About Hiroko Imada at Watts

19 March - 6 October 2024

Step into the world of Japanese woodblock printing and experience a new site-specific installation in the Sculpture Gallery by artist Hiroko Imada.

Imada's work, titled 桜咲く Sakura saku ('Cherry blossoms are blooming'), celebrates the natural themes in the 19th-century prints in Edo Pop: Japanese Prints 1825 - 1895. Sakura saku is a phrase commonly used in Japan to celebrate the exam season coming to an end.

The installation demonstrates the enduring influence of the historic process of Japanese woodblock printing. Born in Tokyo (modern-day Edo), Imada brings her international exhibition experience to this showcase, having exhibited at the British Museum and Coventry Cathedral with her captivating creations.

I feel so privileged to create an installation work and a print work for the Watts Gallery. Like my Slade fellow and great female artist Mary Watts, I have a free spirit and enjoy experimenting with different media.

- Hiroko Imada

About Hiroko Imada

Born in Tokyo, Imada studied at the Tokyo Zokei University and later at the Slade School of Fine Art. She is a printmaker, painter and installation artist. With a great respect she uses Japanese traditional techniques with a contemporary twist on her works and it is inevitable to see especially on her installation works. As a printmaker, the process of making Japanese woodblock print filmed at her studio by both the British Museum and the Royal Collection Trust to run at their exhibitions. Dr. Martens also commissioned to create a print for their promotion in 2022. As a painter, Universal Pictures commissioned her to create a painting to use in the Hollywood film ‘First and Furious 9’. As an installation work artist, most recently she created a giant paper installation at Coventry Cathedral in 2021.

The inspiration behind the new work

Hiroko Imada said: "Since I was a student, I have been interested in traditional Japanese art techniques that require many years of training. I have learnt Japanese woodblock print, papermaking, folded screen making and hanging scroll making in Japan.

I noticed couple of prints from the Edo Pop exhibition have cherry blossom images so wanted to create works inspired by cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms have always meant something special to me and link to many of my memories as it blooms around the time we enter or graduate schools.

When cherry trees are in blossom it is impossible to resist their beauty even if it makes me sad that this beauty is so fleeting. At the Watts Gallery, I would like to present Cherry blossoms from my memory and inspired by the cherry blossoms in the 19th-century print collection. Through the installation, I would like audiences to feel as if they are walking through cherry blossom trees."

Examples of Hiroko Imada's work

Woodblock print artwork of swirling blues and whites by artists Hiroko Imada

Exhibition partners

Discover Japan Season at Watts Gallery