Seasons of Nature

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A friend recently gave me this Yixing-style teapot with tea bowls, glass water pot and bamboo tray. What a thing of beauty it is. So tiny you can hold the teapot in the palm of your hand.It reminds me of a print I loved from Bristol Museum’s Master of Japanese Prints ‘Life in The City’ (Okita of the Naniwaya teahouse, by Kitagawa Utamaro I) and a reminder that the third exhibition in the series ‘Masters of Japanese Prints: Nature & Seasons’ is only on for a few more weeks. I pack my notepad and camera and set off for the museum.

Spring

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The gallery welcomes me with Spring in full bloom. The walls are abundant with blossoming cherry trees and a fine sprinkle of yellow mountain roses and wisteria. Under the cherry trees people in boats are gazing up at the blossom as petals float down the river. There’s an exchange of poetry and a game of hide and seek. A courtesan is reading a letter. In the grounds of a temple, people are gathered for the annual Cherry Blossom Viewing. 

Summer

In Summer people are celebrating the festivals. Kites and lanterns. Carp streamers for Children’s Day. The meeting of a heavenly weaver and a herdsman. Peonies, Irises and Morning Glory. Summer rain, boats and fishermen on the choppy deep sea.

Autumn

Autumn brings full moons and red maple leaves. Orange persimmons and chrysanthemums. Wild geese, sweetfish and bush clover.

Winter

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As I arrive at winter, one of the prints (Parody of the Ukifune Chapter: Ferry on the Sumida River by Utagawa Hiroshige) reminds me of a song I am working on for my Winter EP. The original poem Falling Snow is by the imagist poet Amy Lowell who was inspired by Japanese prints.  

Falling Snow

The snow whispers around me 

And my wooden clogs 

Leave holes behind me in the snow. 

But no one will pass this way 

Seeking my footsteps, 

And when the temple bell rings again 

They will be covered

By Amy Lowell

A couple of years ago I produced a limited edition of letter-pressed EP covers for my other creative project Red Deer Sleeping. The music from ‘Autumn’ was set to old poems by imagist, victorian and romantic poets. The Winter songs are finally coming together so I will soon be working on another limited edition of letterpress covers for the Winter EP. In the meantime there are plenty of summer festivities to enjoy and as we move closer to September and the nights begin draw in you can listen to ‘Autumn’ songs inspired from poems of Amy Lowell, Adelaide Crapsey, Christina Rossetti and R.L Stevenson.

A Choreography Of Space

“Limination tells you that you are in one spot and it’s not the same as what preceded it or what follows. It’s a way of creating a flow, a progress, like reading a book. As you pass through a gate, you’ve turned the page to a new chapter, and at the following gate, you start on the next chapter. Or, you could think of it as unrolling a hand scroll, turning as you go from one image to the next. It’s a choreography of space.” Alex Kerr - Another Kyoto.”

I love the different processes involved in making a print. Here are some pics of rubbings I made with carbon paper to check the images after carving the keyblocks for In ‘Praise of Saints.’ Top Left: Saint Catherine of Siena. Top Right: Florence Nightingale. Bottom Left: St Veronica. Bottom Right: Saint Catherine of Siena.

I love the different processes involved in making a print. Here are some pics of rubbings I made with carbon paper to check the images after carving the keyblocks for In ‘Praise of Saints.’ Top Left: Saint Catherine of Siena. Top Right: Florence Nightingale. Bottom Left: St Veronica. Bottom Right: Saint Catherine of Siena.

Limination

At the beginning of the year I began working on woodblock prints ‘In Praise of Saints’ after my visits to Queen Alexandra hospital in Portsmouth over the New Year.

While sitting in the hospital chapel I reflect on this new word ‘limination’ coined by Alex Kerr as he explores the concept of Kyoto’s stone paths that lead to the ancient temples. Along the path there are many gates. Each gate is an entry point into a new place, a new chapter and another path that continues to the next gate and the next and the next and so gradually “removes you step by step from the outer world”* making gentle progress towards your final destination; the temple.

This state of being between places and removing oneself from the outer world resonated with my time in the hospital. Watching my mum being rolled through a maze of corridors, from the emergency room, to acute medical, to the recovering wards. Each ward, a gate of entry to the next phase of recovery, with these new places came new nurses and doctors, new sounds and smells, new doses of intravenous therapy. My own perception of time warped and I was in the hospital ward bubble observing the gradual path of recovery and the desire for us all to be closer to the ‘temple’.

St Catherine of Siena & Florence Nightingale

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Emerging Saints

There are twelve stained glass panels of saints in the QA hospital corridor and four inside the chapel. I initially had the idea to make prints of all the saints but I realised once I began the work, and Tony and Glen had asked me to take part in their exhibition, that I needed to scale down the project. I focused my energy on St Catherine of Siena, St Veronica, and Florence Nightingale. I carved two-colour woodblock prints of each saint, ommiting many elements from the original stained glass panels, focusing on the saint’s hands and faces and simplifying each composition. I printed the keyblock with Japanese carbon ink and watercolour for the background. The carved woodblocks were printed on Kitakata Japanese paper which is beautiful in texture but extremely delicate and a challenge to print!

