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'Hyakunin Issho'
Newsletter for fans of David Bull's printmaking activities
Issue #63 - Spring 2006
Contents of this Issue:


Spring again! At last! Three months have ticked by on the calendar, so it's time for Hyakunin Issho in your mailbox. We have a 'slightly' reduced issue this time, so let's dive right in with the news items, one-by-one ...

Exhibition News

It was our second year at the Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan, so our gallery space there is starting to seem quite familiar and comfortable. There was enough room to display all 24 of the prints in the Hanga Treasure Chest, and they made quite a spectacular display. I'm sure that among the collectors there were some who had doubted whether or not I would actually get all 24 done within the year, but I kept to my strict working timetable and came in on schedule!

It was however, a very quiet exhibition this time - perhaps the quietest one in more than ten years. The days when newspaper reporters came running to see me whenever an exhibition approached ("Ten-year project nears completion!") are long gone, and I'm going to have to work on the publicity much more seriously next time ...

(An online tour of the exhibition, including video, can be seen on the finished events section of the website.)

Scroll Project News

Work on the year-long project to reproduce a Kaigetsudo painting in scroll format is proceeding basically on schedule, and the first 'Progress Report' was mailed to collectors just the other day. They may have been slightly surprised when they read it to find that I have yet to begin carving the blocks! But even though I haven't got to that stage yet, a lot of advance work has been done, and the most time-consuming part of that has been the preparation of the 'hanshita', the drawing that will guide all subsequent carving. Perhaps this is like the construction of a large building - you have to get the drawing done carefully before you start digging!

(Progress Reports on the scroll project are also online, here)

Small Print Collection News

This series too is coming along 'on schedule', and the second print is now in the hands of the collectors. I had been a touch apprehensive about how the printing of these would go, because the blocks were carved as many as 17 years ago, but I'm finding that they are quite useable. It certainly is a strange feeling though, to take the blocks out of their 17-year old newspaper wrappings, and to realize that it was I who carved them all that time ago!

A Story a Week News

This third project of mine this year is turning out to be a lot of fun for me! Am I having trouble sticking to my once-a-week deadline for the stories? No way ... I'm always at least a month ahead! I'm never quite sure how 'personal' to make the stories, but perhaps I'm finding a good balance; my daughter Fumi is reading them, and so far she hasn't found anything too embarrassing for her!

Family News

Speaking of my daughter Fumi, she has now completed another year of university. She transferred a year ago from the community college where she was studying, over to the main provincial university in British Columbia. She is in the Commerce program, so I'm looking forward to getting some useful business advice from her when she graduates!

There is news too from Himi-chan. I told you in the previous newsletter about her marriage to Ioan - a young man she met on the cruise ships - and mentioned at that time that I was looking forward to attending a summer wedding party at his home in Romania. Well, I have bad news/good news on that ... The party has been postponed, and I won't be travelling to Europe. The reason for the postponement? Perhaps you can guess ... it seems that I'm to become a grandfather in early September! If all goes well, watch out for a photo in the Autumn newsletter!

Event News

Last month I received an interesting request from Sarah Cummings, the lady who was the first foreigner to become a registered o-sake sommelier in Japan. She was hosting an event to promote the preservation and use of traditional wooden barrels in sake brewing, and had an idea: her group would take apart an old barrel, and send the 36 staves to 36 'noted' people with the instruction "Do something with this, and then return it to us."

I was one of the people selected, and - of course - used the stave to create a woodblock for printing. Here's a photo of the re-assembled barrel ... (Calligraphy is by Mrs. Yoko Tauchi)

Mokuhankan News

Eh! Mokuhankan? What's that? Well, more details will be on the way very shortly, but here, just let it suffice to say that finally, after many years of thinking about it, I have started up a small woodblock print publishing venture. This will proceed side-by-side with my usual subscription-based printmaking, but will differ in two important ways:

  • it will feature work produced by other craftsmen ...
  • the prints will be available one by one, not in sets ...

There are any number of reasons why I am doing this:

  • I am personally dissatisfied with the prints I see published these days
  • I want to spread good woodblock prints around as much as possible
  • I would like to provide interesting work for some of the craftsmen
  • I hope to help my own income, which this year is not otherwise going to be 'adequate' :-)

I will select the designs, I will hire the craftsmen, I will organize the sales and distribution, and most importantly - I will set the standards by which this organization will operate. To make excellent woodblock prints involves huge amounts of time, expensive materials, and very highly skilled labour. To try and make a successful venture out of publishing them is a completely irrational, uneconomic and rather foolish thing to do. Wish me luck!

I hope some of the items will be of interest to you!

That's all we have space for this time; hopefully, circumstances will allow a return to the normal size for the next newsletter!