“In the Garden of Time and Flight” by Tuck-Chee Phung

Exhibition extended to Saturday 27th April 2013

Tuck-Chee Phung Exhibition

“The bud

stands for all things,

even for those things that don’t flower,

for everything flowers from within … ”

Galway Kinnell as quoted by Joseph Goldstein (2007)

A Heart Full of Peace (p.75)

Artists Talk – Saturday 23rd March 2013


What a tremendous response to our first Artists Talk at Claremont Gallery. Thanks to everyone who came and to Tuck-Chee for giving such an articulate and inspiring talk! It really was a fantastic afternoon. We couldn’t have wished for a better response to our first artists talk. It really is heartwarming to see the great support we have and we want to say a really big thank you! We are passionate about what we do and endeavour to help play a part in making our city a more culturally vibrant place to live and work. Please continue to support us by spreading the word and please keep visiting other independent creative enterprises within the city. Be the change you want to see – get involved, visit, participate and share.

‘In the Garden of Time and Flight’ by Tuck-Chee Phung continues until Saturday 20th April.

“We shall not cease from exploration.
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

A small selection of the work we have for sale:

Copyright © 2013 Tuck-Chee Phung,  All rights reserved.  Reproduction is not allowed.

Artists Biography 

Tuck Chee Phung was born and brought up in Malaysia where as a child he studied Chinese painting. Later he attended a local University, majoring in Fine Arts. His tertiary education continued in the USA where as a Fulbright scholar he undertook a Masters in Far Eastern Art History. His Ph.D. in Aberdeen University, Scotland was in History of Art.

Tuck Chee’s PhD thesis was on the Dada, the politics of art and the creative process among a small group of conscientious objectors in the First World War. From the Dadaists he learned the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, and that anti-art holds value in demystifying, in artistic and cultural traditions, that preciousness which binds. Moving away from research, he worked as an artist with outpatients in a hospital. That led him to social work; eventually he trained as a social worker and is currently involved in social work education.

Tuck Chee had solo exhibitions in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and then London where his last major exhibition was held in the Commonwealth Institute in 1985. Entitled ‘Inherited Possessions: Images East and West’, it explored dream states, using cross-cultural icons to express the inner world. This was much inspired by his own personal work in dream groups run by Winifred Rushforth in Edinburgh in the 1980s. This current exhibition, ‘In the Garden of Time and Flight’, is an extension and development of that earlier one. After twenty-seven years he has painted again and decided to exhibit once more.

Social work and social work education have been demanding; he has needed to give them all his energy and his time. However as he has grown older his life has been enriched. He is aware of his multi-layered existence. Returning to painting has been part of an integrating process, drawing together the different threads of his life. At this stage, he has resolved to paint only paintings of the spirit and of the soul. This excites him; visually, nothing else matters to him.

Tuck Chee’s current work is influenced by psychoanalytic approaches to exploring archetypes, and particularly by readings from the Jungian analyst Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes. The paintings explore recurring themes and symbolisms, such as the pre-Hellenic version of a story she told of Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. When much moved by the cries of humans trapped beneath, Persephone chose to go down into the underworld. As she descended she was snagged by the tree of wisdom, and she hung upside down for three days; she died and was stripped bare of her clothes. On the third day, by Divine intervention, she was resurrected with new wisdom and emerged, leading those trapped beneath back to Earth.

A parallel with this new insight and wisdom is offered by the twelfth Major Arcana card in the Tarot, the Hanged Man. Writing in ‘Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom’ (1997), Rachel Pollack states: “Artists, writers and psychologists have all felt drawn to this card, with its hints of truths in a simple design” (p.97). The Hanged Man is suspended upside down from Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life.  This tree begins in the underworld (the unconscious) and reaches through the physical world (the conscious) to heaven (the super-conscious). “By reversing his own sense of values the Hanged Man has turned the world on its head” (p.99).

Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life, comes from Norse myth. Its branches reach over the sky, covering the whole world. It has three roots: one is devoured by a terrible creature, another is consumed by fire, and the third is dipped in the pool of knowledge. When the first two roots are destroyed the tree falls, and eternal darkness is spread across the world. (Tan Twan Eng 2012, ‘The Garden of Evening Mist’).

In contrast to this darkness and destruction, Tuck Chee’s paintings explore the notion of hope with its cosmic and celestial constellations held in redemption and liberation.

In the last fifteen years he has also trained and practised as a person-centred counsellor and counselling supervisor. He has learned to accept with all his heart the human spirit wherever it has been.

“Step through that hole, it is an opening.

That hole is a threshold. That hole is a door.

Abre la Puerta, open the door.”

(Abre la Puerta by Clarissa Pinkola Estes (1980, 2007).

Just a small selection of visitors comments about this exhibition:

‘Beautiful, awe-inspiring, stunning!’

“Very exciting and thought provoking.’

‘Wonderful detail, the more I look the more I find.’

‘Brilliant show – really inspiring in all ways.’

‘Thank you for a very inspiring and touching experience.’

Have a peek behind the scenes at Claremont Gallery as we installed this new exhibition:



About msmarmalades

Artist, Gallerist, Collector, Traveller and Foodie. Collections of inspirational places and experiences. Thoughts and observations I’ve made on the way!
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