Woodblock Shimbun - Index
Welcome to the 'Woodblock Shimbun' - a collection of media coverage of the work of traditional printmaker David Bull. You will find newspaper clippings, magazine articles, TV programs in QuickTime format, and radio interviews in mp3 and RealAudio format. Plenty to keep you (hopefully) entertained for longer than you should really spend here!
Do we get much press coverage? A little ... :-) Here is a short video clip from around ten years ago, showing a collection of press clippings. We don't dare try to update this with a new version! (1 minute ... about 1.5Mb)
Newspaper and magazine stories:
I get far more attention from the Japanese language press than from English publications, but on this page there are plenty of both for you to see. Items with a blue dot are in English, while those with a red dot are in Japanese, but are included because they are mostly photos or illustrations, so should be of interest also. (A more complete list of the Japanese items is over on the Japanese version of this page here.)
Here are a few video clips from TV programs on my printmaking work (all but a couple in Japanese). The media files will stream from an Amazon S3 server, and sometimes take a moment or two to get going. Give it a few seconds; once your selected clip begins to download, it should play smoothly.
- NHK again! Their overseas arm - NHK World - asked me to appear in a pilot program for a new series they were planning, to be called Japanophiles. (No bonus points for guessing what the series was going to be about!) Host Peter Barakan and I spent a very enjoyable time in their studio putting it all together, and the result turned out to be one of the best overviews of my work made to date. And it's entirely in English ... all 30 minutes of it!
- Just one TV appearance this year ... I got a corner in a long two-hour program about foreigners working in traditional Japanese crafts. Some of the people were featured at great length, but I got just a few minutes. It was shot in my downstairs workshop on a grey cloudy day, and the lighting man wasn't prepared at all ... it's quite gloomy. But it does give a view of the printing process for my large scroll print ...
- This is another 'shorty' - a two minute filler program called O-Edo Iki-iki. It's an on-going series featuring craftsmen working in a field with some relation to the Edo-era, and that certainly covers me! (2 minutes ... 3.3Mb)
- In March 2005, I was invited to show/demonstrate my work on NHK's lunchtime talk show - O-hiru Desuyo! Here is a clip containing excerpts from the program. (9+ minutes ... about 18Mb) (A partial 'script' translation is over in the Hanga Manga section of the website.)
- In November 2004, NHK was back yet again (they've been so good to me!); this time they produced a 15 minute mini-documentary on my work for their Minna Ikiteiru series for broadcast over their education channel to school classrooms. Filmed in my new (still under construction) Ome workroom, it focussed on the carving for the 'Autumn' print in my Beauties of Four Seasons series. (15 minutes ... about 30Mb)
- I had been sending my promotional material to the producers of the program Dare-demo Picasso (Anybody can be a Picasso!) for many years, but they had never 'nibbled'. Finally, in the summer of 2004, they called me up to discuss an appearance. Turned out to be nothing to do with my p/r activities - they were planning a story on foreigners working in 'disappearing' traditional fields. But of course I said 'yes' anyway, and appeared with three others on the program (9 minutes ... about 15.5Mb).
- Waratte Koraete is a very popular program here in Japan, and in 2002 they did a special program featuring 'Foreigners who are more Japanese than the Japanese' ... Of course they called me! (8 minutes ... about 14.5Mb)
- 'Neighbourly' is a small two-minute 'sandwich' program designed to fill space in a TV schedule; they try to show people in relation to their local society. It's a very compressed, but quite well done, view of my life here in Ome ... (They also - I think to give a bit of a 'foreign and exotic' feel to the program - asked me to speak in English, not Japanese!) (2 minutes ... about 2.8Mb)
- This one was a bit different; no cameras came to my workroom - I went to the TV studios. I was invited by NHK to show my then new Surimono Album series on the early morning news program IttoRokken. I had to be in their studio very early in the morning to set everything up, and then after a short rehearsal we all stood by watching the second hand of the clock tick up to the starting time ... yes, it was live! (5 minutes ... about 8.7Mb)
- An appearance on the afternoon variety program Ladies 4. (5 1/2 minutes ... about 9Mb)
- There was a huge flood of publicity at the end of the long poet's series, involving everything from short items on news programs up to long documentaries. Here is a short news spot typical of many from that time. (This one even includes a 'sneak' shot taken during my visit to that year's New Year Poetry Contest at the Imperial Palace). (1 1/2 minutes ... about 1.6Mb)
- Here is one of the longer programs, a half-hour documentary with a bit of everything - general interview scenes, visit to collectors, visit to a wood supply shop and the knife shop, and of course plenty of carving and printing shots, some of them quite 'closeup'. It's quite long, so I have split the video into two segments:
Part One: 12 minutes ... about 21.5Mb | Part Two: 16 minutes ... about 27.5Mb
- Here is something for those of you who can't understand Japanese! NHK has an overseas broadcasting arm, and they featured my work in a segment on their Japan This Week program. It was broadcast with both Japanese and English soundtracks, but the copy I had available has them blended together! Can you mentally pick out the English only as you watch? (7 minutes ... about 12.7Mb)
- Still another one on the 'foreigners in Japan' theme - this program focusses on foreigners resident in Tokyo, and this time it was my turn. Includes a visit to Gosho-san the baren maker. (9 1/2 minutes ... about 16.6Mb)
- But the highlight of the TV programs that year had to be the one-hour documentary on TV Tokyo, in their 'Human Drama' series. The video crew had been following me for a few years prior to the end of the 10-year project, with an eye to putting out this program, and it aired just after they got their final footage - at the closing exhibition of the Hyakunin Isshu print series. It is presented here in five parts (linked from the first one here). I've cut the commercials, so the total running time is just around 48 minutes.
