Floating Worlds: Japanese Woodcuts Exhibition at Brighton Museum

An introduction to Floating Worlds, our new temporary exhibition opening on 28 September in Brighton Museum.

Two ladies in kimonos with man in robes to right and shorter figure to the left. Japenese script in box at top left.
Outside Takimura Ise-Ya, Kitagawa Kikumaro.
Photography: James Pike

Where are these Floating Worlds?

The Floating Worlds exhibition invites you to experience the sights of 19th century Japan. Explore the city of Edo (now called Tokyo), visit the Kabuki theatre, watch fireworks and peek into private spaces. To get some air, take a stroll through the Japanese countryside, see the sea or climb high into the mountains. Guided by haiku poetry, immerse yourself in the celebrations and ceremonies of everyday life.

What is a woodcut?

The process of creating a woodcut involves an engraver pasting an artist’s drawing face-down on a block of wood, cutting through the paper with a chisel to transfer the lines onto the block, destroying the original drawing in the process. This is creates the key block.

Prints are taken from the key block and individually coloured by the artist in a single colour or wash. Using these prints as a guide, multiple colour blocks are made, each to enable a different coloured area to be printed. A sheet of damp mulberry bark paper is laid face-down onto each of the blocks to build up layers of colours and patterns to form one picture.

Below are a select few images of the woodcuts on display. The original works can be seen in the exhibition in Brighton Museum from 28 September 2019 until 12 January 2020.


Several events will accompany the exhibition. Click on the links to find out more:

Tasha Brown, Museum Futures Trainee

3 Responses


    Could you please just let me know how many woodcuts you will have on display and the main artists.
    Many thanks
    Geoff Thomas

    • tashabrown

      Hello Geoff,

      There are 60 prints in the exhibition and artists include Kunisada, Hiroshige, Kuniyoshi, Utamaro and Tsukimaro just to name a few.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *