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The Magic and Majesty of Michelle Fung and the HK Arts Collective



The Year of the Dragon has burst onto Gloucester Road with an explosion of color and joy as well as scholarly research and thought in the form of the “100 Woodblocks Later” exhibition. 


The exhibition features woodblock carvings and prints by interdisciplinary award-winning artist Michelle Kuen Suet Fung. While working on her multiyear project The World of 2084, Michelle determined that woodblock would be the best medium for a specific part of the project and taught herself how to carve. In 2023, she had an artist residency at the acclaimed Guanlan Original Printmaking Base in Shenzhen.


Often in exhibitions it is only the print from the woodblock that is featured. In this exhibition, the woodblocks, which combine elements of carving and drawing, are not just a means to an end, they are stars in themselves. They include an homage to Hong Kong--the Nine Dragons (plus one). Kowloon is known as the nine dragons—the eight hills plus the Emperor Bing of the Song dynasty, who was himself a dragon. These luminescent creatures are a visual delight and understanding Michelle’s creative process only enhances their beauty. Michelle has integrated color theory – each dragon wood carving features two complimentary colors -- with her research on dragons. As her work on the Nine Dragons project progressed, she began to visualize dragons in her own mind and thus some of the later works have a less traditional character. The tenth dragon, a robot dragon, came to her mind after a Valentine’s Day dinner with her husband at a robot-themed restaurant. Its scales embody a metallic mosaic quality. Each of the 10 framed dragons on its own would be enchanting, but seeing them all together, alternating side and front-facing as Michelle envisioned, makes for a stunning experience. The framing she chose magnifies the impact. 


Some of the block prints on display are part of her work for Northlandia, one of the five countries in her 2084 project. These prints also are the product of extensive scholarly research, including in 2022, a month in the Artic and a residency with Artic Circle (in Svalbard, Norway), a program for international artists, musicians, and film makers. Michelle also had prior residencies in Alaska and Iceland. Her prints, Artic Fox and Artic Hares and Seal Seal Seal! are enchanting.


So striking and shimmering is her woodblock carving Polar Bear The Ice Queen [of Northlandia], that it almost seems to be created on a sheet of ice itself.  Unlike the Nine Dragons, the background of this carving is full of color. It evokes Michelle’s extensive experience in Chinese ink and brush painting.  


In addition to the beautiful works, the exhibit offers visitors a window into the woodblock carving and printing processes. Michelle’s tools and earliest carving are displayed and there is a video. If you can, visit when Michelle will be there. Listening to her discuss her research and creative process is energizing and her enthusiasm is contagious. March 10 and 30 she will create a piece live in the gallery. For details visit https://www.hongkongartscollective.com/event-details/100-woodblocks-later-michelle-fung-artist-demonstration


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'Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences.' – Sylvia Plath

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