Going home might sounds easy, but is incredibly difficult for some people. For people who lives in a big city like London, home is not just a small corner in this massive metropolis. “What is home and where is it?” is what many foreigners constantly ask themselves when they are alone in the dead of night. For them, the definition of home is so simple, yet so unreachable.


Inspired by this complex feeling, Homecoming is the first solo photography exhibition of Chinese lens-based artist Greg Lin JiaJie. Noted for his intimate approach to photography, Greg’s work displays a strong sense of narrative throughout. He extracted the essence of his long-term Project Fujian and curated this exhibition. The exhibition will be held at Studio 59 Gallery in East London from Friday, February 4th to Sunday, February 6th, 2023.

Hailing from a small village in Longyan, Fujian, Greg Lin JiaJie left his hometown alone 11 years ago to study abroad. He likes to record the fragments of life through photography. Every time he returned to his hometown, he found out that people, things and scenery from his childhood memories were changing bits by bits. Under the policy of rural industrialization and the rapid development, much of the open land in his hometown has been replaced by factories. These factories created a polluted environment, which led to more land being abandoned. Villagers moved away from the village in pursuit of a more convenient modern life, and the familiar environment is gradually disappearing. He compared his hometown today to those photos of his hometown that he has taken in the past and asked, what caused such a big change in our lives?


The exhibition contains five walls of printed photography, displaying five aspects about “Homecoming”. On the first wall, Greg uses the largest print to showcase the traditional culture, customs and traces of past in his hometown, so as to express the beautiful memories of the good old days. At the same time, it projects his care for humanities, traditions and local culture.


On the second wall are three smaller frames of printed photographs juxtaposed to resemble a triptych. Titled “A Witness Tree”, the work is actually sequential pictures that Greg took while he slowly passed by the tree in a car. Unlike other of his works which he has to adjust the angle, the light and other elements, the spontaneity and originality of these pictures made him decide to keep them. From a distance, the protagonist of the work seems to be the old tree, but when the viewers look closely, they will find that the main story that Greg wants to tell is actually in the background. Behind the tree, some buildings are under construction, and it won’t be too long before the scenery will be completely different. Through the photos, he invites the viewers to imagine the future of this tree and this landscape, as well as the changes brought about by economic development and industrialization.

The Way Home © Greg Lin JiaJie

A Witness Tree © Greg Lin JiaJie

My Ancestral Home, 2 © Greg Lin JiaJie

Starting from the third wall, the size of the photos on the wall began to get smaller. Plastered with photos of Greg’s hometown, these are the earliest works in his entire project Fujian. The purpose of the work is to simply document the landscape and the environment of his hometown from an aesthetic point of view. Greg hopes to keep these most pristine and straight-forward images in the exhibition as a symbol of his nostalgia and love for his hometown.


The theme on the last two walls gradually shifts from environment to humanities. On the fourth wall, Greg documents the living conditions of his old countryside home. The house is where he and his twin brother grew up, and the field is the property that once supported the household. After the new policy of rural industrialization was drawn, the industrialization of agriculture and the conversion of land into factories resulted in environmental pollution and economic impacts. These factors led villagers to leave the village to make a living in big cities. The roads that have been treaded, the land that has been planted, and the tools that have been used were abandoned and left unattended, and even became worthless in the eyes of others. Greg composed a swan song through images for his old house. The land that was once productive is now barren, and the house that was once full of people is now uninhabited.

The last wall is full of stories about “people”. The protagonists in the images are Greg’s grandfather, twin brother, cousin who still lives in the village, and the neighbor’s kids. This is Greg’s memory of his childhood and his hometown; it recorded the transition that has happened in these places. People and their life are the stories on this wall, narrating his hometown’s past, present and future.


For hundred years, Fujian Province has a culture of “oceangoing migration to the South Sea”. Due to its mountainous, landless and seaward topography, many people in Fujian emigrated overseas and became the mainstream Chinese communities in Southeast Asia, some cities in North America and South America nowadays. Choosing to hold his first exhibition in London, Greg wants to find correlation between his emigratory hometown culture to this multi-ethnic and culturally diverse immigratory metropolis. Having settled in East London for more than eight years, he savvies the Londoners’ feelings of home, especially for those who were born in another country. Through the exhibition, he wants to arouses the viewers’ feeling of wanting to go home. Even though for those foreigners who lives in London, the scenery, the people and the culture in the photos may be unfamiliar to them, but the feeling of missing home is relatable. Greg transformed his nostalgia for his hometown into images, and found a way home for those who visit the exhibition. With an unfamiliar culture and environment, Greg invites them to feel the warmth and emotion brought by the concept “home”.

The Pink Mirror © Greg Lin JiaJie

Longyan Boy © Greg Lin JiaJie

Yuhan At Home © Greg Lin JiaJie

Homecoming is Chinese lens-based artist Greg Lin JiaJie’s first solo exhibition. It will be held at Studio 59 Gallery in East London from Friday, February 4th to Sunday, February 6th, 2023.

Text: Yves Tsou