Woodcut and Gyotaku fish printmaking workshop

A workshop involving different types of printmaking – woodcut and Gyotaku, a traditional form of Japanese art – is to take place at the Old Low Light Heritage Centre, North Shields Fish Quay.

Newcastle-based artist, Allan Barnfather, in partnership with Northern Print, will lead the workshop on Friday 16 September from 10am to 3pm (including lunch break). Tickets are on sale at £75pp (all materials included).

Allan will demonstrate woodcut, using pieces of grained wood, such as Birch plywood and ink, to create a background. Then he will demonstrate Gyotaku, using Mackerel to create an image of the fish which can be transferred to the wood using the Chine-colle technique.

Gyotaku began in Japan in the mid-1800s as a way for fishermen to keep a record of the fish they caught. Gyo means fish and Taku means rubbing or impressing. The fishermen would apply Sumi, a special type of ink usually used by Japanese calligraphers, to one side of a freshly caught fish, cover the fish with rice paper and then rub it to create an exact image of the fish.

Chine-colle roughly translates from French as China (Chine), because the thin paper used traditionally came from China, India and Japan, and glue or paste (colle).

Allan, who regularly runs art workshops with community groups across the region, said: “Demonstrating both woodcut and Gyotaku means that participants gain experience of different techniques in printmaking using basic materials. Woodcut using grained wood will result in an image that looks like a watermark. Once the fish image is transferred an image is created of the fish swimming in its own environment.

“Mackerel is good for this process as they have individual marks, unique to each fish. Once the fish have been printed, I will demonstrate how these individual marks can be applied, using Sumi ink with the Chinese brush technique.”

A small selection of citrus fruit will be available for participants who would rather print fruit than fish.

The event follows two highly popular Gyotaku workshops, led by Allan last autumn at the Old Low Light.

Centre director, Guy Moody, said: “We are pleased to welcome Allan back to the Old Low Light. Last year’s Gyotaku workshops sold out almost immediately and we had a long reserve list. This time he is introducing additional techniques in printmaking.

“While these workshops are a little different to our usual programme of activities, they show how fishing, once a major industry in North Shields, has influenced arts, culture and heritage.”

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