Creative Forces: Anna Gleeson and 'Ha Wan Pao'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 November, 2012, 10:40am

The modest magazine Ha Wan Pao caught my attention with its understated design, unpretentious content and simple credo of being "a monthly paper about people who make beautiful things". It is "created", rather than just published, by Anna Gleeson.

The 34-year-old Australian studied creative media, including filmmaking, and has lived in Hong Kong for three years after stints in Japan and the US.

Her art and design practice includes the publication of Ha Wan Pao, a loose-leaf 24-page magazine printed on a Risograph RP3700 machine by the Ink'chacha Print Collective - a production that promotes (and feels like a) community effort.

Taking its title from an old name for Wan Chai in which it was originally conceived, Ha Wan Pao is inspired by Yanesan, a similar community magazine promoting local artisans, crafts and businesses in the inner Tokyo districts of Yanegi, Nezu and Sendagi.

The magazine runs interviews conducted by Gleeson and a contributor, Furze Chan. Gleeson had seen Chan's artwork and thought "she would probably be a friend, if I knew her".

They did meet, became friends and Chan now provides photography for the magazine as well as a monthly interview. Her brother gives enigmatic "language advice".

The magazine celebrates creativity in all guises. Particularly informative are interviews with a range of people about their work and the tools they use.

Veterinary surgeon Colt Ma explains that an otoscope is a "device that checks on the teeth condition of small animals" and that "his own hands are crucial for veterinary diagnosis", including "for palpation" by which "the state of organs can all be 'felt'." Cross-referencing and subtle links between articles runs through the magazine; the veterinarian's open hand features on the cover.

Gleeson starts designing the magazine from its centrefold spread of images and then includes other interviews and layout from this central focus. There is design balance and harmony. The predominantly single-colour printing and raw feel give the production strength.

Ha Wan Pao has no glossy photography or advertising, save for an almost humble listing of each interviewee's contact details.

Modeller Dennis Chan converts existing bus models into custom orders for clients, and has a centrefold of 12 photographs of his work tools and a finished model. Artist Sarah Lai explains her preparations for painting, using her favourite Artrend brand paint brushes and that her "brush washer" tin container has "been with her for many years [and] I clean it once in a while".

A photograph of this paint-mottled container is the centrefold for Issue No 2. The registration of the printing is not exact in these spreads, creating a beautiful, ghostly, skewed feel and both newsprint centrefold spreads appear as art-like print objects.

Indeed, only a limited quantity of Ha Wan Pao is printed and available from independent bookshops. Alternatively, go to

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