Sunday, January 4, 2009

Woodblock printmaking with artist Ralph Kiggell

All photos ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn
A couple of weeks ago we had the wonderful opportunity to witness how traditional Japanese woodblock printing was done by one of the best, artist Ralph Kiggell. Ralph is an old friend from Hong Kong days where we used to work together in publishing. For several years now he has concentrated on perfecting his technique as a printer and artist. He has studied with numerous Japanese printmasters and today creates the most wonderful images: industrial landscapes of advertising hoardings, power lines, water towers and cityscapes; but also ferns, bracken, lotus flowers and pagodas. I love his pairings of pagodas, water towers and chimney stacks. The colors are absolutely wonderful and the shapes swirling, bold and fluid. The subjects are mostly set in Asia and coincide very much with subjects that I am fascinated with in photography - industrial landscapes, iconic cultural images and details. He also does book illustrations - the most superb being "Leading the Cranes Home", illustrations of orientalist Arthur Waley's translations of Chinese poems. (The Old Stile Press. ISBN 0907664). 

We visited him in his studio in Bangkok and he showed Emy (9 yrs) and Burton (11 yrs)  how to make a print. He then let Burton have a go himself. Burton quickly drew a gecko on a piece of rubber tree wood and then cut out (with Ralph's help) the image, inked it and then printed it by rubbing a "baren" over the paper that had been placed on the block. It was all finished by simply peeling off the finished print from the wood. The experience for all of us was wonderfully rewarding.

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