HKK, a gourmet Chinese restaurant based in East London, contacted me late last year to see if I would make them eight huge prints for their Chinese New Year celebrations. As I love a challenge, I said yes.

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The storyline was about an Emperor who threw a birthday feast: here he is writing his invitations.

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The ingredients for the feast were gathered from far and wide: here they are aiming at the hawk in the sky, while people (and an enormous chicken) look for fish in the river.

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Chefs created new and beautiful dishes from the fruits of the land and sea.

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The banquet hall was decorated with splendid finery: I imagined these strange silver flagons shaped like rooster heads.

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The emperor arrived to the feast carried on a palanquin by four women (why not?) over a lavish staircase, inspired by the one that goes up to the Hall of Supreme Harmony in the Forbidden City.

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The Emperor was offered wine from a jade goblet (modelled with oak leaves taken from the design on a Dutch lamppost from Amsterdam) with gold dragons as handles.

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He joined his family and guests for a toast to health, happiness, abundance, peace and prosperity. The VIPs wore pearl necklaces and women had fresh flowers in their hair.

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After the meal, they were entertained by acrobats and ribbon dancers, harp players and singers, roosters and jugglers.

img_7391These prints were designed in four days and carved in japanese vinyl (gomuban) over 11 days: a record time for me. I made use of the Royal Academy Schools’ library where I found lots of books on Qing dynasty clothing and customs, and admired paintings of ancient landscapes, throne-rooms and interiors. I was buoyed along at this crazy pace by adrenaline and the looming Christmas deadline for approval of the images.

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Once approved, I scanned them and enlarged them to 133 x 76 cm each, and started phase two of the project: screenprinting them onto delicate shoji paper to hang in the restaurant interior. Luckily my studio, East London Printmakers, was quiet over the Christmas break, so I had enough space to work…!

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This stack of paper took over 100 hours to print… done in only 6 days.

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Finally some of the work was picked out with gold leaf. It’s not that obvious on a backlit image, but the gold shimmers in the light.

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Here are some installation shots of the work in the restaurant HKK Shoreditch, London.


The work is up until 4 March (extended an extra three weeks!) 2017. Let me know if you go along!

http://hkklondon.com/ 88 Worship Street, Broadgate Quarter, London EC2A 2BE

http://www.eastlondonprintmakers.co.uk 42 Copperfield Road, London E3 4RR

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Around November 2014 I started to make this series of works about bodies

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dancing

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intertwined

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tumbling, blurring, merging

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colliding

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diagonal lines signifying cuts in time

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faces hidden in the forest.

My works are often stories told from the heart; I think the colour makes them more emotional. In the above prints I used colour blends and irregular shifts of the paper to make playful variations: each one is totally unique. They are screen prints 112 x 76 cm large, so each was the absolute limit of my arm span.

The studio is shut at the moment, so this is a strange time: thinking rather than making, reflecting rather than doing, planning over running. It’s probably good for me!!!

 

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!

Colour pencil drawings have helped me to make colour prints again. I was keen to make new prints for a show in Southwark that opened this week, so, telling myself there was nothing to lose, I threw myself wholeheartedly into the process, like a (very) rusty jazz musician.

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Layering colour is a bit like playing a visual version of jenga. At first you feel like you could put any colour, anywhere, but after a while the game gets dangerous, one layer too many and the whole thing comes crashing down… Some of these prints were just nasty, but it was interesting to see what the subconscious mind would produce so I kept on making… And some of the prints are completely unexpected and surprising and make me smile.IMG_1013

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It’s been an interesting journey making work with no idea of what the end outcome will be. My carving is generally about concept, narrative and structure, so bringing in colour makes the prints more about emotion. I’ve enjoyed the freedom of making monoprints, and throwing together all the colours in my box of inks. (Now thinking it could be good to get in some more blues and greens…)

For those who live in London, the show is up til the end of Sunday 6th Feb, at Café Gallery, Southwark Park, London, from 11-4.

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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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My screenprint, Beyond the Moon, has been selected for the 16th International Biennial Print Exhibit in the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. The opening was today: wish I could have gone along! Show continues until 26 October so if any of you happen to be in the area, do drop by and let me know what it’s like!

beyond_moon_silkscreen_eIt’s perfect timing with respect to the recent super moon sightings in the UK in mid August….

I still have some of these prints left, so get in touch if you would like one.

 

It’s hard to show the extent of a long thin print in digital format as it looks tiny on the screen. I was excited to learn about a video editing trick using keyframes which makes the camera move along the image and then zoom out. Here is test number one. The print was a linocut which I enlarged with a photocopier and printed in two sections on a huge roll of somerset paper as a screenprint. It measures 183 x 45 cm. Next, I’m planning on using this trick to make an animation of the pages of Swallow Span, which measure 8 metres in length…