Ellen Yiu


Hong Kong/British


The Hague



I was born in Hong Kong in 1997, just after the handover. I imagine myself as the latter twin in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, with an older brother who was born under British colonial rule. My artistic practise is shaped not only by my split cultural identity, having lived in Hong Kong, England, France and the Netherlands, but is also shaped by a broad interest in textiles, traditional crafts and techniques. I recently wrote a thesis exploring my fascination with miniatures and the relationship and their containers, in particular the Moon Museum (1969), transported by Apollo 12. My miniature works have been shown at ‘The Tiny Art Gallery’ (2020) and at ‘Projektruimte WEST END’ (2021) in The Hague.

SUBMISSION: Fingernail Loop Book

To a millennial growing up with cascading connectivity through transport and internet, the world is awash with promise. We come expecting rapid answers and solutions to worldly issues, yet we are continuously overcome by the imminence of war, the pandemic and climate change, overvaluing our human significance on Earth. In my search for value through the eyes of an artist, I can only think of the universality of our human hands, the first tool. Through hands we form communication, creating both abstract language and physical constructions. We cannot selectively choose a single person to define humankind, yet alone a single piece of instrument or literature; our complex littleness expands multifold. We can only hint at the limitless of human capability within the boundaries of time. The concertina book unfolds to create multiple possibilities, it can be read as a continuous loop with no beginning or ending, and when one side of the cover is rotated 90 degrees, it may form a Möbius loop of narration. Within the concertina are 10 drawings of my 10 fingernails, an ode to humanity’s rich history of making with our hands, our universal language of survival and influence.