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Thursday, 28 January 2010


Met up with this awesome HK artist last night. His name is Prodip and he is part of a hip hop crew here called LMF, LazyMuthafuckas. He's also ab extremely talented graphic designer/artist.
He's agreed to join our motley crew and will be doing paintings of the freakshow chracters.
Very excited to see his results. It's funny, we vaguely knew each other back in the day when i was running rave parties and DJing so he always calls me DJ Blackjack. Ah, the good old days.....


So we got a call from the government today. The head of the fund called and was very enthusiastic about the project. He said they were seriously considering giving us the money but that they needed more information about the content of the artworks, the audience figures and the concepts behind the show. I think they wanna make sure there's nothing offensive in there and that they don't give us cash for a project and then have only 20 people show up to it.
They also asked if we'd take less money than the total necessary, to which we of course said we'd take whatever they'd give!
It's a huge deal!! I cannot tell you how much, for the government in HK to actually even be considering sponsoring a contemporary art installation like this. It would be big news here. Our government tends to be extremely conservative with these kind of things. They give a little cash to the ballet and the orchestra but to a fucking huge conceptual circus built by a bunch of freaks? Wow.
It would be a big deal for sure and will hopefully encourage other artists to follow with equally ambitious works.
We shall see......


One of our main films is being edited right now but here's a couple of shots from the location. we had 2 professional trapeze artists fly around all day. We shot in a blackened out old church using the Red camera. My aunt, Louise, managed the whole thing really well. This was in Bristol in UK. Could only afford to shoot for one day but we got some good shots I think.
UNKLE are doing the soundtrack for this too. By the end of the day these guys were so beat, hands bleeding from doing so many flips.


These are a couple of previews from some of the prototypes for the freakshow part of the exhibition, a number of people standing around in bizarre get up. If we have budget we'll have real people for the duration of the exhibition but more likely they'll be mannequins.
these were originally conceived by an amazing designer called Lucy McRae but because we don't have enough budget we could no longer afford her bill. Luckily she was happy to sell her work, and the rights to it, on to us and we'll finish it with our own twist.
If I manage to get some funding I'll drag her over here to finish the job herself though, a rare talent. I came across her work on Spike Jonze blog and emailed her blindly and she responded and the next thing you know we're making art. She lives in Amsterdam, Holland, I went out to see her a couple of months back. We had fun hanging out and riding bikes through the city too.

getting it done

A lot of the drawing work for the project is done by KplusK, an architect firm here in HK. Two twins own the joint, Paul and Johnny Kember. I work with Paul mostly. I've known these guys for a while and fortunately they like my work and have been able to barter with them. I give them paintings of mine and they do the technical drawings at no cost.
They're super nice guys and super talented architects. Every time we meet we have fun and they always pop a bottle at the meeting so i usually stagger out crunk as hell.
We pretty much finished the drawigns last week and they went off to the production crew who will physically start nailing shit together. All the big production is done in a factory in china and is turned around in just a matter of weeks, amazingly fast.
Above are some of the drawings, of the main sculpture that runs through the space, 40m long x4m tall. Also the 2 main cinema spaces, these are around 10mx10m.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

and on and on....

So, yesterday was our big government meeting.
Some months ago I put in an application to the government here in Hong Kong for funding for the Hope and Glory project. I'm asking them for 3.4million HK$, around US$350k.
The fund, called the 'Mega Events fund', is organised by the Tourism Commission.
The application is a very dense and thorough document and is difficult to navigate. The fund is primarily for events that will bring tourism, economic benefit and have a positive impact on HK's image.
Our event falls into this category as a non-commercial exhibition though normally the money goes to tennis tournaments, government trade fairs, and more traditional arts events like the recent Hong Kong Philharmonic performance outside at Happy Valley.
All these events are short, lasting a few days and have an audience of between 30-60,ooo people. The fund has so far given as little as $6million and as much as double that.
Our event is a little different as it runs for 2 months and our audince could be well over 100,000 people but we are only asking 3.4million. So it looks good on paper.
We, myself, Valerie Doran, and Dr Kacey Wong, went to the governments rather dull, grey offices to present or case. We had 7 minutes to talk, then a 15 minute Q&A.
There were 8 or 9 people there to listen, all high ranking government sorts. They were all very friendly and we were wamly welcomed. A stark contrast to meeting the Arts Development Council a couple of years back, awful, stone faced reception at that one.
I raced through a slide show and talked about the main points:

