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5 Creative Questions with… Kean Onn See

Kean Onn See is many things: a wood-carving visual artist, a zombie movie enthusiast. An Archibald finalist, and whimsical enough to wedge a dragon-themed chip box on his head. He and his hero, Cressida Campbell, who also has a wood-carving based art practice, have swapped injury stories (what they do is physically demanding).


I met Kean Onn when we were both National Emerging Art Prize finalists last year. As he has stated in his interview with Sarah Birtles, his new representative, perhaps the real art prize is the friends we make along the way. "There is a kinship among us artists. Often we work in solitude, when we get together under mutual admiration we all inspire one another to take our practice further." He definitely inspires me - often by being the most unassuming person despite his litany of achievements.


Kean Onn See. Photograph: supplied


Kean Onn See is the 34th in my series of creatives to take five questions.


When my creative process is stuck, I reach for...

3. Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli;

4. In the Mood for Love by Wong Kar-wai.


The weirdest thing about being a creative human is... the relentless, often quiet, vibration living inside us waiting to be manifested into the physical form.  



A work in progress and a carving tool. Photograph: supplied


The most unusual object in my house is... my painting Black Hole: Ruthless Preceptor of Space and Time [currently on show as a finalist for the Blake Prize].

Black Hole: Ruthless Preceptor of Space and Time by Kean Onn See. Image: supplied


I celebrate my achievements by... reflecting on my journey quietly and hopefully with a sushi boat.

Kean Onn See and a collection of his small-scale works, demonstrating his love of iconic packaging. Photograph: supplied


Something in the world that already exists that I wish I had created is... the bamboo steamer. Its design remains unchanged for 5000 years. It is sustainable (before there is a word of sustainable), biodegradable (before there is a word of biodegradable) and stackable. It is a triumph of design and engineering that stands the test of time.


Find out more about Kean Onn See on his website Kean Onn See | Archibald Finalist 2024 and follow him on Instagram Kean Onn See (@kean.onn.see) • Instagram photos and videos. The Archibald prize is on at the Art Gallery of NSW from 8 June – 8 September 2024. The Blake Prize continues at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre until 7 July 2024. Kean Onn's work is available through Sarah Birtles and can be viewed at the Affordable Art Fair in Sydney on 13-16 June 2024.



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