Ralph Kiggell obituary | Art

My brother-in-law, Ralph Kiggell, who died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 62, was an artist whose main medium was water-based woodblock printing (mokuhanga). Always developing new ideas and projects, he has also created large paper cut-outs and collages, illustrated compilations of writings and poetry, and produced artists’ books, murals and mosaic installations.

Ralph was born in Ndola, Zambia to English parents, John, a probation officer, and Phyl (née Thompson), an artist and Slade graduate. The family returned to the UK in 1965 and Ralph then attended a state boarding school, Lord Williams’s in Thame, Oxfordshire. After studying Chinese language and culture at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, Ralph lived in Kunming, China, and Hong Kong, where he worked as an editor.

Ralph Kiggell in front of his suite of giant prints, The Hunter, during his solo exhibition at the Toot Yung Art Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in 2020. Photographer: Alex de Blonay

In 1990, he decided to quit publishing and embark on wood engraving. He moved to Japan, first studying at the Tokyo workshop of the famous Yoshida family of printmakers, then working with Akira Kurosaki at Seika University in Kyoto. In 1999, he obtained a master’s degree in printmaking at Tama Art University in Tokyo. After meeting his Thai partner, Ken Somboon, he moved to Bangkok, where he set up his studio. He married Ken in 2011 and has enjoyed being part of Ken’s extended family.

A series of prints from the Temple Dogs series by Ralph Kiggell, 2002.
A series of prints from the Temple Dogs series by Ralph Kiggell, 2002.

Much of Ralph’s work celebrates the natural environment, using the organic elements of traditional Asian woodblock printing (paper, water, ink, and wood) to create bold images of landscapes, ferns, flowers, or flowers. ‘animals. He used the jigsaw technique to create large prints infused with color and form that reflect his surroundings, whether original urban views, abstract landscapes or depictions of Thai flora and fauna. vibrant.

Pinecone, from Ralph Kiggell's Sacred Shapes series in 2013.
Pinecone, from Ralph Kiggell’s Sacred Shapes series in 2013. Photographer: Alex de Blonay

He has exhibited extensively and participated in artist residencies around the world. His prints and books are held in a number of private and public collections, including the British Library, US Library of Congress and the Yale Center for British Art. He was Vice President of the International Mokuhanga Association from 2017 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers. His book The Third Thing, a collaboration with Old Stile Press, won the British Book Award in Book Design and Binding in 2014. Ralph was also a generous and inspiring teacher, lecturing on printmaking at Thai and Chinese universities and enthusiastically sharing his knowledge and experience at international workshops and symposia.

An intrepid traveler and avid swimmer, Ralph was calm but extremely charismatic, with a witty, mischievous sense of humor and a delight in the absurd. Spending time with Ralph was always fun. Kind, observant and caring, he had a great gift of friendship, putting enormous effort into his relationships with friends and family.

He is survived by Ken, his stepmother, Jackie, and his five brothers, Tim, Giles, Stephen, Chris and Paul.

Comments are closed.