Books


WG show invite june 2016My mum, a former nurse and midwife, is a constant source of amusement for the whole family, with her clear ideas on celebrity drugs (‘I just want a happy death’), keen interest in UKIP, and dirty humour when it comes to talking about the body. Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 13.40.52She has been a brilliant model to film over the past two years: a natural actress who loves having the camera listen to her radical views. Getting older and weaker has made her more inventive, more resilient and resourceful. Even though the journey to see my dad in the care home is a four hour return trip, and her vision and balance is ropey, she will still plug into her ipod, hop on the bus and enjoy the ride. Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 10.47.42She definitely has the balls. So, I made her a ring with a pair of balls which she gleefully refers to as Mao’s testicle ring (she misheard me when I said I’d made a ring with mouse testicles).  pendulous ring The above is a 3D file which was then printed on a 3D printer in wax. This was then attached to a ‘tree’ for casting in silver. Most of the rings I’ve been making over the past couple of years are hand-built and carved out of wax, so working with a 3D printed model is a new departure.IMG_1221IMG_1713 1As she has also survived breast cancer, I made her a breast ring too, which is meant to be worn with the nipple fitting snugly in the palm of the hand.IMG_2532_e_breast ringOnce I got into the idea of rings as trophies of desirable or missing body parts I couldn’t stop making them. Here is the bush ring. IMG_2503_bush ring_eThe film I made of my parents, Stoke Junkie, alongside more rings, books and prints will be displayed at the Royal College of Art Sculpture building, 15-25 Howie Street, Battersea, SW11 4AS from 26 June to 3 July. 12–8pm every day (apart from closed on 1 July). Drop me a line if you can make it! I’d love to show you around.

If you can’t make it, the film can be viewed at low res on vimeo here https://vimeo.com/170349107 (sorry the sound quality is not great)

And the trailer is here https://vimeo.com/168034112

I’ve been obsessed with the word Orchis (the ancient Greek word for testicle) ever since I discovered that Orchids were named after the shape of their bulbs.

orchis books line_eIt amuses me that such a lavishly feminine flower comes from such a masculine shaped object. orchis one straight_eI’ve been working on this series of prints called Orchis for the past few months. This has led me onto making these works about sexuality, touch and desire, involving orchids and chrysanthemums, amongst other symbols.

orchis two solo_eI wanted to make images that convey the feeling of closeness to another body and communication through emotion.This is not from an external view, a photographic view, a logical view, but from feeling, the sensation of being inside one’s own skin: a rendition of position, muscle memory, and distortion around a point that radiates from the inner eye.

orchis three solo_eThe landscapes are internal ones that flow and merge from bodies into plants and flowers, jungle and folded fabric, between figures that are solid and those that seem to shimmer and disappear.

orchis four_solo_eI wanted to make black and white linocut prints with a binary code that could potentially appear blurry; lines that evoke sensation rather than logic.

orchis five_solo_eIt made sense to fold the prints into a book form, rather than display them as flat images on the wall, as I wanted the viewer to touch the books and alter the shape of the sculptural space that they make, and also rearrange the timelines and view the pages in any order.

orchis six solo_eThe books have a very simple accordion fold, such that each of the three panels that make up the linocut print come out towards the viewer. The unfolded print is about 92 cm long, which fits nicely within the arm span: a book that tests the limit of the arm stretch.

orchis seven_solo_eThe accordion fold makes a syncopated rhythm to the shape of the print, which can be read in any direction. The folds can be manipulated to hide sections and join parts of the image to distant areas.orchis eight solo_eWhile the prints are related, they are each a chapter within the series rather than one continuous story. Nine was the natural number that happened. When eight books are lined up in a row, they fit the length of the ninth book on display.orchis nine solo_e

I had fun deciding the colour for each book’s cover, which is made from fabric covered book board. The title Orchis and the number of the book are printed from a laser cut block which was made to the shape of my handwriting. I used these blocks to print acrylic size, and then applied gold leaf. orchis one_lowview_e

Having made them all, I’m now thinking of ways of displaying them such that they can be viewed as a whole, but read one at a time.

Orchis Series (2016)

Handcarved and printed linocut in three panels on lambeth cartridge, laser cut block and gold leaf text, leporello. Edition 30 (1-5 will be a complete set). 295 x 157 x 5mm

In December last year I was invited to teach animation and artists’ books in Changsha Normal University, China. I had a great time! The students were enthusiastic and technically brilliant and we had a fun time working individually and collaboratively.

IMG_1561While I was in China I made a trip to Beijing, and visited a very strange theme park (whose name I’ve forgotten) full of examples of architecture from all over China. The house that took my fancy was called Fujian House: a reconstruction of the traditional architecture of the region, complete with elaborate brickwork, cool inner courtyards, dining room and beautiful snail antenna shaped roof details.

IMG_5469I know my great grandparents came from Fujian, so I started to imagine that I was visiting them, and that we were about to have some tea together. As I paced the courtyards I started to believe that they were just in the adjacent rooms.

IMG_1560So I made a book called Fujian House. The inner courtyard is replicated inside the book, so when you pull the book apart to form a central square, you can look around the courtyard. The brickwork is on the outside walls. When you half open the book there is a pregnant cat, lying on the ground, just relaxing.IMG_1574

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The book will be on display as part of the East London Printmakers Maker Library, launch event this Friday 1 April 2016, 6-9 pm.

More details here

https://www.facebook.com/events/1672251663046870/

Friday 1 April 6-9 pm.
East London Printmakers
19 Warburton Road, London, E8 3RT

Please come!

