I’m excited to have arrived in Japan to take up a place in an international art residency! As one of six international artists chosen from over 100 applicants, I'm honoured to be joining the MI-LAB program. Promoting traditional Japanese woodblock printing, also known as 'mokuhanga', through contemporary art is the aim of the program, and I'll be learning advanced level skills in Japanese woodblock printing. For five weeks, experienced craftspeople will be teaching us everything connected to this amazing 'marriage of paper and wood'. I'll be staying at the foot of Mt. Fuji amid the sound of rainy-season-high frogs!
Japanese woodblock is the basis for traditional technique was used by Japanese artists including Katsushika Hokusai, and Ando Hiroshige in the 19th century and influenced artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet. It has origins in China in the form of movable type to print books, and was first used in Japan around the 8th century to create sutras, mandalas and other Buddhist texts and images. During the Edo era (1603-1867), the technique rapidly developed in a medium for producing affordable artworks for the masses. The 'Ukiyoe' genre recorded fashion, trends, travel destinations and stories of the day.
As an Australian artist based in Singapore with a lifelong interest in culture, I'm fascinated with history, heritage and our identity in an increasingly interconnected world. My artwork reflects a desire to chart a contemporary journey beyond borders in an exploration of language and landscape. Japan is a place particularly close to my heart as I spent several years working in places including Okinawa, Nagoya and Kyoto. As a kindergarten student in Tokyo, I remember meeting Sumo wrestlers, eating Sukiyaki and the sound of the train rattling past our apartment. I also fell in love with Ukiyoe prints that my parents had collected. I remember feeling amazed by the gorgeous images of women in kimono, majestic depictions of scenery and images of bygone Japan. Some 15 years later, I was lucky enough to learn Japanese woodblock from renowned artist Akira Kurosaki at Kyoto Seika University. It was then that I discovered that Japanese woodblock was the medium behind the same amazing Ukiyoe prints I had discovered as a child.
I love connecting people to culture, and my work as an art educator allows me to share my knowledge and experiences with locals and international residents of Singapore. I’ve introduced over 500 people to the world of printmaking, while giving them an insight into Singapore’s culture and history. In my culturally inspired art workshops, I've enjoyed watching my students 'create with culture' and interpret Peranakan and Chinese culture into their own artwork. My students and clients have given me a great deal of encouragement, and I’m thankful for their support. This art residency is an important part of helping me develop new skills and a deeper knowledge to pass onto those around me.
The MI-LAB art residency is vital in helping me fulfil my personal goal of carving out - pardon the pun! - some dedicated time to focus on creating new work, learning more about the traditional art of Japanese woodblock printing, and spending time with other art professionals. I look forward to workshops led by professional mokuhanga artists, master carvers and printers.At the end of the residency, I’ll be exhibiting my work in Singapore and Japan. I look forward to deepening my understanding Japanese culture while allowing myself some dedicated time to professional development. Working alongside other artists familiar with Japanese woodblock is definitely a bonus and I hope to exchange tips and tricks with them.
As the program is self-funded, I've launched a fundraising campaign that allows people to sponsor me. My campaign is unusual in that sponsors can choose to receive a hand-made postcard sent from Japan, have their business featured in social media or order a unique artwork specially-priced collection. Some of my artwork will also be created on site during the program and inspired by the local sights and surrounds.
My fundraising campaign ends June 22! Learn more about becoming a part of my journey.
Established over 20 years ago, the MI-LAB program accepts some 4-12 international artists out of some 100 applicants every year and is operated by the Center for the Science of Human Endeavour (CfSHE). The program trains artists in the traditional Japanese technique of ‘mokuhanga’, or Japanese water-based woodblock printmaking at the beginner and advanced levels. The MI-LAB residential studio is located at the foot of Mount Fuji, an area registered as a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO in 2013. The premises are close to Lake Kawaguchi in peaceful rural surroundings. Learn more about MI-LAB.
Facebook Live! Tune in to real-time sharing of my time in Yamanashi Prefecture.