St Veronica

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In Praise of Saints - Shrine

On completion I explored the idea of framing the prints but after a visit to the framers I realise I didn’t want the images to be boxed in behind glass. I wanted to keep the lightness of the prints to evoke the lightness I received from the stained glass panels. Paper lanterns and Japanese sliding doors sprung to my mind.

“The sliding doors of the house itself and the cupnoards are made of paper mounted on a light wooden frame - so light they can be moved with a fingertip.” A Traditional Japanese House Bruno Munari.

I couldn’t work out how they should be displayed until I had a conversation with my friend and creative buddying partner Lilla Duignan. After much discussion about my process she suggested the idea of a shrine. It made complete sense and I set off in search of something that could lightly hold the space for these saints. Thanks to Bristol Reclamation I found a piece that was just the right size for the exhibition and enabled me to create a more reflective three dimensional piece allowing space for contemplation and invitation.

For the exhibition piece the two-colour woodblocks have been printed seperately, the keyblock cut out and placed in front of the pale background to invite a deeper connection.

For the exhibition piece the two-colour woodblocks have been printed seperately, the keyblock cut out and placed in front of the pale background to invite a deeper connection.

Thank you to all of you who came to The Golden Show exhibition at Centrespace Gallery. It was wonderful to see the little notes of gratitude gradually filling the bowl.

A big thank you also to Tony and Glen Eastman for inviting me to take part in celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. It was so lovely to share the space with so many interesting artists.

I have gifted most of these two-colour prints to friends and family who have been an integral part of this journey. I may print more if there is interest so do get in touch.

with thanks to

Tony Eastman

Glen Eastman

Lilla Duignan

Alex Kerr

Shiko Munakata

Junchirō Tanzaki

The Golden Show

Just a little reminder that this Friday 17th May you are invited to The Golden Show private view at Centre Space Gallery from 6pm - 9pm.

Top left: Tony Eastman. Top right: Glen Eastman. Bottom left: Terry Williams. Bottom right: Eleanor Glover.

Top left: Tony Eastman. Top right: Glen Eastman. Bottom left: Terry Williams. Bottom right: Eleanor Glover.

Artists Tony and Glen Eastman will be showing their design projects, sculptures, drawings, paintings, prints and short animated films. The exhibition is to celebrate their 50th Golden Wedding Anniversary. Thirty friends and relatives have been invited to share the gallery space. These artists will be showing prints, ceramics, paintings, photography, sculpture, drawing, jewellery, wood turning, furniture and textiles.

Artists

Tony & Glen Eastman, Eila Goldhahn-Young, Diana Van Loock, David Henderson, Andrew Jelly, Stella Pole, Joe Wilson, Bob Gale, Viv Allbright, Ruth Ander, Ruth Piper, Philip Booth, Dave Pole, Terry Williams, Daphne Hill, Sylvie Duncan, Jan Nesbitt, Martin Reiser, Sarah Penrose, Eleanor Glover, Mog Fry, Philip Walker, Emily Haysom, Onny Thomson, Richard Quarrell, Alex Phillips, Stuart Young, Louis Eastman, Susie Fitzsimmons, Nick Bridson Baker, Dave Morgan-Davis.

Close up of my recent project ‘In Praise of Saints’ woodblock prints and shrine. The piece will also be an invitation for you to make your own small offerings.

Close up of my recent project ‘In Praise of Saints’ woodblock prints and shrine. The piece will also be an invitation for you to make your own small offerings.

The Golden Show

May 12th - 22nd 2019

Artists' PV: Friday 17th May 6 - 9pm

Open daily: 11 - 6pm

 

In Praise of Saints

“There’s a powerful saying that we tell each other stories — sometimes we need a story more than food in order to live. They tell us about who we are, what is possible for us, what we might call upon. They also remind us we’re not alone with whatever faces us and that there are resources, both within us and in the larger world and in the unseen world, that may be cooperating with us in our struggle to find a way to deal with challenges.”

Rachel Naomi Remen - On Being with Krista Tippett

Details of carved woodblock for a collection of woodblock prints ‘In Praise of Saints’. Exhibiting at Centre Space Gallery from May 12th 2019.

Details of carved woodblock for a collection of woodblock prints ‘In Praise of Saints’. Exhibiting at Centre Space Gallery from May 12th 2019.

Onbeing

I carve the curve of a closed eye as I listen to another episode of On Being with Krista Tippett. These podcasts have been my solace in the last few months as I continue to grapple with family illness from afar. Krista hosts a gentle and open hearted space where she invites writers, poets, musicians, artists, philosophers, spiritual teachers, scientists and many more to embark on a conversational journey full of wisdom and inspiration. With Krista’s theologian background she opens up each conversation with the question: “Was there a spiritual or religious background in your childhood?”

