'Returning Home' is the first self authored graphic novel by illustrator Cat O'Neil. The novel centres on a young mixed race woman exploring her half Chinese, half British cultural identity. After a melancholic end to university, she embarks on a trip with her mother to her mother's native home in Hong Kong. This is the first time they have returned to Hong Kong in 10 years.
Set in both the idyllic countryside of Scotland and the vibrant metropolis of Hong Kong, she explores her identity not only in terms of culture, heritage and upbringing, but also her associations with a physical place. As she learns more about herself and her mother, she meets another half Chinese, half British man and for the first time her experiences resonate with another. 'Returning Home' is a story of discovery, and an exploration of what 'home' means in a mixed cultural environment. But it is also a story of the bond between a mother and daughter.
This project is a deeply personal exploration which began with Cat O'Neil's own mixed race heritage. With the support of Arts Council England, Cat was able to undertake a self initiated artist residency in Hong Kong for 4 months and create observational work which formed the basis of 'Returning Home'. This exhibition will showcase previously unseen original artwork for Part One of the graphic novel and observational work from her residency in Hong Kong. This will display a rare insight into the process of writing, drawing and developing a full length graphic novel.
Cat O'Neil is a half Chinese, half British illustrator currently living in London. Since graduating in 2011 from Edinburgh College of Art, Cat has won the Cheltenham Illustration Awards (2013), been shortlisted for the Association Of Illustrators Awards (2014 & 2013), selected for the AOI Images: Best Of British Illustration (2012), selected for the Society Of Illustrators (New York) Illustrators 55, and awarded merit in 3x3 Magazine Of Contemporary Illustration Pro Show No.9.
Cat previously taught part time at Edinburgh College of Art working as a Teaching Assistant, Artist In Residence and leading the Illustration Evening Class (Intermediate-Advanced) programme. In September 2014 Cat will be returning to Hong Kong for a 4 month Artist Residency with Lingnan University, where she will be teaching Illustration as Sequential Narrative.
She has exhibited in group shows in Hong Kong (Fotanian 2014), New York (Museum Of American Illustration 2013), Edinburgh (Royal Scottish Academy 2012) and London (Somerset House 2012). 'Returning Home' at The Coningsby Gallery is her debut solo gallery exhibition.