I first met Ralph, as one does, on a trip in the highlands of south-western Chiang Mai province, to a remote Pwo Karen hilltribe village near Om Koi. We were both observing the local silk weaving production of Sop Moei Arts and documenting it in our respective crafts; Ralph was sketching while I was filming. Without cell service, or even electricity, we spent the evenings lounging by candlelight encapsulated by the sounds of the jungle, contemplating all sorts of things. Somewhere in those moments we became good friends, and what a memorable start to a friendship it was.
In the following months, I continued to spend time with Ralph and gained insight into his craft. He was a visiting lecturer at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Chiang Mai University. Woodblocking printing was somewhat mysterious to me and I had no idea what differentiated Japanese woodblock printing from Chinese woodblock printing. Ralph was kind and patient enough to let me into his world.
I had the fortune of producing a video for Ralph, following his process and thoughts from sketches, to wood carving to printing. I was impressed with all the steps involved as well as the level of precision, combined with Ralph’s distinctive depictions of urbanization and nature, both abstract and not. I love his imagery and use of color: bold, vibrant and warm. He has a delightful imagination and is very connected to nature.
Ralph has had a life as colorful as his prints. An Englishman born in Africa, he arrived in England as a young child, already exposed to such varied culture and diversity. His studies took him to China and eventually Japan, where he was very much drawn to the aesthetic and would work with his most influential woodblock printing mentors. He then spent some years in Hong Kong before making Thailand his permanent home.
I am very excited share Ralph’s work as the first featured artist in my online shop! For a limited time, his limited edition woodblock prints are on offer at 20% discount when purchased through my website.
To read more about Ralph’s work, the South China Morning Post did a great interview with him.