The Q&A: Meilo So

By Peggy Roalf   Monday May 15, 2017

Q: Originally from Hong Kong, what are some of your favorite things about living and working in the UK?

A: I was born in a concrete forest and now a place with no trees (the Shetland isles). I feel very exposed in the vastness of the land and sea, the winter is long and harsh, there is nowhere to go, the best thing is that you always have time, you have too much time.

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between art you create on paper [or other analog medium] versus in the computer?

A: I take a sketchbook with me when I go on holidays. I like drawing people doing ordinary things.

Q; What is the balance between art you create on paper versus in the computer?

A: Bank balance I guess, people are happier buying a piece of real artwork than a digital image.

Q: What is the most important item in your studio?
A: The kettle.

Q: How do you know when the art is finished?

A: Some artwork only needs one stroke, and many others need days. You need to trust your instinct and believe it.

Loon Wah Teahouse

Q: What was your favorite book as a child?

A: I loved reading the Chinese translation of Cuore, a novel by Edmondo De Amicis, perhaps because I was being bullied in school at that time, and was pleased to get a chance to escape from it.

Q: What is the best book you’ve recently read?

A: I have to say, a book that I have written myself entitled Sweet Memories Are Made of Food.  It is about me as a fat Hong Kong schoolgirl and the memories of delicious street food in the '70s.

The ladies in the Mussel Shed

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose?

A: Black ink

Q: What elements of daily life exert the most influence on your work practice?

A: The need to get on with something.

Q: What was the [Thunderbolt] painting or drawing or film or otherwise that most affected your approach to art?

A: Van Gogh's 'Bedroom in Arles', I saw it as a front cover on an art book just before I was 18, then later the film Lust for Life, with Kirk Douglas, and Van Gogh's letters, of course.

Q: Who was the [Thunderbolt] teacher or mentor or visiting artist who most influenced you early in your training or career?
A: My husband Ron Sandford.

Dim sum restaurant

Q: What would be your last supper?

A: A bowl of steamed rice with lots of chilli oil.

Egg waffle

Meilo So
Country of origin China
Made in Hongkong
Packaged in England
Domiciled in the Shetland Isles
A tangled history
Or a kind of freedom
Many cultures make a world citizen
Not a purist
Methods and media change as required
Pen and ink, brush drawing, gouache
Subjects endlessly varied
Magic, history, animals, humour, children, sex
Or a quick sketch from life