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The 2002 Album


We are now at the end of the fourth Surimono Album, but when one includes the set of ten Hyakunin Isshu albums that I produced in the years previous to this series, we come up with a total of 14 albums, each one containing ten prints. Each of the 14 years has followed the same pattern - January as 'exhibition season', when the previous year's work is shown and orders are collected for the upcoming album, and then the rest of the year devoted to producing the ten prints.

It has worked very well, but as you can see by the date at the bottom of this page, I have recently had a lot of trouble keeping the albums properly 'aligned' with the calendar! The Hyakunin Isshu albums were by-and-large produced on schedule - with an average number of colours per print in the 8~9 range, and with a print 'run' of 100 copies of each design, it wasn't too hard to stick to the plan. But these newer Surimono Albums are turning out to be a more difficult proposition; the average number of colours is 13~14, and the print run is twice as large - 200 copies of each design. In addition, many of the prints involve a lot of delicate carving, and this of course adds greatly to the time taken. So considering all these factors, it's actually not such a tragedy to have the album finished 'only' two months late. But I really do want to keep to the 'one new album every year' system, so will make every attempt not to let the schedule slip further.

For those of you collectors who have been occasionally disappointed by the length of time the prints are taking to arrive at your door, I can only offer these words, which appear at the top of a menu from the Restaurant Antoine in New Orleans:

Avis au Public
Faire de la bonne cuisine demande un certain temps. Si on vous fait attendre, c'est pour mieux vous servir, et vous plaire. *

* * *

Are you familiar with 'pointillism' - the painting technique in which a picture is made up of innumerable small dots of colour? When the viewer stands close to the canvas, each dot is seen clearly as an individual item, but when looked at from a distance, a wider picture emerges. I like to think that I am kind of a 'pointillistic artist'. On my canvas so far 40 dots have appeared - the 40 prints in this Surimono Albums series ... can you see the picture that is starting to become apparent when you 'stand back'?

During that ten-year period before starting these Surimono Albums, my 'theme' was a simple one - to recreate Katsukawa Shunsho's Hyakunin Isshu series. That was kind of an apprenticeship for me, but once it was done the time had arrived to take up a wider theme - to show the world just how beautiful woodblock prints can be. That is the 'picture' that I hope is becoming more legible month-by-month and year-by-year as more 'dots' accumulate on my canvas.

Do you find each and every one of my dots beautiful? I rather suspect not; the only person who will love all these children is their father, everybody else will have favourites, and others not-so-favourite ... But my pointillism analogy is a serious one; the world of traditional Japanese woodblock printmaking is so deep and varied, that it is going to take a long time - and a great many points indeed - to create a clear picture in the viewer's mind. The picture will never be completed of course, but over the coming years I am going to have a wonderful time painting it ... dot by dot!

Thank you very much for your support of this album. I hope you will treasure it, and will enjoy the viewing as much as I have enjoyed the making!

February 2003
David Bull
Seseragi Studio, Ome City, Tokyo

* Good cooking takes time. If you are made to wait, it is to serve you better, and to please you.

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