top of page

Thoudsand Papers 千紙

Wednesday 28 April - Thursday 6 May 2021

Making Space, 48 Aberfeldy Street, Poplar, London E14 0NU


Private View:  6 - 9 PM, 28 April 2021 

Poplarism! Festival, Poplar Union and Finborough Theatre: 1 - 2 May 2021

First Thursday, Whitechapel Gallery: 2 - 9 PM, 6 May 2021


ShumGhostJohn’s solo exhibition Thousand Papers 千紙 is the first time the Hong Kong art trio presents a newly created community installation cum durational performance of East Asian folktales and traditions in a gallery space. The work connects the community in Poplar to its history of resistance and expands its legacy to a wider context in history. 


Since 2019, ShumGhostJohn has been at the forefront of the ongoing dialogue surrounding art activism with their performance works. The Poplar Rates Rebellion Mural, which was painted by artists during the revolt, has inspired them to put on a show in Poplar, London. The mural tells the stories of the revolt, reminding the activists who put up the Lennon Walls in their home Hong Kong. People wrote down words of encouragement and solidarity on colourful post-it notes and stuck them on the walls. 


Thousand Papers 千紙 started with collecting stories and later became a community installation that holds happiness, sadness, hopes, dreams and memories. The trio leads the activities of folding papers - making origami, a traditional Japanese art form which is popular in Hong Kong. In East Asian culture, traditional funerals often include the burning of folded paper as a ritual to send gifts and companions to the deceased. They invite the spectators to fold paper and create origami - the paper figures and to express their thoughts, stories and memories in the space. Participants write down their hopes and dreams in the origami, expressing their love and care through words.


The work is also a durational performance taking inspiration from  physical gestures and energy at social movements with participants and performers collectively contributing to the making of the work. As making origami is easily accessible, it is an activity for everyone, including the grassroots. With repetition in folding, it is a way of social meditation and healing, enhancing the connection of family, friends and the community. These origami will be tied up and hovered in the air, holding memories and hopes of the Poplar community. The hovering of the origami allows us to put our hopes and dreams high. Together, we sing, dance and celebrate.


The work was previously presented by art duo Ghost and John in exhibitions at Bow Arts, Goldsmiths, and Queen Mary University of London in 2019, later with RUMAH in 2020. In Poplar, the art trio is broadening and adapting this piece in a street store and discovering what chemistry it will create with the local community.

Photos: Jeffrey Choy

Read more:


Poplar London:

East London Advertiser:

bottom of page