No contemporary art relative to other major cities around the globe.
International cultural tourism and commerce and benefits.
Our competency at building such a large installation.
The show itself, content and logistics.
Support from brands, the community, education and creative industry.
The PR plans.
The educational components.
The benefits: cultural audience development, software development, the impact on HK image and on the local community, etc.
The inspiration factor.
The opportunity to collect information.

Anyway, I crushed all this stuff into 7 minutes and then we had an engaging and animated discussion with those around the table. I think that was a very good sign, they seemed genuinely interested and asked a lot of questions.
They seemed to be very interested in the potential for commercial gain. They didn't seem to understand why we weren't trying to milk the show for income, that is a relatively altueristic endeavor but maybe they were just trying to test our sincerity.
I've done so many projects here over the years that have reaped no financial gain but plenty of fun and spiritual gain but i guess a lot of HK people are always looking for a more direct reward.

In the meantime I'm artist in residence at a school here called Chinese International School. It's a seriously wealthy school, amazing facilities. They gave me a nice big space and I'm just painting away. Kids come by and say hi and ask about life as an artist, it's kinda fun. Some little kids came by this morning and i let them make a mess all over one of my paintings, it was fun.

OK, back to work...


Sunday, 24 January 2010

The A Factor

A Factor production crew, Vince, Derek, Simon , Vanessa and Alan.

Our Judges, Lisa, me, host Terrence and Tony.




















We shot a short film today which is in part of the Hope and Glory installation. It's a piss take of American Idol/X Factor. We call it the A Factor and instead of judging singers, we judge famous artists. A bunch of friends piled in to contribute, acting the part of the famous contemporary artists (Murakami, Hirst, Beuys, etc).
Simon, Derek and Vince from CB Fresh ran the whole show with help from Alan and Vanessa. Everyone involved contributed their time for free for which I'm extremely grateful.
It was a lot of fun with some really funny performances. I took head shots of everyone involved which will end up in a book when the show is up and running.
A long shoot but really successful. We were laughing all day and the crew did an excellent job. I think once it's edited it's going to be just awesome.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


It's all happening right now for the Hope and Glory project.

This last week:

Paul Kember,, finalised the technical drawings for the large sculptural works. These were handed off to Clive from and Alex,
These guys will be doing the main physical build.

In the meantime both Laura,, and Henry,, are organising the last couple of major location shoots. One is a 3D film of a horse, the other is of a woman falling down the side of a 40 storey building (very complicated, stunt girl, green screen, high speed camera, etc).

Stanley Wong,, is working on graphic design as are Diesel, (

I'm bouncing between meetings. Still trying to convince the wealthy of Hong Kong to put some cash into the project but not much luck so far. Getting ready to meet the government, Tourism Commission, to try to get money from the Mega Fund,

I've been making my own lo-fi films these last weeks too. A fake documentary interviewing friends about the loss of a close friend, a film using Xbox Halo 3 and another couple that use clips from popular movies re-ordered into a new narrative.

This weekend we film an American Idol style film where we will replace singers with 'famous' artists. These great guys, Simon, Derek and Vince are managing the whole thing for love,

I'm also in the studio most days getting commissioned paintings done as this income is what is currently funding the whole project.

Also in the studio is Gary and Mimi who are helping to build a large installation that is made from thousands of tiny spaceships. It's a total mess as we are experimenting with silicone, cement, plaster, trying to find a solution to home make this thing which has to fill a 2000sqft space.

