Film


In the summer, I made a short film composed with all the little linocuts that I’ve created since the beginning of lockdown, with a voiceover of me talking about my private hopes, fears and absurdities. It’s six minutes long, with six months of prints in it: and you can see it here!

I’d like to talk about some of the extra prints which I put in the video.

Poison Cloak (2020) by Wuon-Gean Ho. Linocut 15 x 20 cm

I know we are all now wearing masks, but I couldn’t help imagining the particles of our personal microbiome spilling out into the world, touching everyone who ventures into our zone. I was temporarily obsessed with the fear of being a secret super-spreader (a person who could merrily infect dozens more than the average carrier): and whether I would find out before it was too late.

Screen Overload (2020) by Wuon-Gean Ho. Linocut and Monoprint

Working from home became a thing. It was something I was doing before, but only twice a week: now I was there all the time. I pictured my body attenuating under the strain of working through the screen, like some kind of spider trapped in a web of her own making.

Death by Email (2020) by Wuon-Gean Ho. Linocut and monoprint, 15 x 20 cm

During Spring, the weather became absolutely and infuriatingly beautiful, but outdoor time was restricted. In my little flat, stacked above and below and beside a hundred other little flats, the westerly sunshine would stream in and cook the floor and fill the room with a dancing fug of warmth. Even with every window open to the max, the heavy air brought no refreshment, and the lassitude from computer work made me wonder whether it might actually be possible to die from too many emails.

Gilded Binbag (2020) by Wuon-Gean Ho. Linocut 15 x 20 cm

I am so grateful to live alone. My space is safe and spacious for one person, and it’s the first time I have had a place I can call home. I wanted to draw this space as a kind of golden cage, but it turned out looking a little bit more like an upside-down parachute, or a bulging plastic bin bag…

Lockdown Chop (2020) by Wuon-Gean Ho. Linocut and monoprint, 15 x 20 cm

Lockdown chop: actually, I’ve cut my own hair for a while. There’s two reasons: firstly I love the sound of scissors slicing and scattering hair, it’s very soothing. Secondly, I have a mild phobia of hairdressers (they usually marvel at the coarseness and thickness and always promise they’ll do something magical, forgetting to mention that a lot of styling products will be part of the magic)… This time round, I knew that my efforts would not need approval from the outside world.

This orchid plant is a gift from my Japanese Woodblock class students at East London Printmakers from 2013. She’s moved house with me three times and always blossoms for months and months. When movement was most restricted, putting my face next to her petals made me feel so happy, as if I had come really close to another living, responsive being.

Virtual Hands (2020) by Wuon-Gean Ho. Linocut, 15 x 20 cm

When lockdown ended, I made a trip to visit my dad for the first time in months. It was so lovely to see him, yet so brief. For reasons of safety, I was not permitted to touch him, even though our usual interactions would have included me washing his face and doing his hair. I wished I could have sent over a million pairs of hands to his side of the fence.

My Love! (2020) by Wuon-Gean Ho. Linocut and Monoprint, 15 x 20 cm

I have been helping out on weekends and evenings as a vet in my local clinic. This job always provides a welcome antidote to an overdose of solo time: unlike most vet clinics this place allows clients to enter with their pets. Direct work with real living beings provided a chance for me to remain in touch with the world. Working with people and animals in real life brings so much absurdity and adrenaline…!

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

My dad’s life changed dramatically when he broke his neck (C3/4/5) 21 months ago.
Amongst other things, he lost his signature, voice and mobility, and with that a lot of his freedom, independence and identity. Recently he has started to draw. These drawings are a looping tangle of elaborate marks, some of them practicing words and thoughts, others charting the limit of his movement.IMG_1193So I drew him while he drew. We both spent about 25 minutes listening to Eva Cassidy and chatting away.WG_drawing_dad_eThe resulting drawings have been printed as four colour photo-lithographs side by side: a measure of a small bit of time spent together, side by side.IMG_1205 There is also a video of my drawing process, sped up nine times, so it’s less than three minutes long. Here is the link vimeo.com/158802185

vimeo.com/158802185

 

My mum was born in Malaysia, and came to the UK in the 60s to train as a nurse. Back then, she did not expect to meet my dad, raise a family far from her home town of Ipoh, and spend more than 50 years in the UK, speaking the third language that she has learned, surrounded by people with different ethnicity, working in hospitals as a midwife, helping my dad run a veterinary practice, and thoroughly immersing herself in the economy and politics of another place. She says there’s nothing you can’t do without a bit of effort. This was what a teacher had said when she was thinking of coming to England, even though English was her worst subject at school.

So anyway, I drew her while she told me a bit about her past. You can view the film here at vimeo.com/156493821

vimeo.com/156493821

WG_drawing_dad_eWG drawing003_mum_e.jpgOver the past year, I’ve been hanging out and making a short film portrait (26 minutes) of my parents and their quirks. Mah Soon (dad) and YY (mum) spend their retirement days doing Tai-Chi and body-building, drinking whisky, watching Tarzan and poking fun at each other, until an accident happens that alters their lives deeply.

Here it is: https://vimeo.com/147916273 the password is Stoke

I’d love to know what you think.

WG drawing005_dad_eWG drawing008_CC_e_mum

‘I’d Like to Become a Junkie for One Week or Two Weeks’ is a short extract from a video portrait of an eccentric and lovable couple from Malaysia and Singapore, who came to the UK in the 60s. They left behind extensive families, came to Britain and stayed. Creating a home from home, they surrounded themselves with an eclectic blend of East and West: English wooden furniture, rugs from the Middle East, and Asian cooking utensils; draperies of batik next to velvet curtains; English spoken with Singaporean slang; shepherd’s pie with rice and Chinese tea.

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screenshot_taichicreammah-soon hands

The Royal Mint have been working on a promotional video for the lunar year of the sheep coin. Here I am talking about sheep and printing linocuts in East London Printmakers a couple of weeks ago… Was great to watch and learn from Adam Millbank of www.jonesmillbank.com who deftly ran around the studio filming on two cameras, switching lenses, juggling lights, timing answers to account for the noisy train line that passes overhead every minute, and dispensing giant chocolate buttons to keep the whole team happy throughout the day. I think you can see the effect of the chocolate at the end!

Link to video here

This is a short clip from my newest film project, “Wait and See” which focusses on my dad: a man crazy about bodybuilding, watching Tarzan and collecting antique clocks. He had a champion body in his day, and now at the age of 75 still swims a mile every morning, lifts weights in the evenings, and keeps eating healthily. Despite all this, my mum would rather that he use those muscles on keeping her garden free from weeds…!