Most years for Valentine’s I hide away in the studio and make pictures, but this year was different. I was invited to give a talk at Wrexham’s Regional Print Centre at Coleg Cambria, as part of their Print Symposium, and seeing as it was Valentine’s Day I thought I would theme the talk around Love.

IMG_3172

It is a theme that I have been preoccupied by for many years: prints can be, after all, a token of affection, especially when each is handmade with love. I have explored making prints about love and connection with animals (Spirit and Guardian); sensual love (the Orchis Series); things I love and that make me laugh (Little Linocut Series); and fantastical love stories (Lansu Garden Series, China Love Series), with birds (Swallow Span) and beasts (Devour) that jump straight out from my imagination.

Talking about caesareans

Talking about caesareans. Photograph by Wiktoria Przekora

My current series of works (the little linocuts) has been all about a kind of loving conversation with my dad (without that sounding too weird, I just want to cheer him up with something more concrete that lasts longer than the short time we have together)…

Talking about the Olympic pool

The Olympic Pool and its ridiculous hairdryer situation… Photograph by Wiktoria Przekora

_MG_1417

Clockwise from left, Vasile, me, Tony, Mum and Dad

WG talking about her linocut process

Showing my linocut process: I draw directly on the block. Photograph by Wiktoria Przekora

Anyway there are 35 of these prints now, and I showed my working process (I draw directly on the block) as well as bringing all the BAT (bon a tirer) proofs to Wrexham to show the delegates at the conference after my talk,. These BAT proofs are covered with notes and colour swatches and printing instructions.

IMG_3209

IMG_E3134

I made a special Valentine’s print for sale at the conference, as well as a New Year Card for the Year of the Dog, and enjoyed meeting the other presenters and chatting with the delegates.

IMG_3137

Despite all the excitement of being with a group of printmakers (surely the friendliest bunch, ever), I had to leave early…

IMG_3256

I had an evening reception to attend at Buckingham Palace! I’m not sure how the invitation came my way, or who nominated me, but I was really happy to be invited as an artist, not as a vet.

IMG_3214

After the invitation came, I started to feel completely unworthy of a royal visit. In my life there are many chaotic elements, strivings, failures and disappointments: all my possessions crammed into one room

Rainbow Room

living in a wild and ugly part of town,

Whitechapel Wind yellow_crop_e

a patchwork of jobs and commitments,

the_Scream_e

long neglected friendships, a fridge that needs cleaning, a bike that needs new parts, a diary with scrambled deadlines, a pile of prints that threatens to collapse on top of me. I didn’t feel glamorous enough, or successful enough to be asked along.

Spotlight_crop_e

After some excruciating trips to fancy shops that I would normally never go to (what’s the point of an outfit where you can’t move your arms?) my dear sister Feng Ho, an ethical fashion designer, stepped in and offered one of her bespoke jackets for the occasion, and ethical handbag designer Embellished Truth lent me the statement bag.

Wuon-Gean Ho wearing jacket by Feng Ho and carrying Embellished Truth handbag

Image by British Ceremonial Arts, copyright The Crown.

You aren’t allowed to take photos or record anything when you are in the Palace, so I wrote the description below for my instagram page the following day, when everything was sparkling and fresh in my mind…

***

The Palace is a bit like stepping inside a lavish cake. A red carpet takes you up three flights to a domed lobby, a perfectly white and gold studded ceiling. Prince Albert, looking young, in marble, stands in an alcove, and I’m sure there’s another statue of Albert facing himself, in a weird parallel world. A marble girl plays with a dog, her hand buried in its fur. Heavy sparkling chandeliers glitter. The ceiling is far away, the carpet so so soft.

Every surface is embellished with gilded twisted vines, intricate repeated oak leaves and acorns, goat hooves, naked women clutching their breasts, lions feet on every chair and lions heads on the armrests. There are crests and shields, fleur de lys and red pentagonal roses, Corinthian columns and swirling mirror surrounds. Ming vases, rosewood inlays, opal cabuchons, a pair of pink thrones, embroidered ER on the left, and P on the right.
In the picture gallery, Rembrandt, Vermeer(the light! The shades of blue!), Frans Hals, van Eyck, Rubens, there, on the wall. I spent a while gazing entranced at the Rembrandt portrait of Agatha Bas. Her creamy skin glows in the light, and her hand posed casually on the picture frame makes you think she is just there, beyond the archway.

