Ho Tam

Visual Art:



Various elements including video projection, text, colour photography and painted panels

Year: 2006


Exhibited at:

Paul Petro Contemporary Art, Toronto

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Platform Gallery, Winnipeg

Victoria Arts Council


"In March 2005 I was invited by the Canadian Forces Artist Program to join the company of the Navy ship HMCS Calgary that sailed from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii back to the Esquimalt Naval Base. Through this 10-day journey and my subsequent contacts with the Naval personnel, I was able to gain access to the crew, to observe their daily activities and was therefore exposed to a community and an environment that was a unique and quite different from anything that I have ever done.


From the materials and documentations that I have collected on the trip I have carried out a project that is based on my experience of the journey. Entitled Romances, the project is an exploration of the sea and the navy, one that combines facts and fictions. To continue my long-time study of gender and race, Romances examines the various constructs of masculinity, military and nationality.


The title Romances refers to the romance of the sea that perhaps has been a very "Victorian" concept. The romantic notion of the sea has given rise to plenty of myths and imaginations, from the political to the personal. In bringing together the rich symbolism and reference about the sea and the voyage, I seek to construct a complex yet open-ended larger narrative(s).


As there has been many works made about the sea, I see that this new work resonates with the long tradition of the maritime art such as the work of English painter Turner that depicts the violence and virility of the sea, and the Japanese artist Hokusai's woodblock prints of the 36 Views of Mt. Fuji which often includes waves and tides.


In the past, most of my works have often concentrated on an articulation through a singular medium. In Romances, I have expanded into a more multi-disciplinary approach that reflects my art practice (as a painter, photographer, video artist) and at the same time to let the work function as a multitude that will enable numerous imaginations and readings. While the narratives are open and function on different levels, the installation includes the various mediums of painting, video and photography."


-- Ho Tam, 2005-2006