Masters of Japanese Prints - Life In The City - Bristol Museum

Kate Newnham has curated another stunning set of Japanese woodblock prints for the latest exhibiton ‘Masters of Japanese Prints: Life In The City’ at Bristol Museum.

I arrive early to the museum on the day of opening and already there’s steady stream of people who have been transported into 18th Century Japan - a corridor abundant with tatami mats and sliding doors, scroll paintings and ikebana, 3 stringed lutes and tea ceremonies, calligraphy and poetry, parasols and lanterns, music and dancing. A rich world of theatre, fashion and festivals, temples and shrines.

3.JapanesePrintsBristolMuseumLifeInTheCityx4.jpg

I study a print by Kitagawa Utamaro ‘Fishing Boats with Nets under Ryogoku Bridge 1790.’ A young man next to me also absorbed in the detail turns to me with a look of amazement and starts the conversation. We look at a print together, in awe of the craftspeople who have been involved in the making of this scene. How is it possible to carve and print such fine and intricate works of art? The complex textile patterns on the kimonos, the fine string on the fishing nets, the delicate outlines of the waves, the distant crowd of people on the bridge under parasols, so tiny yet such clarity and attention to detail. We stand in wonderment for a few minutes and then slowly go our separate ways to explore further curiosities of this Floating World.

Eating and Drinking 

Being a lover of green tea and music I am drawn to the festive Eating and Drinking prints of Katsukawa Shunshō, Kubo Shunman. I zoom in on a woman playing a Shamisen on a tea house balcony. She is surrounded by little bowls and cups filled with sake and a lacquer box which may contain sushi or green tea powder. This is just a small detail of the print. A couple of women to the right are holding a book but seem to be more interested in what is going on at the other side of the balcony. 

8.JapanesePrintsLifeInTheCityBristolMuseumx4.jpg

Women of the ‘pleasure districts’ 

On the oppostie side of the corridor are prints of Geisha and courtesans. Again the photos here are closeup snapshots from a bigger story. These prints remind me of a poem by Amy Lowell. 

Yoshiwara Lament

Golden peacocks

Under blossoming cherry-trees,

But on all the wide sea

There is no boat.

Kabuki Theatre 

On the opposite side of the corridor a long row of prints depicting actors from Kabuki theatre. I take a few closeup shots of actors by Katsukawa Shunsho. Woodblock prints of actors were popular souvenirs from the Kabuki theatres and I am taken back to my teens with posters of celebrities blue-tacked to my wall. I would come home after a concert wearing a new t.shirt printed with the band’s logo or portrait.


The detail of the crowd in the lower right corner shows an audience at the theatre. This is a small section from a large scale woodblock print in the exhibition. It’s made up of four prints. At the top, we are given a glimpse backstage with the actors ready to go on stage, then the main stage with the actors playing their parts, the next part shows the audience and staff selling refreshments and below that are people hanging out on the street outside the theatre.

When I was 16 my first work experience was helping the sound engineer at a local theatre. I could sit up in the sound booth or at the back of the theatre while the actors rehearsed their parts. I was introduced to all the different elements that make this make believe world come alive. I explored the whole place from backstage, on stage, trying out different seats in the auditorium, to running back and forth between the theatre and the cafe delivering messages or drinks. I was fascinated with how it all worked and this print is a brilliant insight to the different aspects of a theatre and the people who make this remarkable enchanting world.     

“This set of four prints shows the interior and exterior of the Imchimura theatre, one of the main theatres licensed by the government in Edo (Tokyo).” Bristol Museum (On loan from Kimono Kimono). 

There are so many beautiful prints to explore here that one viewing is not enough. I’ll be back again to stop a little longer. To look a little closer. To step back into this hypnotic magical floating world of 18th Century Japan.

Kate Newnham will be giving a lunchtime talk about the exhibition at Bristol Museum Thursday 7th February from 1.15pm - 2pm.

An Enyclopedia of Inspiration coming soon!