Carved wooden vines sprout from doorways and birds nestle on swagged foliage on the walls. A pair of mirrors reflect you into a blue limpid infinity. Marble girls posed casually, resting an elbow on either side of the fireplace, hold yet more abundant grape vines. I tried the sofa out for comfort, it was padded with fraying satin, the silky fabric split by regal weight.

The Queen is so pretty she has a soft sparkling air and smiles at everyone, calmly greeting everyone individually. They read out your name from the pink card so she knows who you are. She gave me her gloved hand and I didn’t kiss it but shook it awkwardly with a half curtsey but didn’t fall over, hurrah (oops clumsy me)…

***

Sheika bag by Embellished Truth

When things have settled down, perhaps some of these things will emerge in new work, who knows. In the meantime, I’ve cleaned the fridge, repaired the doors, done some laundry, and started to tidy up some of the piles of paper… just in case she ever wants to visit me in return…!

Advertisements
Shedreamsofflowers_mini

She Dreams of Flowers

I’m very happy to be one of the 30 shortlisted artists for this printmaking prize in Belgium 2018 http://award.renecarcan.be/

RA Schools Lick the Moon_ee

RA Schools, Lick the Moon

The works I submitted are selected from the diary prints: little linos that I’ve been making, more or less every 10-14 days, ever since I started the fellowship at the Royal Academy Schools in October 2016.

IMG_9833

Green block for This Granny Can

I set myself some rules: all the prints would be made from blocks which measure 15 x 20 cm, and that there would only be two of them.

this granny can_cropped_e

This Granny Can

If I wanted more colours, I could make blends of ink and print them on top of each other.

Rainbow Room

Rainbow Room

In many of the prints, I used selective inking and wiping to achieve the effects that I wanted. So on the print above, the face and arms have only one coat of ink, whereas the rest of the block has been inked up four times.

IMG_1238

My ink!

Deciding which colours would work best has been a huge learning curve for me.

CTP Made of Earth, We Are

Colour Trial Proofs for Made of Earth, We Are

Sometimes the colour trial proofing has resulted in more questions than answers!

CTP Eight to One

Colour trial proofs for Eight to One

Actually, I would have loved to submit all the prints, in one big panel, because this project has recorded what’s on my mind, as well as being a kind of postcard home: I made these to make my dad smile.

Aberystwyth Printmakers

Work displayed in Aberystwyth Printmakers

Sometimes they were a record of the absurdity of swimming pools

Lino Block for She Doesn't Care

Block for She Doesn’t Care

Sometimes I was poking fun at our obsession with phones and selfies, even when in the presence of amazing things, like the terracotta army

Xian_selfie_e

Xian Selfie

However, although I’ve plastered the walls of the care home where is is staying, he doesn’t show me that they interest him in any way at all. They have more effect on my mum, who snorts with laughter whenever she sees the mirror print, and tells me to keep on going…

mirror mirror_cropped_e

Mirror Mirror

The show opens 15 Feb and runs til 15 May in the Bibliotheca Wittockiana– 23 rue de Bemel -B 1150 Brussels http://www.wittockiana.org Apparently this is a museum devoted to book arts and bookbinding. I’m looking forward to going along.

Work laid out for framing at ELP

If you would like to see all the prints in the show, you can visit the online site http://award.renecarcan.be/current_edition where you can also vote for your favourite work…

In June, I was awarded the Atelier Presse Papier Prize at the Biennial Internationale d’Estampe Contemporaine de Trois-Rivières (BIECTR 2017) for my Orchis print series. The prize was a solo show in their gallery, and a residency in the print studio for two weeks, so I packed my bags and flew out to Canada.

IMG_6191

Trois-Rivières is a small town which has been hosting this amazing print biennial for the past 20 years. As the town is so small, the print biennial takes over the museums, library, galleries, old train station and cafés, with a suggested walking tour of the whole show that takes up a good afternoon.

TR18

Catherine Gillet (Honorable Mention), Sabine Delahaut (Grand Prize winner) and yours truly.

There was a grand opening and some satellite events in Montreal and the University of Quebec, so my residency started off very social, with lots of old and new friends in town. These included Annie Bissett, Kikie Crêvecoeur, Heather Huston and many more local artists such as Guy Langevin, Jo-Ann Lanneville, Frédérique Guichard and Valérie Guimond.

TR23

I enjoyed getting to know the other artists better, particularly as one afternoon we went from gallery to gallery talking to each other about our work, both in terms of technique and ideas. Sabine Delahaut was the grand prize winner and I loved her print narrative and approach. Other artists who gave talks included Heather Huston, Valentin Capony, Catherine Gillet and Valerie Geard.

