Jun 14, 2022
On this episode of The Unfinished Print it is with honour, and great pleasure that I am able to present to you, my interview, with British artist Rebecca Salter. We speak on her mokuhanga, her own work and work produced together with the Satō woodblock workshop in Kyōto. We discuss where Rebecca believes mokuhanga has gone since writing her book, Japanese Woodblock Printing (2001), a book which constantly inspires me in my own work. This book helps me to understand, what has felt at times to be such an esoteric and complicated art form, just a little bit more.
Notes: may contain a hyperlink. Simply click on the highlighted word or phrase.
University of West England - once called Bristol Polytechnic, is a public research University located in Bristol, England.
British Museum - is a public museum, located in London, England, and is focused on human history, arts and culture. It was established in 1753.
Kyoto City University of Arts - is a public university of the arts located in Kyōto, Japan, and was established in 1880.
lithography - is a printing process which requires a stone or aluminum plate, and was invented in the 18th Century. More info, here from the Tate.
screen printing - also called, serigraphy, is a method of printing by using stencils and forcing the ink through a screen onto paper, or other fabric. More info, here.
Akira Kurosaki 黒崎彰 (1937-2019) - one of the most influential woodblock print artists of the modern era. His work, while seemingly abstract, moved people with its vibrant colour and powerful composition. He was a teacher and invented the “Disc Baren,” which is a great baren to begin your mokuhanga journey with. At the 2021 Mokuhanga Conference in Nara, Japan there was a tribute exhibit of his life works. Azusa Gallery has a nice selection of his work, here.
intaglio printmaking - is a style of printmaking, the opposite of relief printmaking, where scratches are made with a burin on the plate (copper, zinc, aluminum) and then dipped in acid. Ink and pigment is rubbed on with a brayer, brushes, etc. More info can be found, here.
scrolls - called kakemono 掛物 or emakimono 絵巻物 in Japanese. These scrolls contain many different types of themes and subjects. More info can be found, here.
monoprint - is a print made from a re-printable block, such as wood, or an etched plate. It is usually a one and done type of printing with only one print being made.
blue and white Japanese ceramics - are ceramics made for the Japanese market. Originally imported into Japan in the 17th Century from China, local Japanese ceramists from northern and southern Japan began locally producing ceramics. As trading with the Dutch escalated more porcelain wares were being imported from Europe into the Japanese port of Imari. Imari became the word to describe these types of blue and white ceramics.
Genji Monogatari emaki - is an elaborate scroll produced in 12th Century, Japan. It is based on the famous Tale of Genji, a tale written in the 11th Century and is attributed to Murasaki Shikibu (around 973-1014). You can find images of this scroll, here.
Edo Culture - the Edo Period of Japan (1603-1868) was a period of peace and prosperity for the Japanese military government, or bakufu. Led by the Tokugawa family, Edo period culture flourished in theatre, literature, and the arts. For a fantastic book on the subject please seek out, Edo Culture: Daily Life and Diversions of Urban Japan by Kazuo Nishiyama (trans. Gerald Groemer) and Edo Kabuki in Transition: From the Worlds of the Samurai to the Vengeful Ghost by Satoko Shimazaki.
Edo v. Kyōto Kabuki - kabuki theatre is a bombastic and powerful theatre from Japan. In its long history it has been generally attributed to both Edo (Tōkyō) and Kyōto. Edo kabuki is called aragoto kabuki and Kyōto kabuki is called wagoto kabuki. Aragoto kabuki is generally very loud and external, whereas Kyōto kabuki is more understated and gentle.
Satō woodblock workshop - is a traditional Japanese woodblock production house based in Kyōto, Japan. Here is an article from The Journal of Modern Craft with Rebecca Salter regarding this workshop.
Japanese woodblock of the 1950’s and 1960’s - post-war Japan was growing at an exponential rate, and this was true for the Japanese woodblock print. As the sōsaku-hanga movement began to out last the shin-hanga of the 1920’s in terms of production, where most people could produce prints on their own, American scholars , Oliver Statler (1915-2000), and James Michener (1907-1997), helped catalogue and document the burgeoning Japanese woodblock print movement through their books, The Floating World (1954), by Michener, and Modern Japanese Prints: An Art Reborn (1956) by Statler, for a Western audience. Along with the Western art scene and the 1951 São Paulo Art Biennial, Japanese woodblock prints began to be respected as a stand alone piece of fine art.
kozo paper - is paper made from mulberry bark and is commonly used in woodblock printmaking, and cloth.
