Tell me more Polluta woodcut stories please!

I have recently finished Phase 1 (42 images) of Polluta Propaganda Woodcuts (99 images in total.) In 2015-2019, I conducted many school and community workshops and invited children to design this world of Polluta. Based on their drawings, I design the body of Polluta Propaganda paintings and woodcuts.




寶綠達九十九景之三十三:團花錦簇

Thirty-third of Ninety-Nine Views of Polluta: A Symphony of Flowers Woodcut (Oil-based ink on Cloud-dragon handmade rice paper) image size: 18 x 23.5 inches / 45x60cm paper size: 27.5 x 38 inches / 70x95cm

Edition of 9 + 1AP + 1PP 2021



寶綠達九十九景之三十四:世外桃源

Thirty-fourth of Ninety-Nine Views of Polluta: La La Land Woodcut (Oil-based ink on Cloud-dragon handmade rice paper) image size: 18 x 23.5 inches / 45x60cm paper size: 27.5 x 38 inches / 70x95cm

Edition of 9 + 1AP + 1PP 2021




寶綠達九十九景之三十五:龍飛鳳舞 Thirty-fifth of Ninety-Nine Views of Polluta: The Dragon Waltz Woodcut (Oil-based ink on Cloud-dragon handmade rice paper) image size: 18 x 23.5 inches / 45x60cm paper size: 27.5 x 38 inches / 70x95cm

Edition of 9 + 1AP + 1PP 2021





When a kidult drew a family crest during a Polluta workshop at the Kowloon City Art Festival, West Kowloon Art Park, Hong Kong in 2019, my pupils dilated. I have always found heraldry incredibly beautiful, but have yet to make use of this beautiful aesthetics.



kidult drawing

In 2019, I made my first three woodcut prints in the theme of heraldry and Chinese auspiciousness, featuring Polluta’s resident pigs, flying elephants and fire-breathing dragons. It was my second year in my self-taught woodcut journey, and I had a lot of trouble with this set of triptych.


If I were re-doing them, I would have used darker ink so that the details show up more, and I would definitely have upped the design complexity and not leave so much bloody negative space around the subject. The negative space was a nightmare for myself and the amazing printers at Marble Print & Clay!



寶綠達九十九景之十八:亢龍無悔

Eighteenth of Ninety-Nine Views of Polluta:Dragon Never Regrets

Woodcut (Oil-based ink on Cloud-dragon handmade rice paper) image size: 18 x 23.5 inches / 45x60cm paper size: 27.5 x 38 inches / 70x95cm

Edition of 9 + 1AP + 1PP 2019

寶綠達九十九景之十九:太平有象一片綠

Nineteenth of Ninety-Nine Views of Polluta: Green, Peace, Elephant

Woodcut (Oil-based ink on Cloud-dragon handmade rice paper) image size: 18 x 23.5 inches / 45x60cm paper size: 27.5 x 38 inches / 70x95cm

Edition of 9 + 1AP + 1PP 2019


寶綠達九十九景之二十:豬籠入水

Twentieth of Ninety-Nine Views of Polluta: A Purse Full of Coins

Woodcut (Oil-based ink on Cloud-dragon handmade rice paper) image size: 18 x 23.5 inches / 45x60cm paper size: 27.5 x 38 inches / 70x95cm

Edition of 9 + 1AP + 1PP 2019



Two years later and forty woodcut books later, I did redo them!


Besides reading all the books on woodcuts in Hong Kong’s entire university library system from front to back (it took me about six months), I also borrowed all the books on heraldry! Maybe 20 of them?




I learnt that Europe and Japan are the only two cultures that are big on family crests. As much as I was fascinated with European heraldry, I couldn’t help but be distracted by Japanese heraldry. “An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Japanese Family Crest” was my favourite. It’s one of those books you’ve borrowed from the library but will buy a copy for yourself.


Japanese heraldry is very much still a living culture today. They call it kamon (family pattern.) Having a symbol to represent your family is not limited to the privileged (they have an imperial chrysanthemum kamon for the emperor), but it’s common among the commoners. Today you can still see kamon designs on menus, wrapping paper and storefront.


sketches to work out the design and composition


I did a 2.0 version of my first triptych, with a much more thoughtful and meticulous attitude. I translated the same three animal features at Polluta into Japanese kamon design. Visually the round kamon take centre stage. The background features some of my favourite motifs such as waves, clouds and lotus flowers. The repetitive organic almost decorative motifs are an important tool for me to create visual richness, and also provide me with the most contemplative and enjoyable carving experience.



