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

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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!

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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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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

 

The Al-Mutanabbi street project, coordinated by Beau Beausoleil and Sarah Bodman, challenged over 300 artists to respond to the impact of a car bombing in a street of book shops in Iraq in 2007. I decided to enlist the collaboration of a poet, Ingrid Scheider, and a letterpress artist Umberto Giovannini to make my response to the project.

On reflection, I realised that I wanted to explore the  impact of such trauma on our perceptions of time and space. I started with folding paper to make a simple book with three double pages, with the central spread folded in on itself to reveal a space behind… It’s difficult to explain but perhaps you can see from the photos what I mean.

The first and last spreads show the figure of a sleeping girl taken from the beginning of Swallow Span, split by this central spread that seems to explode as you open the pages out.

 

 

The pocket of paper behind the folded area reveals a glimpse of colour, and tells of the humanity and life stories which were erased by these events. The final page symbolises the future, where a bird flies up from the girl’s hands, and the endurance of creativity is celebrated.

 

 

This was my first experience of a collaborative process. Ingrid Scheider came to the studio to look at my prints. The book had not yet been made, and we spent an afternoon working on splitting an image of a sleeping figure from one of my older prints with space for text. I really wanted her words to have prominence or an equal balance in the final piece.

I like the poem that she made because of its balance and rhythm, which fits the format well.

“Burning fires that now as ashes lie

Pallid sphere that was the sun

Our muse had flown, our words were broken

But once again, the dawn is come”

After I’d printed the book as a 5 colour double sided silkscreen on lambeth drawing cartridge, we roughed out where we wanted the words to be, and I posted them all to Umberto in Italy, via a friend who I’d bribed with icecream money in lieu of postage… There were a huge set of instructions (15 points long) on how to fold it, with numerous mock ups and scribbled text on proofs. Umberto set the type, tried various fonts and colours and positions, and emailed images over to me in America (where I was teaching for the summer).

The final piece is something that I could never have made alone, and I am really pleased with the result!

 

“Swallow Span” is a long narrative book made of 20 linocut monoprints arranged as a concertina, within a book cover that measures 180 cm when fully open. To turn the pages the viewer has to use the full sweep of their arm span, echoing the title of the book.

The story is about a girl’s dream. From her sleeping figure spills a strange nighttime sequence, where birds inhabit indoor spaces, and shadowy figures float and meet each other in a dark garden. The perspective lurches and tilts matching a bird’s swooping gaze. The imagery and storyline in the book becomes folded into pages, and we realise that it is a book within a book, with the creative process including ink, notes and sketches depicted at the end.

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Hooray, Design Week have featured my show in their website. To read the article, please follow this link:

http://www.designweek.co.uk/whats-on/wuon-gean-ho-flight/3034485.article

Meanwhile, all the work has been delivered, apart from the pages of my new book “Swallow” which are steaming hot from having been freshly printed today. I really enjoyed the sample of Gamblin Portland Intense Black relief ink that I received at the SGCI conference, and used it to the very last drop… It went a surprisingly long way, I’m sure I got 100 prints out of a 50ml tube!

This is another of the pages, at the proofing stage.

I enjoyed the thinness but richness of the ink. Here I selectively wiped one area of the block and rolled up with a sparsely charged roller to get the grey and the black differences. Will post more pages once I’ve scanned them in.