Film production company, Rivertime Entertainment wrote to us at the Toshidama Gallery recently, promoting their latest film. Ukiyo-e Heroes is an outstanding and generous piece of work. It documents the collaboration of David Bull, a modern woodblock carver, printer and artisan with designer and comic book and game specialist Jed Henry. In 2010, Jed contacted the older, David Bull who has spent most of his life living and working in Japan, refining the traditional skills of a Japanese woodblock artist. Jed had the idea to take modern gamer images and reproduce them using traditional Edo techniques and materials.
The results are really terrific – a proper meeting of two disparate cultures and skills, producing something very fresh and very engaging. The traditional skills of David Bull really come alive with these fresh, vibrant images. I confess that the re-making of old prints in the manner of the nineteenth century leaves me cold. Despite the extraordinary technical skill that Bull brings to say, his reproduction of Hokusai’s Great Wave, the piece for all its technical brilliance is a dead thing. The original piece is alive and shouts with the joy of nature, of life, of existence.
The same is true even when artists make copies of their own works. William Blake’s careful reproductions of his earlier works are very inferior to the verve of the original mono-prints and engravings.
Trailers for the movie which is an account of the two artist’s working relationship are available on youtube.