I have been making woodcuts since 1994 when, on the basis of having stumbled upon the beauty of prints of Shiko Munakata, a very unusual artist of the mid 20th Century who was overwhelmingly devoted to woodblock print and Buddhist teachings.
Developing a personal style has not been straightforward for me because I needed to wrestle, not just with technical realities, but with a fundamental concern with the dichotomy of ‘spontaneity’ – the quality that Munakata’s work seemed to exude, and ‘control’ – the need for coherence, without which the work decays to chaos.
One approach is to work fast, which allows the tool to speak but it is also risky, because with this technique, there is no ‘rubbing out’. Woodblock is very committing.
Much of my current work is based upon the power of parallel flowing lines and I am fascinated by the breaking up of flow and de-coherence to spray that occurs with waves and waterfalls. I am also working on qualities of surface, undulation and the reflections of light.
Having sailed all my life, and spent much time on water, I gravitate in that direction artistically. However, I also sometimes work directly within landscape or with abstraction.
In order to meet technical challenges presented by the medium, I test methods and make tools which I am fairly sure are unique. The many years which I spent as an employed craftsman have left me with peripheral skills without which I would not be able to do this. I see woodblock printmaking as simultaneously an art and a craft, and each of these modes has its place in my way of making images with chisel and ink.