TOOT YUNG ART CENTER INTERVIEW
Ralph Kiggell originally came to East Asia to study Chinese, living in Beijing and Yunnan, and later Hong Kong. He moved to Japan in 1990 to take up a deep interest in traditional water-based woodblock printing, first studying in the atelier of the Yoshida family of printmakers, before becoming a research student in Kyoto, and finally completing a master’s in printmaking at Tama Arts University, Tokyo, by the end of the decade. He moved to Thailand at the turn of the millennium, working from his studio in Bangkok until 2017 when he relocated to Krabi in the south.
He has taught and lectured in printmaking and drawing at Bangkok University, Chulalongkorn University and more recently at Chiang Mai University as a visiting lecturer, and also in China at the Sichuan Institute of Fine Arts in Chongqing. Kiggell exhibits widely, has had residencies in Europe, Australia, China and Japan, and held workshops around the world, including Cambodia, the US and Britain. He is currently vice chair of the International Mokuhanga Association, and a member of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers, UK.
As a British man living in Thailand, the artist explores aspects of historic exchange between Asia and Britain, as well as cultural slippage, craftsmanship, identity and crossover in globalized times. Much of Kiggell’s work also celebrates the natural environment, using the organic, mostly non-toxic materials, of traditional Asian woodblock printing (paper, water, ink and wood) to highlight ecological concerns. His experiments and innovations with the medium draw on wide references, creating prints that further our understanding of the range of woodblock printing and help redefine this craft and art in the 21st century.