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…!

I thought it would be funny to make very purely digital images in Japanese woodblock technique. 01_smileyrock_drawingdesigns.JPGThe contrast in time couldn’t be greater

02_smileyrock_planningblocks.jpg one tap of a button for the computer

03_smileyrock_carvingwood.JPGtranslated to a long time to carve some wood

04_smileyrock_woodblocks.JPG then get paper dampened, 06_smileyrock_soakingpaper.JPGthen patient printing by hand, 08_smileyrock_paint_palettes.JPGinvolving a gradual building up of colour over a few hours to days…

10_smileyrock_prints.JPGSmiley Rock 1

It was entertaining, and laborious, and then just a little bit overwhelming.

Smiley Rock 2

After a while I wanted to record the actual process rather than the final images

and then I started to worry about why I was trying to make perfectly registered images each time, when really the process of making the prints would naturally generate interesting frames.
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Smiley Rock 3

So the eyeballs swivel around and then bounce out of the head, and I made some dark lashes and a kind of fluttery blink…

Smiley Rock deconstructed

All in all I made 51 prints, but there are many more photos as they also record the build up of colour on each piece of paper.

Smiley Rock on the bedIt’s still very rough round the edges. I’m working on a new version with musician Eliot Kennedy, who has made a really upbeat and jolly tune!

Check out the vimeo file here

OR if the link isn’t working you can type in https://vimeo.com/237974015

 

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

Here is the promotional video for the Royal Mint Lunar collection, showing more about the design process for the 2016 Chinese Lunar Year of the Monkey. I can’t believe the stuff they do at Mint when it comes to making the dies and polishing them: when I realised it’s all done by hand I felt really bad for making such a fiddly design to polish to get that mirror finish…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYb7_A5mQL8

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYb7_A5mQL8

‘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

My first edited video that isn’t a stop frame animation! It’s about the current themes of weightlessness and flight; dreams and reality; levity and gravity; fabric and flesh. The slow motion part of cloth and body rising and falling is fascinating for me. I can’t believe how surreal reality appears to be. That’s one of the big paradoxes of photography; how can we believe what it shows when the human eye perceives something completely different? Something to ponder for the weekend…

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