Alexia Vogel at The Mokuhang Workshop, Japan

Alexia Vogel recently completed a month-long residency at The Mokuhang Workshop in Kawaguchi, Japan. Working during spring time on the beautiful Lake Kawaguchi, Alexia learnt about the traditional method of Japanese wood block printing. 
OTOMYS: Coming from a background of painting, how did you find working with traditional wood block printing? 
Alexia Vogel: It was such a special experience being taught how to use beautiful old ancient tools for such an ancient technique. The process is very particular, each step must be taken with precision, care and patience. As a painter I struggled with the precise nature of the process, but it was a great challenge to adapt my mind set as an artist. I found it really interesting to learn that most of the old Ukiyo E prints were made with three craftsmen; the artist who designed the image, the carver who meticulously creates the wood blocks, and the master printer who would skilfully print each layer, with editing reaching the 100s. The level of perfection and precision involved in this process was astonishing. It was a very humbling experience to learn each step and I thoroughly enjoyed learning and making many, many mistakes. The teachers were so gracious and gave us lots of tips and a few sneaky cheats. 
OTOMYS: The MI-LAB Artist in Residence Studio is located in the idyllic town of Kawaguchi, which is surrounded by draw-dropping natural vistas. How did the location of Lake Kawaguchi influence your work? 
Alexia Vogel: It was an absolute dream waking to the view of Mt Fuji every morning. The surrounding forests and glittering lake were also a treat to explore. Although, after venturing too far I stumbled across a warning sign that read ‘bear infestation’, which limited my explorations somewhat. I didn’t end up using imagery from Kawaguchiko in my work while I was there. I worked from existing sketches that I had brought with me from home to make sure I had enough time to learn the technique, as 5 weeks goes past very quickly! I am excited though to see how Kawaguchiko will infiltrate my upcoming work.
July 5, 2023