Ancient art form to be a hit at 21st c. Fair

Ancient art form to be a hit at 21st c. Fair

9th September | General| No Comments

For the first time in the history of the EAF, our visitors will be able to view, learn about and buy an ancient and extremely important art form.

Japanese wood block printing has been around for centuries with some samples of early woodblock printed books dating as far back as the 8th c.

In the late 19th c. Japanese wood block prints were very popular among many of the famous artists of the day, in particular, the likes of Van Gogh and Gauguin were heavilly influenced by the work of the far eastern master carvers.

Japanese Woodblock Prints are the wonderful result of the synergy of team work. The team comprised of four; the Artist, the Carver, the Printer and the Publisher. 

The Artist provided his vision and creativity in the form of an exactly to scale `underdrawing` (hanshita-e).

This sheet was given to the Carver who pasted it face down on a dried block of straight-grained cherry wood. The carver, who had served a 10 year apprenticeship, then skilfully carved the block leaving the drawn lines in relief which would be inked and printed from, for the first outline print. He would also carve `guide marks` which would allow the printer to align each of the following colour blocks. The same procedure would be used for every area of colour within the print, with each colour in a woodblock print requiring it`s own cherry block.

These cherry blocks would then be given to the Printer who would ink each block, make some complete prints (effectively `Artists Proofs`), get the Artists approval, make any necessary changes and then do the complete run of hundreds of prints. It was a time consuming process as each sheet had to be lightly dampened before printing and then dried and dampened again before the next colour was added, continually, until the final colour was added making the print complete.    

The Publisher generally commissioned the Artist, perhaps to do a series of views such as the Stations of the Tokaido or Kabuki Theatre plays and owned the blocks outright, having complete control of how many times the blocks were reprinted and often re-carved until the blocks wore out. Today`s supporters of `Droit de suite` would not be impressed! The spectacular work of these teams are still as appealing to today`s collectors as they were in the 18th Century.

Visitors to this years EAF can view and purchase some beautiful examples of this work from the stand of The Whitley Art Gallery at stand E3.