- The media here in Japan really loves to highlight foreigners who study intensely some aspect of Japanese culture. This NHK program: Hello Nippon, is typical of that type. It also features a segment where I visit one of the traditional printers to talk about my work and get a bit of advice ... (20 minutes ... about 28.8Mb)
- Tokyo Now is a short program on some point of interest, and they chose me one day ... (2 1/2 minutes ... about 2.9Mb)
- One of the TV stations in Tokyo produced a series going around to the different towns/cities inside Tokyo, and when they got to Hamura, and looked for something there to show ... they found me! (3 1/2 minutes ... about 7.5Mb)
- Another short 'filler' program - People - from a series that highlights people doing 'interesting' things. Filmed entirely while sitting at my carving bench, it's a combination of just 'talk' and shots of me working on one of the woodblocks in the poets' series ... (2 1/2 minutes ... about 3.7Mb)
- A feature spot on the 'Newswide' program; the usual mix of interview, carving and printing - includes a few scenes with my daughters ... (4 1/2 minutes ... about 9.6Mb)
- Here's a ten-minute feature program - Time Angle - filmed during the days while I was preparing for the 'half-way' exhibition of the Hyakunin Isshu poetry series in January 1994. I was insanely busy just then, but they mostly didn't interfere with what I was doing, and just followed us around while we set up the show (I say 'us' because my parents came over for a visit just then). Includes a visit to Shimano-san the blockmaker, and a short sax 'concert' by my dad! (10 minutes ... about 20Mb)
- Here is a typical program on my work: a few carving and printing scenes, some shots of my neighbourhood, a visit with one of the collectors, shots of a few of the prints ... all completely 'standard' (all except the opening sequence, that is!). Broadcast on the Family Tokyo program in September of 1993. (just under 7 minutes ... about 11Mb)
- This one is a bit different; the rather bizarre children's program Ugo Ugo Rooga had a running segment for a while that showed people 'working'. Don't quite know why they thought it was sensible to show a traditional woodblock carver, but they did ... (I've left in the program opening sequence, even though it has nothing to do with me, because it is so weird!) (2 minutes, 4Mb)
- I got into real movie theaters with this one; it's a seven minute 'newsreel' program - shown before feature films for a couple of years after it was made. Filmed in my workroom, it is a conversation with a reporter, interspersed with shots of the carving and printing work. (7 minutes, 8.6Mb)
- The title translates as 'Foreigners who love Japan'. This was a pretty good one; the producers wanted to get plenty of material with me interacting with other craftsmen, so we visited a printer and a carver. The carver Ito Susumu has passed away since this was filmed, so this is a very nice record of his work, at least a glimpse of it. The program featured three foreigners in all, and this excerpt is my segment of it. (11 minutes, 18Mb)
- I was selected to appear on the Anata no Tokyo (Your Tokyo) program, which features people doing interesting things in this 'community', giving a pretty good survey of my activities. It features clips of my carving and printing work, along with a visit to Matsuzaki-san the printer, and a few shots of our family life at that time ... (around 14 minutes ... about 20Mb)
- Yume Creator is a short program that each week featured some person with a 'dream'. When I was into the third year of my long poets' series, they came to interview me, and find out what my dream was ... :-) (2 1/2 minutes ... about 3Mb)
- This was my first appearance on TV here in Japan, back in December of 1989. NHK's news editors seemed to think that after I had finished the first 8 of the 100 prints in the Hyakunin Isshu series, this was 'newsworthy' enough to include in the Evening News one day! (3 minutes ... about 3.8Mb)
Here are a few recorded radio interviews, prepared in both RealAudio format and as mp3s ... I don't know if it makes much sense to discuss graphic arts on the radio, but hey, when they want me, I'm ready!
- NHK Radio, November 1997 (each part about seven minutes) (in English)
- NHK World - Radio Japan, February 2003 (about 15 minutes)
- .mp3 (5.4Mb)
The 'Woodblock Shimbun' has a full selection of TV programs on file. Videos available include some of David's news appearances, complete feature programs, and some short documentaries on his work. The files are in QuickTime format, and can be easily viewed with your browser.
Program listings are lower down on the main left-side column of this index page ...
Woodblock Prints in a Different Light
"Let me ask you a silly question: Have you ever seen a woodblock print before?" ukiyo-e printmaker David Bull asked me. "Of course you have. But do you know how to look at a woodblock print?" He held a postcard-sized print under the fluorescent light in his cluttered kitchen. "Is that a woodblock print, or is it printed by a machine, or is it a photograph? (1999)
Recapturing Edo Images
Squatting in front of a photocopy of an ukiyo-e print in the light from a 50-watt bulb, David Bull puts his carving knife carefully to a block of cherry wood. Under his blade, the image of an elaborately robed Heian minister slowly begins to emerge. "The hardest thing about making woodblock prints is the carving of intricate lines - you have to be able to use your knife like a brush in order to do justice to the fine lines," Bull says. (1989)
David Bull: Printmaker
The classic woodblock prints made famous by Hokusai and others depict a stylized, long-lost Japan. A chance encounter with woodblock printing at an exhibition in Toronto more than twenty years ago led David Bull down a path that has made him the only artist, Japanese or foreign, working to reproduce those classical prints. (2000)