Carol Wilhide Justin

Q&A | Carol Wilhide Justin discusses her passion for Japanese woodcut printing

20 May 2022
Posted in: Courses

Ahead of a new term of courses, artist Carol Wilhide Justin tell us about the art of Japanese woodcut printing and its various techniques. 

Carol has spent her career studying and teaching the art of Japanese woodblock printing. Here, she tells us about her new City Lit course, her inspiration and her upcoming projects. 

We offer a variety of Japanese woodcut printing and techniques courses at City Lit.
Carol's new course 'Developing Japanese woodcut techniques' starts this August. 

Tell us a little about yourself and your teaching

A: I have been teaching Japanese woodcut at City Lit and other colleges across London for many years now. I learnt the technique in Japan from Japanese sensei (with a translator!) at a wonderful residency called MI-Lab located next to Lake Kawaguchi with the astonishing view of nearby Mount Fuji. After my residency I was able to further embed the technique into my practice by doing an MA at the Royal College of Art. Japanese woodcut or Mokuhanga as it is called is an environmentally friendly process with no toxic materials that with a modest outlay can be set up at home. The prints are handprinted with a baren, nori (paste made from rice flour) and watercolour pigments.

"Japanese woodwcut or Mokuhanga as it is called is an environmentally friendly process with no toxic materials that with a modest outlay can be set up at home."

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Q: What kind of projects are you currently working on as an artist?

A: As well as my teaching, I exhibit my Japanese woodcut prints widely in London and abroad. My prints are held in various collections including Clifford Chance, V&A, RCA, Awagami and Kunstmuseum in Reutligen. I am an accredited lecturer for The Arts Society where I speak about Japanese Woodcut and this year I have been invited to write a book on the subject. It is due for publication in 2024 and will showcase the diversity of work from contemporary practitioners of this fascinating technique.

Q: What did you do prior to teaching

A: Before I discovered Japanese Woodcut I worked as a freelance illustrator for editorial publications, designing record sleeves and working in publishing as a book jacket designer. My main practice then was linocut which is a relief printing process. After my children were born I retrained and gained a PGCE in Art Education at the London Institute part of London University this enabled me to design and facilitate my own art workshops in schools and has certainly helped my current teaching in Adult education.

Q: What courses are you teaching this teaching this term?

A: I’m happy to say that my “Introduction to Japanese Woodcut” classes continue to be very popular, and I am delighted that City Lit are offering the opportunity for students to learn more about this exciting technique in Developing Next Steps. In these classes students will learn a more advanced way of cutting using the traditional tool the hangi-tō that frees the wrist enabling fine cursive lines to be cut. We will work with Hokusai prints, practise the traditional method of image transfer hanshita and print using graduated tones bokashi.

Q: If you were to learn something new at City Lit, what would you choose?

A: I did learn Japanese for two years and can ask politely the way to the station ( not sure I would understand the answer!) but I had to give it up when I was just too busy. I think learning another language is a way of understanding the culture better, the things that are given names and valued, in Japanese for instance, there is a word for ’the dappled light that falls through trees’ it is “komorebi”.

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Discover our printmaking courses

At City Lit, we offer a wide range of printmaking courses, aimed at catering for your interest whether you are a complete beginner or an experienced artist. Our printmaking studio is a communal space that celebrates the joy of working alongside others in pursuit of printmaking excellence.

We specialise in etching, screen-printingrelief and multi-media combinations

All our tutors are artist practitioners with hands-on expertise. They are there to help you explore and challenge yourself towards making beautiful prints to take home or exhibit..