PRINTMAKER COVER FINAL.jpg
This 368-page book features profiles of 48 designers, artists, artisans and entrepreneurs who make things with print.
— Janine Vangool

Print/Maker

Uppercase magazine’s founder, publisher, editor and designer Janine Vangool launches the next volume from her Encyclopedia of Inspiration - Print/Maker. I am thrilled to be a part of this volume which will be available this month.

I discovered Janine Vangool’s magazine, Uppercase in 2012, the same year I bought my Adana 8 x 5 printing press. It was Uppercase issue 12. A beautifully designed magazine full of inspirational articles from the ephemera of newsprint, artist’s sketchbooks, creative explorations with maps, Japanese papermaking, a celebration of vintage cameras to sailing the Arctic Circle and letterpress printing from a campervan! I was hooked! As I was beginning my own printmaking journey, Uppercase opened a door to a world of possibility and adventure, fantastic resources and a connection to artists from many parts of the globe.

So it’s really lovely to be invited by Janine to take part in the next volume for The Encyclopedia of Inspiration - Print/Maker. Like Uppercase it will be packed with a colourful eclectic mix of playful and creative printing explorations. I look forward to getting my copy and I hope you are inspired to get one too!

PrintMakerUppercase.jpg
Each dust jacket can be folded to reveal one of four different designs. You can easily refold it to display your favourite. Dust jackets can be used for your own creative purposes as well, like wrapping gifts, collage, or perhaps as a cover for a sketchbook or journal.
— Janine Vangool
backcover.jpg

Designers Artists Artisans Entrepreneurs

The 48 artists featuring in Print/Maker include Amada Press, Angie Lewn, Baltimore Print Studios, Blackbird Letterpress, Brad Vetter Design, Brooklyn Haberdashery, Cabinpress Studio, Catherine Ruddell, Cathy Terepoki Ceramics, Chasing Paper, Clawhammer Press, Egg Press, Eightfivepress, Feast Letterpress, Fiona Wilson Prints, Gotamago, GTO Printers, Inkello Letterpress, Inkwell Originals, Jeanne McGee, Katharine Watson, Laura Spring, Moglea, Notely, Nourishing Notes, Orozco, Papirmas, Patrick Edgeley, Pressing Matters, Prints & Press, Public-Supply, Red Cap Cards, Risotto, Ruth Hickson, Shorthand, Snap + Tumble, Spark Box Studio, Star Shaped Press, Sugar Paper, The Inkery, The Open Press Project, The Printed Peanut, The Regional Assembly of Text, Virgin Wood Type, WMS & Co., Yao Cheng Design and Yetunde Rodriguez Design.

You can pre-order Print/Maker from Uppercase website by clicking on the button below.

The next three volumes from The Encyclopedia of Inspiration include Ephemera, Vintage Life and Quilted.

The UPPERCASE Encyclopedia of Inspiration (Pre-Order Next 4 Volumes)

Check out more of Janine Vangool’s publications including:

The Typewriter: A Graphic History of the Beloved Machine

The UPPERCASE Encyclopedia of Inspiration BOX SET (The first three volumes)

Uppercase (A magazine or the creative & curious)

Little U (the offspring of UPPERCASE magazine)

We Have Lift Off!

Six months on from the shock of the nerve agent attack on the Skripals, the people of Salisbury are attempting to use the power of the arts to reclaim the streets, work through the trauma of the assault and draw visitors back to the cathedral city.
— The Guardian

A Celebration of the Arts

Over the August bank holiday weekend I was invited to run print workshops at Wiltshire Creative's 'Lift Off!’ Festival at Salisbury Arts Centre. The people of Salisbury certainly did reclaim the streets and Salisbury Arts Centre too! The city was buzzing and people were in great spirits.

Here are just a few of the pics of printing explorations over the busy weekend. 

Rubber-stamping Carving and printing 

Ben stamps his name and creates buildings from pre-carved stamps while the adults have a go at carving shapes and patterns to create their own stamps. 

Ben stamps his name and creates buildings from pre-carved stamps while the adults have a go at carving shapes and patterns to create their own stamps. 

