Thursday, 15 March 2007
Japanese woodblock prints are a great inspiration to me. I admire the skills of the artist/designers, block cutters and printers who produced them. And I enjoy finding out the story behind the picture - for instance sometimes a serious looking image turns out to be a silly joke involving a pun and a celebrity actor dressed as a fireman!
This is a detail of a woodblock print by Hirosada. I bought it at a local auction last year and after a bit of research I found out that it is one of a series of prints designed by Hirosada in 1852 illustrating a play based on the story of the selection of the 12 animals of the Japanese zodiac. This one shows the hare - and you can see the technique of blind embossing used to depict the hare's fur. The fine line detail is amazing, as is the combination of blind embossing (printing from an uninked block onto damp paper) with colour to create a subtle 3D effect to the patterns on the kimono. This print was throw-away publicity material for a theatre production 155 years ago in Osaka, Japan - it's also a beautiful example of the skills of the artist and craftsmen who produced it.