Japanese-born artist Mai Osawa –one of the 2017 artists in residence at Guildford’s Ochre Print Studio – has won acclaim for her depiction of one of Chichester’s great landmarks.
“One of my drypoint etching prints Chichester Cross was awarded Best in Show in The Hahnemühle Mini Print Exhibition 2017, selected from over 400 prints,” says Mai. “I am pleased as the Cross was one of my favourite subjects.”
The Hahnemühle Mini Print Exhibition tours Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire until Dec.
Mai, a graduate of Nihon University in Tokyo, worked as a set designer for many years in Japan before moving to the UK in 2002. Once in the UK, while continuing to design sets, she broadened her art practice to include freelance design and illustration. Mai published a book about British church architecture illustrated with her own watercolours.
“I have always been fascinated by the old stone buildings of this country, and I started to draw them as a way to study ancient buildings closely. I wanted to know what it must have been like to be a mason or architect, and although drawing was a great way to learn about the architecture, I still didn’t feel I could say ‘I now know what it was like to actually create such a work’.
“Drawing is perhaps too easy a way to explore the complex process that masons had to go through as they struggled to create such wonderful stone works whereas the physical process of creating a perfect print is almost as challenging as it is for a mason to achieve a perfect building or carving. In this way I find printmaking more satisfying.
“My Chichester Cross print is done by a technique called drypoint etching. It is a simple printmaking process, using a sharp metal point called a drypoint needle. With this tool, you scratch the line directly onto a metallic material or simply a sheet of plastic. By doing this you create on both sides of the line a ridge known as the burr which holds a quantity of ink, which then prints as a rich feathery smudge. This creates the effect I am looking for in both drawing and sculpture.
“It is the perfect technique for my Great British Architecture series which I started a few years ago. It is an on-going project, a collection of prints celebrating some of the architectural treasures I have visited and been inspired by during my travels around the British Isles over the last ten years, illustrating my husband, Christopher Winn’s, I Never Knew That book series.
“Chichester Cross is undoubtedly one of England’s most beautiful medieval market crosses and is in an architectural style known as Perpendicular, popular in the 15th and early 16th centuries. It still marks the centre of the town.”