This new collection is a work in progress, which expands upon the Zodiac Collection.
Hong Kong People explores the idea that the city ‘clothes’ us, that some part of our identity is derived from the place in which we live.
The collages in this collection depict the silhouettes of common, yet often unseen, characters from the everyday (rubbish collectors, street sweepers etc). By crowding these easily identifiable characters with anonymous tramways, fast food kiosks, taxis and aircon units, the image echoes the bustle of street life. Jagged and sharp lines recreate the tension between the organic and artificial that is ever present in the metropolis.
Photomontage - Island Weave
Island Weave forms a composite image using two photographs, one in focus, and one out of focus. The resulting weave makes the eye restless as it searches to connect the interspersed squares of clarity and blur. The effect destabilises the signs and symbols of the urban landscape so that a taxi’s bold red blends with a tenement’s pocked yellow, or the dark grey of the asphalt melds with the forest green of a tram.
An inverse synesthesia takes places as the word objects in the world are reduced to smears and smudges of colour. The inflexible realism of the photograph reduced to impressionism and abstraction.
Each handwoven image is part of a limited edition collection of 10.
Collage - The Zodiac Collection
In China, the units of time were once named after animals. This convention is still used informally, and the Chinese zodiac is a well known folk tale to this day. The collection depicts the twelve animals that represent each year of a 12 year cycle. Photographs of transport, accommodation and commerce are ripped, torn, then spliced together, eliciting the ever-changing face of Hong Kong: the cycles of time overlapping like the pictures in the collage.
The black and white images could easily be vintage captures, giving these pieces an ageless quality. This is enhanced by the recurring slivers of one of Hong Kong’s iconic modernist skyscrapers, Jardine House – a building considered old despite its construction in 1972. The juxtaposition of an ancient form of measuring time, and the trend in Hong Kong to constantly rebuild and replace, lends an interesting tension to these otherwise fun and whimsical forms.
These images are limited edition archival pigment prints. 100 of each animal only, so snap them up before they all go!
Prints are available on a white or coloured background. Please go to elmccoll.com to buy online.
Painting - Hong Kong Vignettes
A postbox from which letters jut precariously; an empty rattan chair in the shade; washing freshly hung to dry; a ladder leant against an alley wall; subjects that explore presence and absence in the midst of one of the most densely populated cities in the world. The figure of each picture strangely absent, as if just left for some other purpose. The residue of man’s passage.
On closer inspection, the decayed mortar, rusted pipes, peeling paint and weather stains depict a much longer time, the character of a city aging and becoming less distinct. The paintings exhibit blur and sharpness to contrast the city’s constant flux with the forgotten details that seem to waste away before our eyes.
These paintings use a Renaissance oil technique: starting with a ground and building up multiple glazes. Using transparent glazes creates a deep and rich colour that pops off the page, as if infusing them with taste and scent. The process can take a few months to complete as each layer is added.
Oil on canvas. 12 x 16". Sold
Oil on Canvas. 24 x 30". Sold
Oil on canvas. 20 x 24". Sold
Oil on canvas. 22 x 40" Available
Oil on canvas. 16 x 20". Sold
Oil on canvas. 20 x 16". Available
Oil on canvas. 40 x 30". Sold
Oil on Canvas. 12 x 14". Sold
Oil on Canvas. 12 x 15". Available
Out To Dry
Oil on canvas. 30 x 40". Sold
This series of photomontage uses a similar device to Island Weave. Instead of blurred and focused images interwoven, a ‘porthole lens’ is superimposed upon typical Hong Kong street scenes. These pools of focus, or ‘ripples’ give a rare insight into the landscape, drawing the eye away from classic composition, to pockets of activity and detail that we might so easily gloss over. The details that make up the whole that are so easily overlooked.The photomontage is redolent of old pavement art under rain, yet this rain clarifies and defines, rather than blurs and distorts. Hence, an open window, a clockface, the hem of a skirt all come to occupy their own worlds within the greater composition: the seemingly insignificant gaining importance.
Each image is one of a Limited Edition of 10.
White Tram 154
Handcut Photomontage. 12x30".
Handcut Photomontage. 30x12".
Red Tram 109
Handcut Photomontage. 10x30".
Handcut Photomontage. 12x30".
Photomontage - Jardine Skies
In stark contrast to the brutalist architecture that appears elsewhere in these collections, this photomontage explores the morphology of Jardine House. As one of Hong Kong’s iconic modernist buildings, it has survived where many others of its time period have already been replaced. Given its prominent position on the Hong Kong harbour front, and unimpeded view of the New Territories, Jardine House can be viewed from many vantage points. As the camera’s lens finds new perspectives, so the vertical thrust of the building takes on different shapes. A stunning building, and unique in Hong Kong as an example of architecture that commands not just an imposing figure but also, against the busied skyline, a dramatic negative space.
Photomontage adds an additional layer to the composition, imitating the porthole design, accentuating how perspective bends and warps the regular circles into ellipses that seem to peer out like hooded eyes. Frosting in the layers disturbs the strict geometry of the shape, further disrupting the classic lines of the architecture.
Finally, flashes of bold colour illuminate the sky and are reflected in crescents, shards and streaks along the building’s façade. This dramatic splash of colour lends a pop energy to the otherwise retro sci-fi, vertiginous shapes.
There is only one original photomontage and 10 limited edition archival prints.
Collage - Nudes
This collection is a work in progress. It represents the most complex expression of the zodiac and Hong Kong People series.
The nude is a central figure to traditional fine art, imitating human energy and life, and capable of depicting profound emotion. In this series, the unclothed state of the figure in a nude heightens the contrast between the pictures that give the body ‘dimension’ and the sheer unmistakable line of the human pose. The ‘city’ may clothe us, but in these images, it is the outline of the body that envelops the image within.
In these works, the ripped and torn edges of photographs overlap haphazardly, evoking the way images may be recalled to the consciousness or brought forth from memory: never perfect, never succinct, and always quick to be replaced with the next idea or thought. Identity is found in memory, but never quite as we expect.The textured and rough finish to the picture adds to the otherwise two dimensional plane of a photograph, eliciting the sense of a layered consciousness, memory and self-hood. The collage builds up the idea of the city within, the landscape of our bodies no longer identifiable as human, but altogether urban, frenetic and ever-restless.
Painting - Urban Decay
This collection continues the themes of identity, globalisation and the passage of time within the urban sprawl. As Hong Kong expands and grows ever upward and outward, replacing and reclaiming, so the character of its early self is slowly consigned to the past. In an often strange tug of war, the new glimmer of the future must give ground to the old alley ways, cracked tiled shops, and temple haunts that once defined Hong Kong. As the city becomes more a financial hub, and its roots in toy manufacture, textiles and artificial flowers are slowly withered, so we find pockets of this urban decay clamouring to tell the tale of hard work done by tireless immigrants, expatriates and political asylum seekers.
In the frantic blur of the city, these paintings present a slower time. A time to consider what has passed and what replaces it. Gently applying the brakes, and checking our impatience for progress.