Echizen, Fukui - is a city located tin the prefecture of Fukui. The paper produced from this region is kozo, mitsumata, and gampi. More information can be found from the website of Echizen Washi Village.
Mosquito net technique - is a technique in ukiyo-e, and can of course be reproduced by the modern mokuhanga practitioner, where very fine lines are carved on two wood blocks and, when printed together, create the image of slight, thin netting. Rebecca Salter details this technique in her book, Japanese Woodblock Printing (2001)
Yale Center for British Art - located in New Haven, Connecticut, the YCBA is dedicated to British art of all types.
Louise Caan - is a British architect and teacher based in Oxford where she teaches architecture at the Oxford Brookes School of Architecture.
urushi zuri - is a technique which is used in traditional Japanese woodblock and mokuhanga, where pigment is mixed with nikawa (animal glue), and printed to enhance the enjoyment of the print. Usually seen in black hair, or garments represented in the print.
Japanese museums dedicated to Japanese woodblock - if you are visiting Japan and are interested in the Japanese woodblock print you are spoiled for choice. This list is definitely not complete so I would advise doing some research for local museums which may be open in different parts of Japan you may be visiting. This list is a mix of museums dedicated specifically to the woodblock print, or museums dedicated to woodblock print artisans. Finally, check online for larger art museums , galleries, and department stores, in the area that you’re visiting to see whether they are having any shows dedicated to woodblock print artists, genres, etc. while you’re there. I’ve added hyper-links.
The Japan Ukiyo-e Museum - Matsumoto, Nagano
Sumida Hokusai Museum - Ryogoku, Tōkyō
Ōta Memorial Museum of Art - Harajukiu/Omotesando, Tōkyō
Tokaidō Hiroshige Museum - Shizuoka City, Shizuoka
Hokusai Museum - Obuse, Nagano
Kamigata Ukiyo-e Museum - Ōsaka CIty, Ōsaka
Nakagawa Batō Hiroshige Museum - Nakagawa, Tōchigi
Kawanabe Kyōsai Museum - Warabi, Saitama
Naoko Matsubara - is a Japanese/Canadian contemporary artist, and sculptor, who lives and works in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. She has focused much of her artistic life on making mokuhanga and has gained critical acclaim for it. My interview with Naoko Matsubara can be found, here.
Brook Andrew - is an Australian contemporary artist who has shown internationally.
Ukiyo-e Censorship - the military Tokugawa government (bakufu) was not happy about being criticized. Ukiyo-e prints often lampooned authority with their imagery. Other artistic pursuits in Japan at the time, such as kabuki theatre, did the same. In ukiyo-e and Tokugawa history there were “reforms” which the bakufu created in order to stem this type of criticism. The Ehon Taikōki of 1804, which focused on woodblock prints and poetry, and The Tempo Reforms of 1841/42 that focused on actor prints, the manufacturing of woodblock prints, and their price, to name just a few reasons.
William Evertson - is an American woodblock printmaker and sculptor based in Connecticut, USA, who’s themes focus on the politics and process of The United States.
Annie Bissett - is an American mokuhanga printmaker based in Rhode Island, USA. She explores American life, past and present, sexuality, and the esoteric through her prints. My interview with Annie Bissett can be found, here.
Paul Binnie - is a Scottish mokuhanga printmaker and painter, based in San Diego, USA. Having lived and worked in Japan in the 1990’s, studying at the Yoshida atelier while there, Paul has successfully continued to make mokuhanga and his paintings.
Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition - is a summer exhibition held at the Royal Academy in London, England. It is an open submission, one which started in 1769, showcasing all types of artistic mediums.
余韻 - (yoin) - is a Japanese word which means “lingering memory.”
The Lake District - is an area in North West of England which has numerous mountains, lakes, and a National Park. It has been an inspiration for many artists, writers, and actors for years. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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opening and closing credit music - Cut/Copy - Rendevous from the album, I Thought of Numbers (2001)
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