Foreign Affairs in Letterpress

Ash works out a design for her boyfriend’s band ’Foreign Affairs.'

Ash works out a design for her boyfriend’s band ’Foreign Affairs.'

Type setting names and rubber stamping fun! 

Together Freya and Ewan type-set and print their names while little hands find spongy stamps to explore and play!

Together Freya and Ewan type-set and print their names while little hands find spongy stamps to explore and play!

Flashy Letterpress & Rubber stamps! 

7.LiftOffSalisburyx4.jpg

Thanks to all who took part over the weekend! It was fab! 

“It shows the world how important the arts are to the city and that despite recent events the community (and many visitors) still want to come together in celebration.
— The Guardian

North Art Summer Show Exhibition

Thanks to my wonderful friend Patrick who helped me hang my woodblock prints for the North Art Gallery Summer Show. Thanks also to Adrian for curating the event. The preview was fab and the show will be up for 4 week so do pop in and say hello! 

Hanging the Woodblock prints

EightfivepressNetsukeWoodblockPrintsNorthArtGallery.jpg

Netsuke Miniature Prints

Save The Elephants

EightfivepressNetsukeWoodblockPrintsNorthArtGallery2018.jpg

£5 from the sale of each print will be donated to Save The Elephants

Through my interest in Japanese antique netsuke, I have become more aware of the ivory trade that is still in operation today. 

Save The Elephants are a founding partner of the Wildlife Conservation Network in the US which transmits 100% of donated funds to the field. 

"Our mission: to secure a future for elephants and to sustain the beauty and ecological integrity of the places they live; to promote man’s delight in their intelligence and the diversity of their world, and to develop a tolerant relationship between the two species."

Save The Elephants continue their research to find solutions to reduce conflict, end poaching, trafficking and the demand for ivory. They raise awareness and provide internships and scholarships in conservation education. 

Inspiration for the Project

The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund De Waal

EightfivepressNetsukeWoodblockPrintsNorthArtGalleryx1.jpg

This book was the inspiration for my journey into the wood. Each woodblock is hand printed with a baren using Japanese carbon ink on white hosho paper. The description 'NETSUKE’ is debossed with 10pt New Clarendon metal type printed on the adana 8 x 5 printing press.

The space invites you to take a quiet moment and sit on the cushion provided and read from the book if you wish. There are also hand printed bookmarks for you to take away.  

Other Artists exhibiting at North Summer Show 2018 include:

Show Miche Watkins, Tina Altwegg, Gareth Pitt, Sarah V Penrose, Ian Pillidge, Jane Warring, Jess Stevenson, David Brown, Tony Eastman, Victoria Fox, Ian Usher, Caroline McGlone, Lenny, Andrew Wilson and Luz Gallardo-Franco.

North Art

Gallery Opening Hours

Thursday 2pm - 6pm

Friday 2pm - 6pm

Saturday 10am - 4pm

Sunday 10am - 2pm

...and by appointment; please email contact@northart135.com

North Art - Summer Show Preview

EightfivepressWoodblockPrintNetsukeWoodBird.jpg
A new show with over a dozen local and international artists at North Art Gallery. Original works, prints and sculptures as well as installations and events. 
— North Art Gallery

Next Thursday 19th July I will be showing a selection of my netsuke mini woodblock prints at North Art Gallery, Bristol. The Summer Show Preview will be from 6pm - 9pm. Other artists exhibiting their work include: Miche Watkins, Tina Altwegg, Gareth Pitt, Sarah V Penrose, Ian Pillidge, Jane Warring, Jess Stevenson, David Brown, Tony Eastman, Victoria Fox, Ian Usher, Caroline McGlone, Lenny, Andrew Wilson and Luz Gallardo-Franco.

I look forward to seeing you there! : ))

Logo trans.png.opt602x200o0,0s602x200.png

North Art Summer Show 2018

Preview Event

6-9pm - Thursday 19 July 2018
135 North Street, Southville, BS3 1EY
contact@northart135.com
www.northart135.com