Our time at Mi-Lab is almost over and we're all sitting in the library, chatting and looking through books. Today at lunch everyone was very quiet and It felt sad that our time together is really coming to an end. The six of us have worked together, eaten together at breakfast lunch and dinner, and gone off on adventures at the weekend. I'm so lucky that I ended up on this course with such a great bunch of people.
I made a plan for the week ahead; to spend each day making prints from each of the three images I've carved during my time here. In the evening I cut sheets of Japanese paper to soak over night so that the paper is moist enough to print on Monday and . But I underestimated how long it would take me to make the prints and definitely overestimated how much paper I would need. I had lots of ideas of colour combinations I wanted to try out, but I only managed 4 prints on Monday - but I'm really pleased with them. These prints are rich and dark with lots of colour. I looked at some of the backgrounds and use of colour in Tetsuya Noda prints and decided to base a print on one of his - just as an exercise.
I am pretty pleased with the result i've achieved - I've managed to get rich colour but also the patterned grain of the wood is showing through in the print and I have the Bucushi in lots of different colours. I remember during the first 2 weeks of being here, I was so frustrated that I just couldn't get the paper to absorb the pigment properly and was only getting a very grainy, speckled colour on the paper.
Dense colour and the grain of the wood were the two qualities that I really wanted to achieve and now I feel I'm succeeding. I haven't had any eureka moments, instead it's been steady progress in getting good texture and colour in the prints.
The following day I tried out a totally different combination of colours. I wanted to see how different the same print could look when executed with different colours. I also wanted to see if could print with lots of Bokushi using very subtle pigment. I still feel there is more printing I can do with this plate and am really looking forward to seeing how I approach the same woodblock when I'm back in London.
Today being I wrapped up all my work and have shipped a big box of artworks back to London. I have kept all my Mokuhanger tools as I'm heading to another print studio in Osaka in just over a week's time. Right now though I'm totally exhausted but so happy because , is my birthday and I'm going to see Tim who is now in Tokyo and coming here in the morning. I can't wait!!
I'm now sitting in a beautiful hotel room having just taken full advantage of the buffet breakfast. My lovely parents very generously booked Tim and me a couple of nights stay in a lovely hotel in Tokyo as a birthday present. Thank you, thank you, mum and dad!!
Yesterday morning I said my goodbye to the other artists and I had one final walk by the lake, taking in the view of the mountains and bright red maple trees and I said my farewell to Mount Fuji. On our way back to Tokyo we took a detour via Fuji-Q Roller Coaster Theme Park. I had noticed this a couple of times from the coach during the journey from Tokyo to Mi-Lab, just on the outskirts of Kawaguchi, and thought it looked totally crazy - huge steel structures looping around in the sky, Mount Fuji in the background, and from the bus I could hear people screaming. A few weeks ago over a Facetime chat with Tim we decided to go since neither of us have been to a theme park since we were about 10 years old.
After queuing for an hour we went on a ride on a rollercoaster which, in 1996 when it was built, was the largest on the planet! Who remembers the 90's when the Power Rangers were at the height of popularity? Pictures and memorabilia of them where all over this ride, making it feel very dated. I really liked that about it, but it was pretty scary, because being 20 years old, with its rusty structural frame, it didn't feel that safe - the picture of us at the end was pure comedy! After the intensity of the four week residency it was very liberating to be doing something thoroughly silly.
Now, back in Tokyo it's wonderful - the weather is sunny, warm and very autumnal. Yesterday we went to the famous Ueno Park, famous for blossom in the spring. Since it was, there were lots of families enjoying a day out and we stumbled across a market that had a Ninja themed show. We saw lots of tiny children dressed up in Ninja costumes looking extremely cute.