Created in memory of his mother, Catherine Siuhing Yiu Sham, who died from cancer in 2002, Foon Sham’s groundbreaking installation featured a large, elongated object made from laminated blocks of wood, mounted on a pedestal. This central boat-like object was surrounded by small boats, folded from handmade paper by gallery visitors and inscribed with their personal prayers or messages for departed friends and relatives. Each paper boat contained a cone of tea leaves, evoking the Eastern tradition of burning incense in memory of deceased ancestors.
Foon Sham described the Sea of Hope project as follows: I made a long, wooden vessel for my mother, who died of cancer in 2002, as a metaphor for her to travel to somewhere peaceful. The tea leaves, which contain anti-oxidants, were used as symbols of cures-hopes. Viewers can participate by writing their messages to their loved ones who also died of cancer, on the paper boats that I provided during the exhibition.
As guest artist at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Foon Sham will create Sea of Hope II in the museum’s Groh Gallery. The commissioned sculpture will, once again, be accompanied by a fleet of handmade paper boats created, inscribed, and dedicated by museum visitors throughout the period of the exhibition.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.