New works for Hanna Moon & Joyce Ng: English as a Second Language at Somerset House announced

25 January – 28 April 2019




This winter, Somerset House presents Hanna Moon & Joyce Ng: English as a Second Language, a new photography exhibition celebrating the work of two of the most exciting photographers working in fashion today, Hanna Moon and Joyce Ng. In our globalised and interconnected world, English as a Second Language celebrates the vitality and importance of fresh perspectives within fashion photography.

English as a Second Language sees acclaimed Asian-born, London-based photographers Moon and Ng, responding directly to Somerset House’s historical setting with a new series of photography works commissioned by Somerset House. Employing an otherworldly and playful approach to their practice, the photographers incorporate cultural signifiers, set design and fashion to present their unique take on Western aesthetics and fashion ideals. Bringing distinct Asian perspectives to their work, Moon and Ng challenge the concept of ‘otherness’ and reflect upon the power fashion photography holds in shaping our perceptions of beauty, style and taste.

Curated by Shonagh Marshall, the exhibition explores the artists’ feelings of being ‘lost in translation’, a feeling which, as artists living in a foreign city navigating different languages and shifting landscapes, informs Moon and Ng’s search for capturing beauty in the often overlooked and unseen narratives in our everyday lives.

Arranged across three rooms, English as a Second Language is specially developed with award-winning creative direction and design practice Studio Veronica Ditting. Ditting creates a space which both displays and encapsulates the spirit of Moon and Ng’s works in its unconventional design.

Upon entering the exhibition, visitors first encounter the work of critically acclaimed fashion photographer and founder of A Nice Magazine, Hanna Moon. In ‘Heejin and Moffy’, Moon utilises the neoclassical architecture of Somerset House to capture imagery of her two muses; Moffy, from London, and Heejin, from South Korea. Shot at night, Moon rebelliously ‘invades’ the site to create a series of intimate works. Utilising bespoke sets and objects that reflect her personal experiences living in UK, including a surgical-style face mask and Heejin’s mother’s wedding dress, Moon presents a dramatic reimagining of Somerset House’s neoclassical setting. 

English as a Second Language continues with Joyce Ng, a rising star within today’s fashion landscape, who uses street-casted models, natural environments and props to create images which feel both familiar, yet surreal. For this exhibition, Joyce cast solely from Somerset House’s vibrant community across a six-week period, inviting visitors and residents to take part in a series of shoots on-site. Drawing inspiration from the renowned sixteenth century Chinese novel Journey to the West, a story of the epic fabled pilgrimage of Tang Sanzang, a Buddhist monk journeying West in search of sacred texts, Joyce selected participants, all of whom had no prior modelling experience, to become characters in a fragmented narrative through the hidden and public spaces of Somerset House.

Working with stylists Agata Belcen and Makram Bitar, the images feature clothing from international designers and renowned brands including Vivienne Westwood, Philip Treacy, Elizabeth Emanuel Archive, Molly Goddard, Ovelia Transtoto, Yohji Yamamoto, Paula Canovas, Zandra Rhodes Archive, Orient 499 and National Theatre Costumes.

The exhibition also invites visitors to explore works from Moon and Ng’s fashion photography archive from the past four years, with imagery taken for publications such as Dazed, i-D, Modern Weekly, Centrefold, Re-Edition, M Le Magazine du Monde, Modern Matter, 1 Granary and David Casavant Archive Book. Showcasing the photographers’ varying stylistic approaches side by side in their original print form, the works present a fresh new wave of image making that celebrates differing world views. 

A number of public events will accompany the exhibition including in-conversation curator talks and workshops that explore fashion photography’s social, political and global impact.  Further details to be announced soon.

English as a Second Language is the next exhibition in Charles Russell Speechlys Terrace Room Series, an ongoing partnership with the leading law firm to present a wide range of free exhibitions reflecting the broad interests of both organisations. With additional support from the Korean Cultural Centre UK.



