Carving Identity: Exploring Chinese Heritage through Wood Prints

Betty Han

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Intro Image
Final Wood Block Carvings of a Second Generations Home - Each wood block 100mm x 100mm

’Carving Identity’ joins a wood carving method and site and reflects on second-generation Chinese identity. The practice of wood carving to wood prints pays a heartfelt tribute to the continued transmission through generations. It alleviates the heaviness of cultural disconnection and feelings of not belonging, evolving into a joyous exploration of Chinese heritage. This thesis represents a personal engagement with the diasporic land and home of a second-generation immigrant of a Chinese family residing on Waiheke Island, New Zealand. The thesis outcome is a gridded series of woodblock prints combined with etching and collaging techniques to explore second-generation home and identity. The production of textures, relief, and colour adds a sense of joy and vibrancy to the narratives of Chinese heritage. ‘Carving Identity’ expresses carving out the layers of land to resurface and celebrate Chinese heritage and culture to mold a distinct and authentic sense of self and home.

Carving Big
Wood Carving Methodology passed down through Generations - Carved on Cypress Macrocarpa
Print Small
Wood Block Printing - Red and green ink on Cypress Macrocarpa

Wood carving as a methodology is passed down from grandfather to father to author. Using wood carving and translating it to Chinese wood printing in the design process was to define an architectural practice and form a sense of identity. It questions whether wood carvings can shape the architectural language of a second-generation Chinese home.

The drawings focus on wood carvings and prints that explore the concept of home and belonging for a second-generation Chinese immigrant. They explore speculative elements and events rather than showing an entire structure. Contrary to what one might expect, the drawings focus on something other than constructing a home but on the personal items that make a home.
Wood Carving to Printing Process
Process of Wood Block Carving to Wood Block Printing
Metaphorical Space Garden
Metaphorical Space of Belonging Series - Wood block print each 100mm x 100mm
Collage Big
The Layers of the Wall - Digital collage of garden print and site
Collage Small
Opening up the Wall - Digital collage of garden print and site
Etching Garden
Documenting the Vegetables in the Garden - Etching print each 100mm x 100mm
Etching Wood Workshop
Documenting the Wood Workshop - Etching print each 100mm x 130mm

Etching and collaging are secondary methodologies to enhance the expression of a lived experience within the wood carving. The intricate detailing of the garden, vegetables, daily life, and the site's textures are expressed through etching, while collaging conveys visual memories of Chinese heritage. It brings forward an experience that is lived through architecture and adds to the narrative of a home of a second generation.

Garden Abstract
Abstracted Garden Series - Layered wood block prints each 150mm x 150mm
Final 6 prints done
Final Wood Block Prints of a Second Generations Home - Each print 500mm x 500mm