IMG_6385

When putting the works together for the show, I decided to gather them under the broad term Seventh Sense. I was thinking about how we know what it is like to touch and taste, see and hear. But what of the other senses in our repertoire, the ones that speak of how we place our body in space, or ones that determine how we hope, those that convey indescribable emotions? For me, these senses fall into the realm of the seventh sense and beyond.

IMG_6217

Packing a show for a mysterious space is hard, but in the end the work fit the gallery surprisingly well.

TR20

On the two long  walls there were big screenprints made as a triptych and a diptych from the Dance series and Orchis series.

TR19

In the alcove I put two photos about leaning and flight that were taken in China, exploring the boundary of real and unreal. In the window there were three artist books from the Orchis Book series.

TR10

IMG_6276

Finally, I showed my animation Shadow Boy and Shadow Girl, alongside an inkjet print of some of the frames of the animation that were scanned and printed life size.

TR11

The works in the show used different techniques, but explored similar themes of dance, and transformation.

IMG_6198

During the residency, I found myself going for a walk and a swim every day, as Trois-Rivières has a very amazing outdoor unheated pool that dates from the 30s.

TR22

Piscine et pataugeoire du parc de l’Exposition

The sky was continually cloudy, with flashes of sunshine and a lot of rain. I’m planning work for a new book about that experience, now that I am back home.

TR21

I completed some prints from the Diary series which I had started in China, and looked at the clouds every day.

TR8

TR7

The Print studio and gallery, Atelier Presse Papier, are located in an old wooden building that leans like a ship, rolling downhill towards the St Laurent River. It’s run by a cooperative of artist printmakers who are both colleagues and friends. On one of the last days of my residency they held a lunch for me, complete with home-cooked Quebecois beans with maple syrup and some nice red wine.

TR3

Seventh Sense is on until 30 July 2017 at Atelier Presse Papier, 73, rue Saint-Antoine, Trois-Rivières, QC, G9A 2J2. Tel 819-373-1980. Email presse.papier.atelier@cgocable.ca

https://www.pressepapier.net/expo-wuongean-ho

TR6

My work for BIECTR is in Musee Pierre Boucher in Trois-Rivières until 10 September

IMG_6399Also, one print is showing at Atelier-Galerie A. Piroir in Montreal until 5th August.

BIECTR runs until 10 September 2017. It’s full of amazing work. For more information, or to buy the catalogue, please see http://www.biectr.ca/ or contact info@biectr.ca

 

 

 

Finally finished my animation Shadow Boy and Shadow Girl

You can click on the link to view it here :  https://vimeo.com/208883758

This work has taken me a while to complete, as I started this series of prints two summers ago when visiting Crow’s Shadow Press in the USA.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 12.54.44

Crows’s Shadow Press is located on a Native American reservation in the eastern high desert of Oregon. This print studio is surrounded by rolling grassland and huge clouds. Distant views of the mountains are filtered a luminous blue with the atmosphere.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 12.51.48

The area feels ancient. In front of the studio there is a small graveyard: a scattering of graves on a grassy plot, complete with plastic flowers, windmills, flags and clothing, all in homage and reverence.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 12.52.06

If you were to sit there for a while, you would only hear the fluttering of flags, the crisp rustle of insects in the dry grass, and perhaps the gentle creak of your own muscles and breath.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 12.52.32

I started to imagine what it would be like to become and then not become again in this place. I started to make a series of prints of a boy and a girl, dressed in clothing from the 1850s, during the time when formal traditional clothing was being abandoned for western styles.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 12.52.55

In the animation, the boy and girl emerge from the darkness, defined and described by a sequence of white lines. Gradually they change shape and expression, they appear to get older, more serious, lighter and brighter, until eventually they are carved away completely.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 12.53.09

The images are from two reduction linocuts which I carved and printed in sequence, using only one type of mark: a carved horizontal line. I made 14 prints of each image, one set of prints for the boy and one for the girl. Then I created thousands of in-between frames in photoshop by deleting the frame in front to reveal the frame behind and saving it as a new image.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 12.53.36

It was difficult to continue to carve away at the figures until almost nothing was left, as it felt like destroying the individuals themselves. I learnt a lot with how much can be said with very minimal lines.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 12.53.55

In some respects, the progressive carving and whitening of the block could be read as a loose metaphor for the whitening of indigenous populations, as well as a reflection on blurring of the past…

Here it is again https://vimeo.com/208883758

I’m happy to say that the work will be displayed in China next week.