寶綠達九十九景之十五:正大光明

Fifteenth of Ninety-Nine Views of Polluta: Chasing after Light

Woodcut (Oil-based ink on Cloud-dragon handmade rice paper) image size: 18 x 23.5 inches / 45x60cm paper size: 27.5 x 38 inches / 70x95cm

Edition of 9 + 1AP + 1PP 2021


The first time I carved clouds was for “Fifteenth of Ninety-Nine Views of Polluta: Chasing after Light” in 2019, it was the most labour-intensive block to carve to date. I spent a week solid carving it. Now I spend much more time carving one block. I also decided on a dark, simple and consistent colour between the three to highlight all the intricate details. a visual trick I wish I had known before!




寶綠達九十九景之三十六:天地人

Thirty-sixth of Ninety-Nine Views of Polluta: Heaven and Earth

Woodcut (Oil-based ink on Cloud-dragon handmade rice paper) image size: 18 x 23.5 inches / 45x60cm paper size: 27.5 x 38 inches / 70x95cm

Edition of 9 + 1AP + 1PP 2021


Another Polluta Propaganda Woodcut print that also features Japanese kamon design. I think this one is a blend between Japanese kamon design and medieval illuminated manuscript design. Medieval illuminated manuscripts are one of my biggest loves ever. I also plan to use this visual language for the Aristocratic Union, again maybe in 20 years…




Fun fact: I was so excited about Japanese kamon at that time that I assigned a Japanese kamon art project with my private students. They were forced to draw a lot of them lol and designed their own family crest!


I feel like one day, I will return to a bigger project using the heraldry aesthetics. Maybe for the Aristocratic Union. That may be in 20 years…




寶綠達九十九景之四十二:寶綠達藍圖 Forty-second of Ninety-Nine Views of Polluta: Polluta Blueprint image size: 18 x 23.5 inches / 45x60cm paper size: 27.5 x 38 inches / 70x95cm Editions of 9 + 1AP + 1PP 2022

When a 12-year-old child came up with an engineering plan for Polluta during my residency at Art Omi, NY, USA (one of the most heavenly experiences an artist can only dream of) in 2016, I already knew I wanted to use this drawing. It took me six years to digest it and ultimately solicited help from my father to understand it!

The blue print aesthetics lends itself for this woodcut print, because the original child’s drawing is so full of technical and scientific details and instructions. With a natural aversion to anything with too many straight edges, I softened the design further into a large organic floating ship powered by (of course) the flying elephant’s dung. The sails are replaced by koinobori, Japanese carp kites. At 13, I did a koinobori watercolour painting project with a private teacher. I was so fascinated with the sleek form, intricate scale patterns and the almost cartoonish teacup eyes and mouth that I kept it in my visual bank for years. Never underestimate what seeds you are planting in your students, and the time the seed may take to germinate. That is something I always keep in my mind.

Technically this print was challenging. The text was the most difficult to carve, especially when the block was 80% done, I realised this particular woodblock is softer and more crumbly. There was countless panic rescue with broken wood chips. The grids took my assistant a few tries to figure out the exact tool and pressure.



It is difficult to carve text, especially in reverse. I write it with markers and refer to the reverse side. The text is ALWAYS the most time-consuming part to carve. The text on each of these blocks must have taken me 10 hours each. (I always sketch on recycled paper, so that I can let go of the preciousness of the sketches.)


As part of my image research, I looked through some incredibly blueprint designs online. Here are some of my favourite ones! Enjoy!




Come see some Polluta Propaganda Woodcuts in person at the exhibition opening tomorrow!

Nothin’ Like the Taste of Print" Artist Reception + Live Music Performance 18 June, 2022 (Sat) 3 - 6 pm Hanart TZ Gallery 2/F, Mai On Ind. Bldg., 17-21 Kung Yip Street, Kwai Chung, Hong Kong Exhibition runs till 13 August, 2022 10am-6:30pm (M-F), 10am-6pm (Sa)


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P.S. If you enjoyed this, make sure you sign up for my artistic love notes where I share my personal insider journey of creating the world of 2084.


P.P.S. If you have read this far, maybe you deserve/want/need to know this. I am married to the kidult mentioned in the first paragraph. You are welcome.

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