ALL MONSTERS ARE REAL - 2023
Acrylic paint on an abandoned skateboard
Exhibited at Michael Reid Art Bar, Pyrmont, 1 November - 13 November 2023
I turned a beat-up skateboard scavenged from a council clean-up into an imitation of a silk painting. My work is loosely based on a hanging scroll by Ming Dynasty master Qiu Ying (Fording the Stream, After Liu Songnian).
I wanted to connect with my identity as a Chinese-Australian artist and found Ying’s work in a 1989 magazine, also in a council clean up. The monsters I added refer to the destructive forces around us that are so familiar they are part of the landscape.
To me, a monster is excessive consumerism that thrives on cold indifference to the fact that many of the things we buy are slave-made. The waste generated when these things are discarded - that’s another monster.
Tantalisingly cheap online stores and their next-day deliveries seem like wonderlands, but they are wastelands that create landfill. If we are curious about waste, it will be harder for monsters to hide.
KY TRAN DREAMS OF JOSS PAPER OFFERINGS FROM HER GRIEVING MOTHER TO HER SLAIN BROTHER - 2023
Acrylic paint and wood varnish on plywood box lid
Finalist - Biblio Art Prize 2023
Exhibited at Blarney Books and Art, Port Fairy, 9 December 2023 to end of summer 2024
This piece responds to the Australian novel All That's Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien. Its surrealistic style nods to the nightmare state the heroine Ky Tran finds herself in after her teenage brother, Denny, is shot dead in a Cabramatta restaurant. Ky's mother burns 'hell money' for her son, and also paper 'servants' because Denny died so young that she thinks he won't be able to take care of himself in the afterlife. Two coffin nails pin the hell money into place and the piece is aged because the story is set in 1996. Migrant families are famously frugal so this piece is painted on a salvaged plywood box lid that the artist stained with old, dark Estapol - perhaps the only way a family like the Trans could have the type of rich dark wood that was popular in the '90s.
SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS - 2022
Acrylic paint on wooden board, framed in Tasmanian oak
Finalist - Hornsby Art Prize 2023
Exhibited at Wallarobba Arts and Cultural Centre, Hornsby, 20 October – 5 November 2023
This small-scale work reflects the paradox of how the tiniest objects can have the greatest impact. In this still life, each of the books have enlarged my inner life. The creatures are each souvenirs gathered from Paris, Stockholm and Oslo. These tiny things from big adventures make the world feel smaller. The other things may be humble but have outsized personal significance: the lamp, scavenged from the side of a road, illuminates my nightly drawing practice. The begonia cutting in an empty coffee jar refers to a desperate attempt to reinvigorate a get-well gift. The green paint is the same house paint used to refurbish a dollhouse also rescued from the side of the road.
HAW FLAKES IN MEMORY OF DAD - 2023
Acrylic paint and salvaged wood varnish on wooden board
Finalist - Little Things Art Prize 2023
Exhibited at Saint Cloche, Paddington, 27 September– 8 October 2023
Haw Flakes are an old-fashioned Chinese lolly that remind me of my dad, who I miss terribly. Sometimes love is a little roll of candies.
XIII CHANGE IS COMING - 2023
Acrylic paint on wooden board
Exhibited at the Wet Paint Collective’s August 2023 group show at the Balmain Watch House
My Krasue ghost character surges out of the bounds of a tarot card – XXIII indicating death. Though formidable, my character is a comforting protector who can chase away your other fears. Death is usually depicted in the Rider-Waite Tarot as riding a horse – my ghost wraps around a horse’s skull.
THE LIGHT IN DARK PLACES - 2022
Acrylic paint on scrap leather
This painting, held in a private collection in Vancouver, depicts a death’s-head hawkmoth (Acherontia atropos). It deliberately includes the marks made by the leather’s previous user; they are a feature, not a flaw. The texture of the leather exaggerates the texture of the moth.
FEAR IS PROTECTION - 2021
Acrylic paint on wooden board
Exhibited at the Wet Paint Collective’s March 2023 group show at the Balmain Watch House
What if our biggest fears keep our nightmares away? Krasue, Grumpy Ghosts, Stitch Bear, Anonymous Rabbit, Slender Woman and Bound Mermaid, my original characters, all represent healing and protection despite how strange and frightening the world can be.