I just got back from a trip to the US where I spent time with many lovely friends and hung out in the forests and fields, forgetting about the hustle of London life. It was exactly what I was longing for: no near-death misses on my bike, no sirens all night, no tube strikes and city-wide roadworks: hurrah, instead the sound of the sea from my cabin at night, and lots of time outdoors. So I thought I would bring out my sketchbook, something that was a constant companion until I suddenly stopped a few years ago. One drawing a day, I thought, and I didn’t quite make it, but here are some of them.
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ForestIMG_3891_e

Grass Mountain

IMG_3892_eGrass Mountain
IMG_3893_eView of the sand spit from Cascade headIMG_3894_eView of Cascade head from the sand spit

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Sitka Center for Arts and EcologyIMG_3895Bus to Seattle, with annoying stranger who leaned on my arm the whole trip… ;(IMG_3882_ePrint Zero print studio in Seattle, run by Brian LaneIMG_3878_e

Brian LaneIMG_3879_e

Brian in pub

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Great show about disguise at the Seattle Art MuseumIMG_3897_e

IMG_5921_eThe rolling fields near Weston, OrIMG_5922_eIMG_5923_eSt Andrew’s Mission graveyard
IMG_5924_eOh the greyhound bus, next to prophets and veteransIMG_5925_eMo Osorio in LAIMG_5926_eDaisy and BongoIMG_5927_eJack Doyle’s cameraIMG_5928_eCabin in the forest
IMG_5919_eColumbia River GorgeIMG_3900_e

Hestia and MekoIMG_3899_e

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Greyhound, againIMG_3884_eOf course, many memories were undrawable, unphotographable, just nice to experience.

I was also fortunate to spend a few days in the beautiful Crow’s Shadow Press in eastern Oregon, which I first visited almost 10 years ago. It was great to catch up with friends, and breathe in the desert air, even though it actually rained there in August for the first time in years. I started to make a series of reduction prints which I am still working on now: here is a sneak preview.

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Wouldn’t it be great if this were an animation??

Hmmmmmmmmm, maybe.

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Swallow is a book about a dream world where birds and people mingle and merge. Initially it was eight metres long, folded into sections that required a huge sweep of the arms in order to turn the pages. I’ve remade the book in an accordion format , taking the images down to six metres, and using hand-applied gold leaf for the title. It now measures a very compact 22 x 25 cm. The word Swallow means to swallow as well as the swallow a bird, and I like to play on this double meaning. The phrases Swallow Span, swallow me up, and the Swallow’s dream are the only text in the book, which can be read in a circular fashion so that there is no real beginning or end.

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It is a coincidence that my mum’s Chinese name is Swallow.

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I’m very happy to announce I’ve been awarded two prizes in the past month!

I was awarded First Prize for my books in the competition, Books of Desire, in the Classense Library, Ravenna, Italy.

This was for three books: EMBRACEDEVOURBAMBOO DREAM

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The jury commented as follows:

La giuria ha riconosciuto nelle opere di Wuon-Gean Ho, non solo una straordinaria perizia tecnica e una padronanza assoluta di mezzi espressivi estremamente ardui da maneggiare ma, soprattutto, la capacità di porre ogni tecnica grafica al servizio di un immaginario “universale”; insomma un vero genio della pratica grafica e delle sue implicazioni coniugate alla contemporaneità.

(Which google translate says means, ‘The jury recognized in the works of Wuon-Gean Ho, not only an extraordinary technical expertise and an absolute mastery of the expressive means extremely difficult to handle but, most importantly, the ability to ask any graphic technique at the service of an imaginary “universal”; in short, a true genius of the practice and its implications graphics conjugated to the contemporary.’) (!?!!!)

The show runs until the 7th June, so there’s still a few days left to see it, if you are in the area. For more information please see here.

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And I’ve just received the British Institution Award at the Royal Academy Summer Show which opened today, for my book, Unending Forest, that I made last year after a stay in Wales, combining the forest from West Wales with trees in East London.

The Royal Academy Summer Show is the world’s largest open entry exhibition and says,

‘We’ve been holding the show for nearly 250 years – that’s nine British monarchies, 43 US Presidents, two World Wars and more than 50 British Prime Ministers. Throughout that time, the Summer Exhibition has remained a powerful barometer of the art of each age. And the same simple premise has always applied – anyone can enter and all of the works are chosen by leading artists.’

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Due to a camera malfunction there are no pictures of me receiving the prize, but here are some pictures of the general knees up afterwards!

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I’m completely over the moon to be selected for both of these…

If you are in London, the RA Summer Show is from 9 June – 17 August, more information online here

 

 

Hot off the press is my motto, and here is a sneak insight into the book I am working on for a show that opens at the Westminster Library next Saturday 22nd June.

The title of the show is Unending, which is a theme that has resonated with me for the past year, ever since the proposal was made. Taken from a lyrical piece of text about an unending library from Borges, I took to thinking about an unending forest, thus the forest prints were born.

Here are two linocuts of two different forests, one in Hackney and the other in Aberystwyth. The one in Hackney was made after the surprise snow that filled Londoners’ hearts with glee one magical weekend in January. The Aberystwyth print was made towards the close of the Moon show.

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I thought it would be interesting to combine the two forests in an accordion book such that they cannot ever be viewed in their entirety without the viewer moving around. The scene only joins up when you open the book and peer at it at a certain angle, much like those anamorphic paintings from Holbein’s day. The forests too have been split so that they are back to back on the same piece of paper, so the memory of the forest on one side of the book has to be joined up mentally with the forest on the other side…

All in all, a creation of a fantasy!

Here are some pictures of the final book. The title is embossed on the front and back covers, and cryptically reversed to encourage you to view the other side. When you fold the pages out, the landscape looks confusing; it is only when you move to the right angle that the trees line up.

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If you are in London- please come along! The show was extended for another two weeks so now runs until 27 July, Westminster Reference Library, 35 St Martin’s Street, London WC2H 7HP

 

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