Malou Hung’s Bookplates
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
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.
Ritual and Daily Life
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.
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.