Thursday, January 13, 2005


While on vacation , we went to the Honolulu Academy of Art to see a Japanese woodblock print exhibition -- a portion of the woodblock print collection donated to the museum by James Michener. The exhibit was very interesting from several different perspectives.

The exhibit started with a brief summary of the very labor intensive, traditional process used to make paper (washi) in Japan. In a few places washi is still made in the traditional way starting from kozo. Here is a great description of the process. Besides being used in printing, washi is used in many other ways. There are a lot of sites discussing the history of paper making in Japan. Here and here are a couple sites.

The prints had been restored to repair damage done over the years (e.g. water damage) or to fix fading of the colors. The conservators had documented the restoration process and included before and after pictures. Here is Dianne looking at one of the displays. In some cases, there were modern day reproductions of the prints placed side by side with the restored print. Color differences and texture differences were readily apparent. For example, you could sometimes see faint wood grain patterns in areas of the original prints.

Finally, it was interesting to see the story or history captured in the print itself. Each print had a brief description of what was depicted in the scene. It gave a quick glimpse into everyday life in another era. It'd be interesting to look at additional prints and read accounts of life in that region.

No comments: