Three Variations on the Plum Blossom Theme

PhotographerMo Zhuang Ze
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

"Three Variations on the Plum Blossom Theme" is the title I gave to these 3 "two-structured" style Bonsai cultivated by my father between the 1960s to 1980s. I was inspired by a piece of music with the same title written in 4th century China and commonly played on the "Guqin”, a 5000 year old instrument. The song, which I have reproduced visually as a study of my father's ideas on bonsai cultivation, consists of three slightly different melodies and is often referred to as a music of evolution.  Combining scanned composites from my family’s personal photo archives with newly shot photographs, I was able to recreate these three bonsai that were cultivated by my father over a period of thirty years. The digital images were then printed life size on rice paper, and after applying my Chinese seal onto the printed pots I re-photographed them to produce the final artwork in the style of Chinese painting. By using the plum blossom, one of the most beloved flowers in China, and incorporating the style of “digital” Ink wash painting together with printing on rice paper, both of which were great inventions from the Tang dynasty, I hope that viewers will have greater appreciation of the art and history of bonsai. 1st Variation - Calling out to the moon (70cm x 70cm) 2nd variation - Threading Clouds (70cm x 70cm”) 3rd Variation - River Crossing (100cm x 70cm)

About Photographer

Mo, born in Singapore graduated from Temasek Polytechnic School of Design. Mo grew up studying the piano with his mother and bonsai cultivation from his father, whose lifeworks are housed at the Shanghai Botanical Garden. Mo has exhibited both nationally and internationally, including the first solo bonsai art & photography exhibition in Singapore which featured 50 life-size works based on his family’s bonsai spanning over six decades. Influenced by his upbringing, Mo devotes his time exploring the structure and history of both horticulture and classical music, inevitably most of his artworks are a fusion of both subjects. Besides his music and horticulture works, Mo has also received numerous awards in the genre of self portrait & architecture at the International Photography Awards, Nikon Africa Photography Awards, Singapore Young Photographers Awards, Maine Media Contest etc. Mo photographs primarily on the long-discontinued Kodak Ektar 25 after obtaining a few hundred rolls many years back. Mo’s works can be seen at