J. Yuen Ling Chiu (or, Ling)
Ling is a London-based printmaker and artist educator, from Toronto, Canada. She specialises in printmaking in education, and has extensive experience delivering curriculum aligned teaching, and short courses. Trained in lithography, relief printing, screenprinting, intaglio and digital media, Ling is currently undertaking a two-year residency at Thames-Side Print Studio.
Her work explores the architecture and pattern of memory, with especial attention to relationships between urban landscapes, migration, and empire. Her studio practice often shifts between themes, underpinned by a formal exploration of the medium of printmaking. Current areas of focus are:
Pigeons. Pigeons are wherever people are. I think we see something of ourselves in them, but the reflection and relationship can sometimes be ugly and discomfiting. They, like so many of us, are migrants. They occupy what space they can find. They live, mate, eat and shit, like any other animal. They are defined by their birth situation and geography, the only real difference between a rock dove and a feral pigeon, immigrant, refugee, or expat. Our attitudes and biases differ whether it is a single bird, or a mass population. My studio is situated near an abandoned ferry, the Royal Iris, now home to a colony of such interlopers. I watch them, they watch me. Through whatever print medium I can, I think about the individual versus the collective, and consider what informs our perception of beauty.
Hong Kong. I have a long-standing, and somewhat rose-coloured view of a timeless Hong Kong, a view that I know to be untrue and naive, as a long-time visitor, but never a resident. I associate it with my father, grandparents, and extended family, the densely packed towers, constant humidity, the air conditioners whirring in the sky above, the smell of food from hawker stalls mixing with incense. I was 15 when the handover occurred, the passing back of this hybrid place from the British to the CCCP. I have returned to it time and time again, to find it the same but different.
It is the only place in the world about which I am timelessly romantic, and therefore, deeply troubled. This relationship is unpicked through slowly carved relief prints, capturing textural details of mundane cityscapes, and photopolymer gravure etchings, where the flash of the camera is countered by the slow, deliberate removal of words, signage, and branding, left empty of both empires, but doubtless of its “Hong Kong-ness”.
Colours, compositions, surfaces. This newest area of practical research explores the formal surface qualities available to the artist in print. Formed of small libraries of reusable or recyclable plates, made with lower-toxicity and more sustainable processes, these sketches, compositions, and studies mark a shift in my practice, to reflect on the environmental impact of printmaking as a practice, and in education.
Ling’s academic research examines inclusive pedagogy as it is applied to technical spaces in higher education, with a particular attention to printmaking spaces. Acknowledging the barriers and biases inherent in making practices, and engaging in conversations and actions that seek to remove barriers, makes good making. This runs parallel to personal practice research on the sustainable future of printmaking:
“There is a place for printmaking 10, 50, 100 years from now, but it is incumbent upon us to be responsible makers; to not live in a bubble. We must use what can be grown when we can, and be precious with anything mined, distilled or shipped. We need to include more people, which means acknowledging where there are barriers: these lovely presses and processes were not designed for my body, my person, my ability, and they may not be designed for yours either… but I am going to do it anyway, and help you do it, too. This is how printmaking not only survives, but thrives.”