Learn Suminagashi, the Japanese art of floating inks on water

Jun 20, 2016, 08:36 IST | Krutika Behrawala

Learn the ancient, beautiful-but-obscure Japanese art of floating inks on water at an introductory workshop

About a year ago, Shivangi Gupta, a city-based advertising professional and artist chanced upon a work of Garip Ay, a Turkish artist who uses the traditional Ibru art form, which involves creating images on a water surface and transferring it onto paper. Researching further, the 27-year-old traced its origin to the Japanese art form, Suminagashi (sue-me-NAH-gah-she), which literally means ‘ink-floating’.

Cosmic Flower

"It is believed to be the oldest water marbling technique, which is essentially the art of painting on the surface of water and taking prints. Originally, prints were taken on rice paper, fabrics and other absorbent surfaces," shares Gupta, who experimented with various water marbling techniques and worked on live music/art shows with fellow artists before launching her label Tint Shade, last December, to make handcrafted and customised goods using Suminagashi. This Sunday, Gupta will conduct a four-hour hands-on workshop (a first under the label) at The Hive to introduce city’s art enthusiasts to the beautiful-yet-obscure art form.


Tracing Suminagashi
While the art is believed to have originated in China over 2,000 years ago, it was practised by Shinto priests in Japan as early as 12th century. "They were the first ascetics to adopt the technique as a form of meditation by floating inks on water and taking prints on rice paper. Marbled paper was used to mark important scriptures as originals and soon the trend migrated to Turkey, India and parts of Europe," informs Gupta. However, despite the popularity it once enjoyed, the art form is now considered forgotten. "It is a time-consuming process and procurement of all necessary materials can be challenging. Mass digital reproductions of original Suminagashi works have also made it less viable commercially. Only a handful of contemporary artists are using it as their medium of expression," she adds.

The Garden
The Garden

At the workshop, each participant (any one above 10 years of age) will be provided with a marbling tray that acts as the basin for the water, Carrageenan powder (a thickening agent for the water), acrylic paints, droppers and four sheets of paper. They only need to carry a medium-sized rag. "Participants will use acrylic paints and take prints on paper. The aim of the workshop is to revive the art form and bring together a collective of artists from all fields to explore its true potential, be it in the field of art, films, music, fashion, photography or film-making," Gupta signs off.

Shivangi Gupta
Shivangi Gupta

ON June 26, 5 pm to 9 pm (10 participants only)
AT The Hive, 50-A, Huma Mansion, Chuim Village Road, off Union Park, Khar (W).
LOG ON TO www.bookmyshow.com
COST Rs 3,000

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