Monday, 31 March 2008

Hiroshige in the Pleasure Capital...of Blackpool

In January I posted information about the exhibition of original Hiroshige prints "The Moon Reflected" and it's arrival in Blackpool at the Grundy Art Gallery.

We went to see it over the weekend, and I'll be going back again before it closes on April 26th.

It was fantastic, and I urge everyone not to miss this great opportunity to view, close up, these woodblock prints, produced in Hiroshige's lifetime.

We've all seen these images in books and reproduced as posters; some of us may also be lucky enough to own a modern woodblock reproduction from The Adachi Studio, but it's not every day that you get the chance to see original period prints. These are what the prints Van Gogh and his friends saw looked like. This is what fired the Impressionists; and it will inspire you.

If you're an illustrator, artist, printmaker, graphic designer, animator or web designer and you haven't been to this exhibition yet, then hang your head in shame. It's so rare for prints of this age and quality to make it out of the British Museum's collection and travel to a small gallery in the North of England, and on our visit (on a very wet Saturday afternoon) there were only 3 other people there!

Thank you British Museum and Ikon Gallery. We all can't just pop down to London to see these prints, and I for one will never forget the experience of viewing this art.

The arrival of these prints in Europe over 150 years ago revolutionised art and design. It created a seismic shift so large that it's difficult to imagine what route European art, design and photography would have taken without them. I'm not overstating this, but we are now so used to seeing the influences of these prints that they're virtually invisible to us. Start to really observe, rather than just looking and be astonished. Even artists and designers who've never heard of Hiroshige are influenced by him through a kind of visual osmosis.

The exhibition runs until April 26th. You still have time to get there.

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