Curator Valerie is looking over my shoulder making sure I don't stray too far conceptually. It's difficult to reign in my energy and I keep wanting to add more stuff into the show. She's got a huge task in front of her to formalise all this activity into a piece of writing that will become the book of the show.

We're working with friends at Hong Kong University to design an educational component. lectures or symposium that include the students from that institution.

Louis Vuitton have offered to manage and sponsor that component,

Shanghai Tang,, just threw in some cash but in return I have to do their window displays for March so I'[ve only got a week or so to come up with something clever.

I also took a commission from a big hotel in Shanghai, It's not built yet but when it is I've been asked to produce paintings for the lobby, a video installation, and sculpture all for the lobby area. That income is a big chunk of the Hope and Glory budget so couldn't say no. The interiors are designed by KplusK too.

James Lavelle offered to produce the soundtrack to the films so I'm desperately trying to get all done to give him plenty of time, Also Gary Gunn,, a great producer from NYC i met randomly in Miami is going to do a few soundtrack elements too.

Lucy McRae was an early collaborator on the show,, but she's now got other things going on so we're adapting her initial work and developing it further with local costume designer Alvina Lee.

Not enough hours in the day for all this but a lot of fun nonetheless.


Last year I made a film of a tiger, it was an installation that showed at Hong Kong's Museum of Art. The museum had no budget but a friend, Jimmy Wong, just so happened to really want a painting of a tiger. So, he threw in a decent amount of money to the film budget and I painted him a nice big tiger. I love a good barter deal.
Recently our mutual friend Tony Magnetic (he runs a denim brand called 'The Year Of...') decided to get into the sake business and asked us if he could use the painting as artwork for the 'Year of the Tiger' special edition....

Friday, 15 January 2010

References images.

These above 2 images are computer renderings of the Hope and Glory layout. You can see the large central 'las vegas' style sculpture, measures about 20m x 4 tall.
The big star is a 4mx4m light scuplture. The red/black and yellow/blue boxes are cinema spaces that have films playing on 4 screens.
The little people are human sculptures, metaphorical heroes and villains. The white blons represent other large sculptures.

These are a couple of early installations of mine from 2006.

This is me! In my studio, early 2009.

An installation at Louis Vuitton. I've been working with them since 2007. I'm not like Murakami or Richard Prince doing handbags or anything like that I just get on real well with the people at the HK office so we've done a couple of projects together locally. Super nice people. I'm not really tied into LV the brand international in any way, it's really more of a personal relationship thing with the staff here.

These 2 above are an installation/performance from 2008 in Hong Kong. 'This Brutal house'. It was produced when i was very ill and after opening the show I pretty much disappeared for a year while i recovered.

These images are all from the 'Looking for Antonio Mak' show I was involved in at the beginning of 2009. It was at the HK Museum of Art and curated by the wonderful Valerie Doran who I'm lucky enough to have involved in the Hope and Glory project.
This was a pivotal show for me. It was non-commercial and very well attended at really seemed to move people that saw it. Encouraged me to do the same, build a show that would have a real impact on my community, rather than a purely ego driven, self enriching commercial project.

My contribution to that project was a film of a tiger. It was very expensive to rent a tiger and film it but by some bizarre co-incidence a friend wanted a painting of a tiger so I used that income to fund the filming as there was no income from the exhibition.
The film played on 4 screens and was accompanied by a Gorecki soundtrack, very powerfully tragic music.
Originally I wanted to have a real tiger in the space but the museum has so many rules and regulations it just wasn't possible.
I needed $200,000 to cover the costs but there was no budget from museum or government for the show. Valerie rustled up $30,000 towards my cost from the tiny amount of funding they had given her. I was so disappointed that our government came up with so little money for such an important show , I took the whole amount out in cash, folded each $100 note into little origami tigers and gave the whole lot away to people at the opening.