Raised in an Irish Catholic family, this has not always been the most welcoming spiritual path for a young girl quietly questioning her own existence and wanting to feel accepted by her family and friends. Over the years I found my own spiritual path through art and music.

Through recent family illness I have been drawn to the iconic imagery that was instilled in the religious teachings of my childhood. In the hospital where my mum spent this New Year after a seizure, I discovered a chapel on the ground floor. I would take time out from the intensity of the hospital ward and find peace in the stillness of this space. A sanctuary. A sanctum. Time to reflect. To relieve the stress. Outside the chapel in the corridor were twelve stained glass panels of saints. I found these a great comfort during my time in the hospital. Partly the familiarity of these iconic images, their story and what they represented but also the aesthetic quality: the details, forms and shapes of colour radiating from these beings of light.

“Beauty is about more rounded, substantial becoming. And I think, when we cross a new threshold, that if we cross worthily, what we do is we heal the patterns of repetition that were in us that had us caught somewhere. And in our crossing, then, we cross onto new ground, where we just don’t repeat what we’ve been through in the last place we were. So I think beauty, in that sense, is about an emerging fullness, a greater sense of grace and elegance, a deeper sense of depth, and also a kind of homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life.”

John O’Donohue - On Being with Krista Tippett.

I began making two colour woodblock prints based on these stained glass panels. Adapting the images for a more reflective inward and meditative quality.

I will be exhibiting a piece of work based around this theme ‘In Praise of Saints’ at The Golden Show at Centre Space Gallery. The piece will combine traditional images of saints and the celebration of contemporary figures who inspire my own spiritual path. (Thank you Lilla Duignan at Seeing Things for our creative buddying space to share, explore and reflect on our creative journeys.) The piece will also be an invitation for people to make their own small offerings.

The Golden Show

Artists Tony and Glen Eastman will be showing their design projects, sculptures, drawings, paintings, prints and short animated films.  The exhibition is to celebrate their 50th Golden Wedding Anniversary. Thirty of their talented friends and relatives have been invited to share the gallery space. These artists will be showing prints, ceramics, paintings, photography, sculpture, drawing, jewellery, wood turning, furniture and textiles.

The Golden Show

Sunday 12th May - Wednesday 22nd May 2019.

Artists Private View: Friday 17th May 6 - 9pm

Open daily: 11 - 6pm

For more details about the exhibition please click the button below for Centre Space Gallery.

Japan Day at Bristol Museum

This month Bristol Museum invited me to run a Japanese Woodblock Printing workshop as part of their Family Fun Japan Day to tie-in with their Masters of Japanese Prints - Life in the City exhibition.

I carved and printed a netsuke frog last March from sketches I made at Bristol Museum archives. Using the same sketch, I simplified the design and transferred the image to woodblocks made from Japanese plywood. I carved 1 key block and 4 colour blocks from the same design in preparation for a multi-colour woodblock print.

Multi-colour Woodblock Prints

In Japan during the Edo period, a Japanese woodblock print required many stages, and highly skilled craftspeople to produce an edition of high quality colour prints. Many blocks were used in the process just for one edition of prints. You can see the 17 stages of a colour woodblock print for a design by Toshusai Sharaku (active 1794-95) currently on show at Bristol Museum's Japanese Prints Exhibition - Life in the City. These reproductions were printed by Nagao workshop in Tokyo around 1985-2017.

Transfering and Carving the key block

Frog design simplified from netsuke frog sketch at Bristol Museum archives. Image for key block transferred and carved into Japanese plywood.

Frog design simplified from netsuke frog sketch at Bristol Museum archives. Image for key block transferred and carved into Japanese plywood.

woodblock Carving Colour blocks and registration

Colour blocks carved and almost ready to test for printing. Waiting for new chisel to arrive to complete the kento registration!

Colour blocks carved and almost ready to test for printing. Waiting for new chisel to arrive to complete the kento registration!

Woodblock Print Colour Test

Inking up the blocks to test out prints for 5 stages of a multi-colour woodblock print using Japanese carbon ink for the key block and gouche for the 4 colour blocks.

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I’ll be posting some pics from the event to my instagram page @eightfivepress so keep an eye out!

Thank you to the wonderful team at Bristol Museum, Kate Newnham, Steve Bradley and special thanks to Natasha, Sally and the volunteers Nezrin, Mabel and Zhang. I couldn’t have done it without your amazing help on the day! : ))

かえる (kaeru) frog

I went into a French restaurant and asked the waiter, 'Have you got frog's legs?' He said, 'Yes,' so I said, 'Well hop into the kitchen and get me a cheese sandwich.'

(Tommy Cooper)

Books

Print/Maker

An Encylopedia of Inspiration now available

I mentioned a few months ago that I was going to be taking part in ‘Printmaker - An Encyclopedia of Inspiration’ by Janine Vangool (Uppercase Magazine). The book is available from Uppercase website, it is also now available in the UK. If you’re in Bristol you can also pick up a copy from Arnofini bookshop.

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