Milton

So much to tell you about with this month's print, and so little space to do it in! As you can see, this is not an ukiyo-e reproduction; just as I did last year at this time, I have brought you an image by a contemporary designer. John Amoss lives in Georgia USA, and sometimes has occasion to drive past the large pulp/paper mill you see depicted here (located in the town of Milton, thus the name). He himself made a woodblock print of this mill a few years ago, and when I saw it, I instantly felt that I too wanted to have a go at using the design in my series. He gave me permission, and this is the result. My print is not simply a reproduction of his version, but more of an adaptation. And this was quite a collaboration between us; here's an outline of our working process:

But what do you think of it!? This print is in what is known as the shin-hanga style, but unlike nearly all other shin-hanga I have ever seen, it does not depict a 'beautiful' object. Ladies walking in the snow with umbrellas ... Mount Fuji at dawn ... these are the standard themes typical of shin-hanga. But to my mind, the beauty of woodblock prints is not only in the object shown in the print, but in the way that it is depicted. As John wrote when describing his design to me "A paper mill is completely disgusting - both in smell and appearance - but seen in the right way, it can become a thing of terrible beauty." And beautiful this is! Look at the way that the hosho paper absorbs all these multiple overprintings, to give a rich deep texture; look at the way that the dark surrounding areas make the light places glow brightly; look at the building - covered with many layers of thick dark pigment, yet shining in pale moonlight!

The wonderful Japanese traditional woodblock techniques are capable of so much expression, that I can only just scratch the surface of the possibilities in the prints I bring you. Of course I'm not going to hunt up 'ugly' objects for themes for the prints - and next month we'll have a very peaceful and 'classical' scene to end the album - but I'm not going to shy away when I think I've found something special, even if it doesn't particularly fit the standard mold.

I hope you can understand, and can enjoy this month's print!

 

January 2003

David