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Hove Museum of Creativity presents Godai: Japanese Woodcuts

Japanese Woodcut Print

6 May to 12 November 2023

Free admission

Hove Museum of Creativity

Discover the meaning of life through Godai: Japanese Woodcuts at Hove Museum of Creativity

Explore the meaning of life through an exquisite exhibition of Japanese woodcut prints. This charming show is a reflection on a Japanese Buddhist philosophy known as godai; the symbiotic balance between five elements: earth, water, fire, wind and void.

Each godai is considered to have characteristics that make up a part of the whole universe. With these timeless elements in mind, we can explore life, the universe and everything through these delicate hand-printed images.

Showing exceptional understanding of line and colour, these rarely shown prints depict actors, geisha, evocative landscapes and warriors in battle scenes. They were expertly crafted by some of the great 19th century masters including Hokusai, Kunisada, Kunichika, Eizan and Hiroshige.

A series of workshops have been planned to coincide with the exhibition including manga drawing, origami and the traditional art of Japanese shibori – a form of resist stitching and dyeing with indigo dye, to be held at the Hove Museum of Creativity.

The style of prints on display is known as ukiyo-e, which means ‘pictures of the floating world’. Ukiyo-e prints show pleasurable activities in beautiful surroundings and often have stories and deeper meanings.

The exhibition focusses mainly on the latter part of the Edo period (1603 -1867), when ukiyo-e prints were at their height in both style and popularity.

The ukiyo-e style developed in Japan from the 17th century, remaining popular until the closing decades of the Meiji period (1868 – 1912). Prints were produced cheaply in large numbers as mass entertainment for the Japanese market. At that time in Japan, these prints were not considered to be valuable art. Often used as a packing material, ukiyo-e were exported to Europe, becoming the inspiration for the Japonisme art movement of the early 20th century.

Today, originals by the great artists of the ukiyo-e style are becoming increasingly scarce. These beautiful and rarely shown images are a selection from the museum’s print collection.

CEO for Brighton & Hove Museums Hedley Swain said: “We are so lucky to have a significant number of these wonderful Japanese prints in our collection. They have been beautifully preserved keeping the vivid colours from when they were created in the 19th century. They are an illustration of the richness of Brighton & Hove Museums collections reflecting cultures from around the world.”

Japanese Woodcut Print