Prints by Claire Cameron-Smith

To see a selection of my prints go to the prints gallery page, and if you like my creations and are inspired to purchase a print or two, take a look at the shop to see what’s currently available:

Background

An exchange visit to Japan in 1989 ignited my interest in the country and its culture and I took this interest further by choosing Japanese Studies as my degree subject at Sheffield University. Through my studies there, my visits to Japan, and my interest in all things Japanese, I became aware of the process of woodblock printing. The kacho-e, or “bird and flower” prints hold a particular appeal for me, but it is the process itself that I find most fascinating. To see images of my designs, visit the prints gallery.

Magnolia Stellata

Methods and Motivation

Over the last few years I have started to build up a working knowledge of the methods, tools and materials in the field of traditional Japanese printmaking. My main resource for learning about the processes involved has been, and still is, the Internet. Web research, books and the study of prints themselves in my own small collection and in museums and galleries have all helped to provide an insight into the subject. The tradition in Japan was based on the division of labour between several craftsmen who were experts in their field – designer, carver and printer each had their own distinct part to play in creating prints. It’s a bit different for me however, as from conception to final print I’m usually the only person involved.

Individually Hand-Crafted Works of Art

For most prints I have done all the designing, analysis, carving and printing. The only exception is where I have chosen to recreate my own versions of traditional print designs such as Koson’s Rooster and Hen (see right). In these cases I base my version of a print on an existing design but still analyse, carve and print each one myself. I am developing my work through means of experimentation with a variety of methods, tools and materials that are not necessarily always traditional, but which achieve the desired result. I see my prints as artistic creations – I am utilising the medium not just as a means of mechanical reproduction, but to create a succession of unique originals. I am fascinated by the paradoxical concept of creating many of the same print whilst at the same time each of those prints is individual. Indeed, one of the most satisfying parts of the whole process is seeing a batch of prints laid out next to each other – they all appear at a glance to be the same, and yet each has its own minute variation and is an individual, original work of art, created by hand from the set of carved woodblocks.