I have taken a selection of 160 frames at life size (each frame is 15 x 20 cm, and there are 80 frames from each sequence) and placed them side by side to show the working process. The inkjet prints of these frames are a rich and velvety black. As the prints do not exist any longer, because the blocks were entirely carved away, it is nice to bring the prints back to life again. The animation and the inkjet prints will be displayed alongside each other in Changsha Normal University in Hunan province, China, during April 2017.

crow girl poster for changsha sheet 01_eecrow girl poster for changsha sheet 02_ee

crow boy poster for changsha 02_rejigged_eecrow boy poster for changsha 03 rejigged_ee

Pictures of the installation to follow!

I’ve finally got round to photographing the Orchis prints (which make up the images in the Orchis books) on their own. Each print is 20 cm high and 91 cm long; on a webpage they tend to look like a smallish black squiggle. So I’ve added in close-ups in a section below each main image, which allows you to see more of the detailed carving and printing.

Orchis One

orchis-one-1000-pixel-squre_e

 

Orchis Two

orchis-two-1000-pixel-square_e

 

Orchis Three

orchis-three-1000-pixel-square_e

 

Orchis Four

orchis-four-v2-1000-pixel-square_e

 

Orchis Five

orchis-five-1000-pixel-squre_e

 

Orchis Six

orchis-six-1000-pixel-square_e

 

Orchis Seven

orchis-seven-1000-pixel-square_e

 

Orchis Eight

orchis-eight-1000-pixel-square_e

 

Orchis Nine

orchis-nine-1000-pixel-square_e

The prints are linocuts carved on three panels of Japanese vinyl, printed with black sakura ink on lambeth cartridge paper with a French American tool press, which has exerted enough pressure to stretch the print by 1-2 cm longer than the original blocks. Some prints (Orchis 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9) have been wiped and re-inked to achieve the different depth of greys. Some prints (not photographed here) have had a small bit of red colour pencil drawn on top to add highlights.

Orchis Four as a flat print has been accepted to the Society of Wood Engravers’ annual touring show, and will start off by being displayed in Bath.

79th Annual Exhibition of the Society of Wood Engravers, 44AD Art Gallery, 4 Abbey St, Bath BA1 1NN  44AD Gallery 11 Oct – 5 Nov. Private View: Saturday 15 October 2016, 2.30 – 5.30pm.  http://www.woodengravers.co.uk/79th-at-44ad-gallery-bath/

When the prints are folded into a book format they become a very different object: the long panorama is collapsed into a set of shapes that bring separate parts of the image close to each other. For me, books are portable, secretive and tactile. The images are read individually, rather than remaining in constant comparison.

A complete set of Orchis books will be displayed in the University of the West of England in Bristol in February 2017.

A complete set of Orchis books has also entered the collection of the British Museum (Nov 2016)

The Orchis prints were awarded the Atelier Presse Papier Prize, Trois Rivières, Canada in June 2017.

 

dance_couple1_red_grey_img_1350_e

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

dance_double_green_img_1363_e

dancing

dance_two_pink_indigo_img_1379_e

intertwined

dance_purple_lovers_img_1343_e

tumbling, blurring, merging

img_0778_orchisfive_7a_e

colliding

img_0777_orchisfive_7b_e

diagonal lines signifying cuts in time

img_0776_orchisfive_7c_e

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!!!

 

There is a beautiful English Garden in Battersea Park.

ENGLISH GARDEN009_e

It’s just the right mix of wild and tamed plants, with a messy fountain and a pergola draped in wisteria.

ENGLISH GARDEN007_BW_e

When you step through the gated wall, you can see tangled spearmint and trimmed box hedges which hide discrete benches for catching the sun.

ENGLISH GARDEN001_BW_E

I wanted to make a print of this garden that would recreate this space.

ENGLISH GARDEN003_BW_e

It’s a bit fictional as I had to draw it the right way round and join previously unconnected areas together in my linocut (which of course reverses everything).

ENGLISH GARDEN004_BW_e

So you can see the fountain twice, once from close up and once from further away.

ENGLISH GARDEN005_BW_e

Anyway it’s almost 4 metres long, and made of nine linocuts each 30 x 40 cm.

ENGLISH GARDEN002_BW_e

I’d love to make this into an installation: like a space into which you could enter and listen to the bird song…

ENGLISH GARDEN006_BW_e

The only problem is that the sky is missing, and the breeze…

ENGLISH GARDEN_all_e

(Print number nine should be between the top row and bottom row of prints)