‘Stamps in Time’ displays woodblock prints in Hoi An

By Jon Aspin   January 11, 2019 | 03:15 pm GMT+7
‘Stamps in Time’ displays woodblock prints in Hoi An
An ice-cream (kem) tricycle appears in one of the works at Jack Clayton's woodcut exhibition featuring contemporary Hoi An.

‘All you need is a piece of wood, ink, paper and a knife’ to create art, says British expat Jack Clayton.

The Saigon resident has been carving a creative niche for himself over the last six years. He’s exhibiting his work outside the city for the first time in the central town of Hoi An.

The art of hand-carving images onto blocks of wood, and producing a print by applying ink and pressing the woodcut on paper has enjoyed various renaissances.

The earliest completed pieces date back to the 8th and 9th centuries in China and Japan. In the 15th century, the art form gained widespread popularity in Europe, when it was used primarily to reproduce religious imagery.

Saigon expat Jack Clayton started doing ‘woodcuts’ while at university in Leeds, England, just over 10 years ago, and has been producing original materials since.

Energized and inspired by his move to Vietnam in 2012, specifically by the streets of his adopted city, his output picked up pace, he says.

"I’ve always been more attracted to handmade crafts rather than digital," Clayton said. "It’s more personal to me when you aren’t relying on the latest technology to create. With woodcut printmaking, all you need is a piece of wood, ink, paper and a knife."

Since early work that explored the writings of Carl Jung, followed by his fascination with the faces and expressions he found in Saigon’s alleyways, this exhibition, called ‘Stamps in Time’, is heavily influenced by his impressions of contemporary Hoi An.

Cyclos ride along tailor shops under street lanterns in Hoi An, which is one of the works at Jack Claytons woodcut exhibition.

Cyclos ride along tailor shops under street lanterns in Hoi An, which is one of the works at Jack Clayton's woodcut exhibition.

He has produced a collection of prints handcarved into Japanese Magnolia side-grain and printed onto a mixture of imported French as well as Vietnamese ‘Giay Dzo’ paper. It marks a significant step in the artists’ progression, but as Clayton says it is part of a loose plan to explore other parts of the country, and the region.

"Stamps in Time marks a move away from a well-trodden path of artistic creation for me in Saigon," he told VnExpress International.

 "I have come from knowing little about this ancient town to having a fair grasp on the history and formation of Hoi An.

"Materials and process-wise, it’s the first set of cohesive images that I have made at once for a single series and also the first set of many using Japanese materials such as side-wood from the magnolia tree. This will be a permanent feature of my practice from now on as the details and textures I have achieved in this portfolio far outdo any previous work of mine.

Jack said he has a Hue and Hanoi series in the pipeline too and would like to look at the possibility of creating some Cambodian-inspired prints some time in the future.

As part of the exhibition, which opens at 6 p.m. Friday at Art Space at 1 Pham Hong Thai and then will run also at the March Gallery at 25 Phan Boi Chau until February 12, Jack will host three workshops to introduce the art of woodblock printing.

 
 
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