London show highlights influence of Chinese woodblock printing

Wei Lizhong (left), curator of Ten Bamboo Studio Art Museum in Hangzhou, demonstrates a Chinese woodblock printing technique to visitors at the London exhibition. (Photo: Xinhua)

An exhibition exploring the development of traditional Chinese woodblock printing opened on Monday at the Prince's Foundation School of Traditional Arts in London.

Presented in four sections, the Ten Bamboo Studio Woodblock Printing Art Exhibition examines the history of ancient Chinese woodblock printing techniques and their development in the West, and showcases the exquisite craftsmanship and cultural traditions of the art form.

Many of the 200 artworks or so on display, which were created collaboratively by a team of Chinese artists over several years, are being displayed to the British public for the first time.

One such piece is the print series 24 Solar Terms, which is based on the traditional Chinese calendar, and blends traditional Chinese woodblock printing, calligraphy and poetry with contemporary Chinese art.

The exhibition also has an interactive area where visitors can watch live demonstrations of woodblock printing or try their hands at making their own prints under the guidance of artists.

The formation of modern printing was the direct result of mutual learning between the East and the West, Yu Peng, minister counselor of the cultural office of the Chinese embassy in Britain, said at the opening ceremony.

The exhibition, which promotes cultural exchanges between China and Britain, has further strengthened this kind of mutual learning, Yu says.

As one of the China National Arts Fund programs in 2019, the exhibition, which has been organized by the Ancient Books Preservation and Conservation Association of China, the Prince's Foundation School of Traditional Arts and China's Hangzhou Ten Bamboo Studio Art Museum, will run at the PSTA through Aug 19.

Woodblock printing, which first appeared in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and reached its peak during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), is a technique for printing text, images or patterns. It was listed as an intangible cultural heritage of China in 2014.