant for the research of ukiyo-e. website, is in English and Japanese.

Wood Like Matsumura - is an online and brick and mortar store, for woodblock printmaking, located in Nerima City, Tōkyō. website.

Asaka Motoharu - is a woodblock printmaker located in Tōkyō. He takes apprentices, such as Taran Casey (Gingko Hanga) from the UK and teaches at home and around the world. website, Instagram.

Cornwall, England - located in the most Southern part of England. Famous for its beaches and natural beauty. Tourist website, here. 

Yoshida Family of Artists - The Yoshida’s are one of the most famous family of artists from Japan. Begun with painter Yoshida Kasaburō (1861-1894), made famous by Yoshida Hiroshi (1876-1950) and his work with woodblock printing. The Yoshida family has helped shape many artists around the world. More info from the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, here.

Kawase Hasui - (1883 - 1957) was a woodblock print designer who worked within the burgeoning shin-hanga movement in early 20th Century Japan. Hasui designed landscapes, and women, and was very involved in how his designs were printed. More info, here. 

David Bull - is a Canadian woodblock printmaker, and educator who lives and works in Japan. His love of mokuhanga has almost singlehandedly promoted the art form around the world. His company, Mokuhankan, has a brick and mortar store in Asakusa, Tōkyō, and online, here. 

mashiko pottery: is a red-brown clay style of pottery which was revived by Shōji Hamada (1894-1978) in the 1920’s. More info, here. 

Bernard Leach - (1887-1979) was a British potter who, with Shōji Hamada, founded Leach pottery in St. Ives, UK. Born in Hong Kong, Leach lived in Japan as a child and then in the early 20th Century.  It was in Japan where Leach studied pottery with Urano Shigekichi (1881-1923). More info, here. 

St Ives School of Painting, Cornwall - is a school located in St. Ives Cornwall, England. Adrian Holmes teaches woodblock printmaking at this school. More info, here. 

nori  - is a paste, traditionally made of rice starch, or tapioca starch, or corn starch  and water., It acts as a binder between the pigment and the paper by giving body to the colour.

ōbokashi - or, “wide gradation” is a large bokashi, where the pigment and the water intertwine ,creating a soft blending of the water and colour. Famously made in sky gradations by prints designed by Hiroshige (1797-1858)

Holbein - is a Japanese/Canadian/American company which focuses on artist pigments. website 

nezumi ban - or, “grey block” is used to give depth to the colour used over the grey block. More info from Yoshida’s book, here.

colour theory - encompasses the colour wheel, harmony, and what is useful. It is a way of seeing colour and how it transfers to your work. More info, here.

print sizes - there are various sizes when making woodblock prints. In Japanese woodblock printing the most standard of sizes are as follows:

aiban - 9x13”  22.5x34.5cm

chūban - 7.5x10”  19x25.5cm

dai ōban - 13.75x18.25”  34.5x45.5cm

more info can be found, here.

surimono - is a privately commissioned print where, because money tended to be no object, many high end techniques and pigments were used. Their size tended to be 20.5x18.5cm.

Paul Binnie - is a Scottish born artist who works in oils and woodblock. Studying in the Yoshida atelier in the 1990’s, Paul continues to make work from his home studio in San Diego, California. catalogue of prints

natsukashii - is a Japanese word, generally meaning “nostalgia." An interesting BBC article about the word can be found, here

Masami Teraoka - is a Japanese born artist who has worked in various media, including screen printing, woodblock printmaking, water colour, and oils. His work has incorporated ukiyo-e  themes and tropes, lampooning society. More info, here. He currently lives in the United States. website

butsudan - is a Buddhist shrine usually found in Japanese homes and temples. They tend to be large and extravagant, paying respect to the dead, more info, here

kotatsu - is a low table, electrically heated by an internal heater underneath the table itself, more info, here

opening and closing credit music - Holy Mountain by SLEEP (1993)

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***The opinions expressed by guests in The Unfinished Print podcast are not necessarily those of André Zadorozny and of Popular Wheat Productions.***