Summary

Dr Eric Hochberg was Museum Victoria's 1985 Thomas Ramsay Science & Humanities Fellow. Dr Hochberg, a cephalopod researcher, also specialises in the traditional Japanese nature printing technique, Gyotaku. The objective of nature printing is to express the essence of nature through the medium of paper or cloth and ink. Fishermen would make gyotaku to preserve records of their catches. The oldest recorded gyotaku dates back to 1862. Lord Sakai of the Yamagata prefecture, having harvested a particularly large catch in a single night wanted to record the event, prints were made of large red sea bream. The simple elegance of common subjects is preferred. Whether weed, shell, or fish, each animal or plant has its own unique texture, shape and energy. By isolating the subject in the negative space on a sheet of paper this signature can be identified. The results are zen-like renderings that praise the diversity and beauty of nature.

Hochberg's works recreate schools of fishes, depth perspectives of plants and a sense of motion and life. There are two methods of gyotaku; the indirect method involves placing the paper on top of a prepared specimen, and applying the ink to the paper using a small cloth blotter. The final result is an accurately sized, slightly abstract impression. The direct method, which Hochberg uses here, differs in that the ink is applied to the specimen before the paper is applied, resulting in an exact replica of the specimen. The specimen was collected from Yarra Bend Park in Victoria by Eric Hochberg. The print was produced the next day, October 14th 1985 as part of an exhibition demonstration at Museum Victoria.

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