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EXTRAORDINARY ENCOUNTERS

Malou Hung’s Bookplates

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This virtual exhibition visualizes Chinese material culture through the bookplates (ex libris) of celebrated Hong Kong artist Malou Hung. A bookplate is  generally a small print placed on the inside front cover or free endpaper of a book to show ownership. In an era in which the popularity of print media continues to decline, the practice of including bookplates is fast becoming a dying art. 

 

The exhibition’s title refers to the surprising ways in which we still encounter bookplates during the act of reading. Alternatively, it stands for the remarkable encounters possible when viewing Hung’s images, which go well beyond the general expectations of standard bookplates. These encounters have the ability to transport audiences across time and space, allowing for the appreciation of ancient artworks and diverse Hong Kong neighbourhoods as viewed from the artist’s extraordinary perspective.

 

Bookplates have been appreciated for centuries as technically refined and beautiful artworks, as well as critical materials for learning about the history of art, printing, books and design. Many of the works on display pay homage to everyday life in Hong Kong’s bygone eras—informed by elements of traditional Chinese culture—which forms an invaluable resource for the study of Chinese art and Hong Kong heritage.

Curated by Sarah Ng and organized by the University Museum and Art Gallery (UMAG) of the University of Hong Kong, this virtual exhibition highlights Chinese history and culture as well as UMAG’s collection. The exhibition’s four sections range from daily life in bygone eras to the material culture and craftsmanship of Imperial China: Rituals and Daily Life, Superfluous Things, Revisiting and Craftsmanship. The bookplates are juxtaposed with items from UMAG’s collection.

Dr Sarah Ng

Curator, UMAG

Artist Biography

 

Malou Oi Yee Hung has been involved in printmaking and the creation of bookplates for more than thirty years. Her works have been shown internationally and collected by numerous museums. She also has received several prestigious awards, including in 2016 for her A Hakka Village, which is now in the permanent collection of Jinling Library, China; in 2014 her Jiufan series won Honorable Mention from the FISEA Congress in Spain, and at the 24th International Biennial of Small Graphic Forms and ex libris in Ostrów Wielkopolski, Poland. Hung also has published the manual Etching Techniques & the Art of Ex Libris (Taiwan, 2008), which has become one of the most influential technical manuals on printmaking.

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Ritual and Daily Life

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This section features Chinese culture, customs and traditions in China, in particular, the ritual and daily life of people from all walks of life in both metropolitan cities and countryside, for example, lion dance during festivals including Chinese New Year; the shops which sell traditional goods like silk and tea; extended family gather in traditional festivals and holidays.

Superfluous Things

This section presents not only bookplates depicting the material culture in imperial China but also historical objects from UMAG’s permanent collection, ranging from portable intimate personal items like snuff bottles to large household furniture. Most Hung’s bookplates are in a unique personal style that blend Chinese art and elements of traditional Chinese culture with Western techniques. 

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Revisiting

This section shows bookplates that pay homage to everyday life in Hong Kong’s bygone eras and Hong Kong heritage, which forms an invaluable resource for the study of Hong Kong history. Her works also reveal.

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Craftsmanship

This section uses bookplates to illustrate the traditional Chinese printing process and also Western copper plate intaglio printmaking process.

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Chinese Movable Type Printing 

2006

20.2 x 14 cm

A bookplate depicts scenes from the traditional process of woodblock printing with reference to the Qing dynasty published or in particular Wu Yingdian Juzhen Edition Book Series, the top-right image shows the sawing of wood into small blocks and engraving with Chinese characters; the top-left image presents the assembly of the woodblocks into a text; the bottom-right image depicts printing with ink and paper; and the bottom-left image shows placing the printed pages into a chest of drawers before binding them to make an album.

Copper Plate Intaglio Process: Etching, Aquatint, Hand-colouring Technique

All bookplates were made by Malou HUNG, unless otherwise noted.
Organized by 
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Acknowledgement

 

Exhibition Curator and Website Content Chief Editor: Dr. Sarah Ng

Digital Curator, Video, Website Design and Illustrations: Rae Hong

Handout and Promotional Material Design: Jasmin Lin

Other Contributors: Kenneth Chan, Elena Cheung, Benjamin Chiesa, Lui Kai Hong, Malou Hung, Wong Hoi Kei, Dr. Florian Knothe, Christopher Mattison, Shuo Hua and Elena Kwok