Minami Sanriku tragedy

Minami Sanriku tragedy

Last March after the tsunami struck the East-coast of Japan, the whole world could see how the tragedy unfolded via TV networks and the internet.

Videos showed the sheer enormity, speed and immense force of the mass of water which swept through the townships and villages on a scale to which this man made world had no hope standing up to.

All we could do from where we were was just watch in awe at the power of the water, in disbelief at the destruction it caused and just be very, very quiet.

This print was inspired by a video made by someone overlooking the township of Minami Sanriku - there were several shot from that particular vantage point.

The sea came in, clawing through the nearby streets and houses. Beyond there was just a moving mass of destruction and death. From between those houses emerged some people trying to run uphill and to safety.

One person was ambling along at the foot of the hill seemingly oblivious to the proximity of the water, or perhaps oblivious to the speed at which it was rushing. The people who were recording the event started shouting as if to urge him on to “run, RUN!!!”

Seeing it on a big screen felt like being there and we also called out “run, RUN” even though the event was already past. All of a sudden this one person became the focus of the whole scene and embodied for me the humanity of it all.

Minami Sanriku was once a beautiful little town of around 17,000 people. Many people made a living from fishing. Percentage-wise it was one of the hardest hit places along that coast. An estimated 10,000 people lost their lives there. As one of the local schools was on higher ground a lot of children were orphaned, losing probably not just their parents but all their extended families as well. If you look on Google Earth Minami Sanriku is now just a scar.

This is a link to a BBC web page about images made about half a year later on Japan's eastcoast.

For the key block I used linoleum. Around it a reasonable size piece of MDF of 5mm and having the registration kento on it. You can see I adjusted it for another size of paper. The colour block is a piece of pine riddled with woodworm tunnelling. I liked it. As the pine used for the colour block was about 25mm thick I slotted into a piece of 20mm MDF, on top a frame of cardboard to support the same piece of MDF with the registration used for the lino block thus ensuring perfect registration. Also because this registration board was removable I could use the brayer without the chance of smudges getting on the paper when printing.

Once the paper was placed it was topped with heavy cardboard as I was printing relief and a piece of rubber cut from a cheap mat normally used to sleep on for camping and trekking enthusiasts. This is to even out any possible irregularities and ensure equal pressure everywhere.

For the paper I used 300 grams Canson aquarelle paper. For the inks Charbonnel etching ink.

This print is made in participation with a fundraising project of the Baren Forum http://www.barenforum.org/         and the Portland Japanese Garden in Portland Oregon      http://japanesegarden.com/  All proceeds to go to the Tsunami relief funds.