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Hanna Moon is an artist, photographer and creative interlocutor, born in South Korea, and based in London. Her first critically-acclaimed contribution to fashion culture was her launch of A Nice Magazine, created by Moon for her graduation from Central Saint Martins, London, in 2014.  Intentionally working with ideas and subjects outside of the conventions of fashion photography, Moon has defined herself as an important voice in the field. Breathing new life into fashion with her

personal narratives and truths she creates images relevant to our times.  Her work has featured in AnOther Magazine, Arena Homme+, British Vogue, Dazed, i-D, The Gentlewoman, Self Service, M le Magazine du Monde, Modern Matter, and Re-Edition, constructing visual identities for brands including Adidas, Givenchy, Kenzo, Proenza Schouler, Stella McCartney, Stussy, Supreme, Topshop and Versus Versace.


Joyce Ng is a London-based fashion photographer. She studied at Central Saint Martins, graduating in 2014. Joyce spent her youth in the multitude of sprawling malls throughout the city of formerly-colonised Hong Kong. In her images she constructs a play between reality and built environments, making subtle reference to vast array of product merchandising she grew up with. A surreal tone throughout, our eye is constantly drawn to something odd, be it a pagoda-shaped shadow to a giant papier maché head. Growing up watching tourists merge with mainlanders and fellow locals, she developed her eye for street casting – she has worked behind the scenes casting for brands like Wales Bonner. Creating fashion images for magazines including Modern Weekly, i-D, Dazed, Numero China, and for brands such as David Casavant Archive, Carhartt, Kenzo, Super Yaya, Gucci and Sony Music, Joyce is an exciting rising star within the fashion landscape. 


Shonagh Marshall is an independent curator; her most recent project entitled Posturing explored the pose in contemporary fashion photography through exhibition, film commission by Coco Capitán and book. Previously at Somerset House where she curated Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!, Utopian Voices, Here and Now and Hair by Sam McKnight, her curatorial approach is centered on the role of fashion within contemporary culture and demystifying the process behind image- making.


Studio Veronica Ditting is an award-winning creative direction and design studio based in London. Veronica is the creative director of biannual women’s magazine The Gentlewoman, which has been designed and produced in collaboration with Studio Veronica Ditting since its first edition in 2010. The practice is characterised by a strong signature that is resolutely editorially driven, working closely with photographers, artists, editors and writers to realise ideas at their most definitive. Recent clients have included the brands Hermès and Tiffany & Co, and the art institutions Het Nieuwe Instituut and White Cube.


Inspiring contemporary culture

One of the city’s most spectacular and well-loved spaces, Somerset House is a new kind of arts centre in the heart of London, designed for today’s audiences, artists and creatives – an inspirational community where contemporary culture is imagined, created and experienced.

From its 18th Century origins, Somerset House has played a central role in our society as a place where our culture and collective understanding of the world is shaped and defined. In 2000, it began its reinvention as a cultural powerhouse and home for arts and culture today, creating unique and stimulating experiences for the public, bringing them into direct contact with ideas from the greatest artists, makers and thinkers of our time. Our distinctive and dynamic year-round programme spans the contemporary arts in all its forms, from cutting-edge exhibitions and installations to annual festivals, seasonal events in the courtyard including Film4 Summer Screen, Summer Series and Skate, and an extensive learning and engagement programme.

As well as welcoming over 3million visitors annually, Somerset House houses the largest and most diverse creative communities in the country – from one-person start-ups to successful creative enterprises including British Fashion Council, Dance Umbrella, Improbable Theatre, Hofesh Shechter Company, and Dartmouth Films.

In 2016 we launched Somerset House Studios – a new experimental workspace connecting artists, makers and thinkers with audiences. Currently housing over 80 artists and Makerversity (a community of over 250 emergent makers), the Studios are a platform for the development of new creative projects and collaboration, promoting work that pushes bold ideas, engages with urgent issues and pioneers new technologies. 


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