St. Giles Cathedral

Ink and Bleach and Byro on Watercolour Paper on Plywood (~700mm X ~400mm)

This goes back to  the Highlands where bagpipes were blown, where haggis is eaten and where real men wear kilts stabbing little animals with their sgian-dubhs tucked nicely in their checked socks. Yes. Scotland. I think it’s my favourite European country so far.


St. Giles Cathedral on the High Street in Edinburgh was founded in the 12th century, later to be restored in the 19th century and is the main place of worship of the Church of Scotland. The building is impressive in my opinion as it is ancient in age and also has a rather archaic aura to it – which is why I decided to do a “painting” of this building with methods inspired by another artist.


StoreFront_detailIn Cho Heejung’s Stonefront, my favourite feature is how Cho has made used of one point perspective in her piece to make it stand out optically, even though the entire piece is flat – 2D. Cho had made every detail of the piece out of wood pieces stuck onto the base layer, which helps to texture it in the sense of sight and touch. Surfaces that seem to be sticking out are exaggerated by the application of wood stains, creating a shadowing effect if more is applied; and also a 3D effect on the light parts, which make the area seemingly stick out. I find Cho’s application of optical illusions clever: when I first came across her work, I had to pause to look and to wonder whether if it is 3D or not. The whole concept of making something completely flat looking 3D optically interests me.

I started off morphing the shape of the building with tracing paper, a pencil and a massive ruler by altering all three points of perspective in order to exaggerate the shape and form of the cathedral so that there is a sense of potential energy, dynamics in there, rather than having it look flat and still like Cho did in her work. The shape of the cathedral is then jigsawed onto a piece of 5mm thick plywood, serving as the bulk of the piece. Another few adjustments were made in terms of technique applied to my piece – instead of doing what Cho did exactly to her piece, I decided to use ink and bleach since it is able to create a larger sense of contrast so that the shadows and lighted areas I would portray would stand out more, hence able to create a sense of depth – enhancing the “optical illusion”. A piece of watercolour paper is glued onto the surface of the wood before it is painted due to the plywood’s tendency to soak up all the moisture before I could spread the bleach or ink around if I paint it directly onto it.

In the end I think the “optical illusion” worked very well, mainly probably that the ink and bleach are complementary colours and its altered points of perspectives. I would look forward to make similar pieces like that as I thought it would be nice to have a living room wall with buildings portrayed in the similar manner, maybe of different culture, maybe of different era, i.e. having a traditional Chinese temple next to a modern skyscraper, etc. (Sadly I don’t own a jigsaw myself to do this independently.)

If you are interested, visit Cho Heejung’s site here to view more of her works:



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