Scotty So: Queen of Begonias & Hai Kot Tou

Scotty So Guchi 2021 digital photograph courtesy of MARS Gallery and the artistOpening 23 February, the Art Gallery of Ballarat is thrilled to present Scotty So: Queen of Begonias & Hai Kot Tou as part of PHOTO2024.

Scotty So is a Melbourne-based artist who works across media, using painting, photography, sculptures, site-responsive installation, videos and drag performance.

Driven by the thrill of camp, he explores the often-contradictory relationship between humour and sincerity within lived experience to offer a glimpse of a future society that embraces difference.

Previously seen online for PHOTO2021, the exhibition features the premiere of a new video work by So where he pays tribute to the Begonia Queens, a feature of Ballarat’s Begonia Festival from 1953 to 1993.

The Ballarat Begonia Festival is an innovative garden-based horticultural event that showcases Ballarat’s natural assets including its unique and rare collections of begonias. Scotty So will be part of the Ballarat Begonia Festival parade held on Monday 11 March.

The video work will be complemented by images from his series Hai Kot Tou, exhibited for the first time in Australia.

In this series, the artist is photographed dressed in ripped-off items from high-fashion brands, echoing the head to-toe monogram trend of the new money in Asia, with matching grocery trolleys, a tribute to his Hong Kong grandmother.

“Hai Kot Tou emphasises vanity and beauty through the use of ripped-off monogram prints on Cheongsam and grocery trolleys,” said Scotty So. “Growing up in a working-class family in Hong Kong, I saw my grandmother using the grocery trolleys and wearing a glamorous fake Burberry scarf at the wet market.”

“Inspired by the beauty of the scarf and the spirit of hard work, I created this collection of photographs in which I dressed in all fake items from each brand with a matching grocery trolley echoing the head-to-toe monogram trend of the new money in Asia.”

Photo Australia was established in 2018 by Artistic Director Elias Redstone in partnership with founding board members William Bowness AO, Mark Henry and Naomi Milgrom AC to deliver a major new photography biennial for Australia.

Photo Australia supports universal access to diverse, progressive, meaningful discourse through the commissioning, presentation and promotion of new photography, art and ideas.

Located in Melbourne and extending to cities across regional Victoria, PHOTO is Australia’s largest photography event and is delivered in collaboration with over 50 cultural, education, industry and government partners.

Responding to a central theme, the biennial invites artists, curators, academics and audiences to interrogate the major issues of our time through a program of exhibitions in galleries and outdoor locations, alongside events and professional development programs.

Dedicated to contemporary photography, PHOTO is focussed on premiering new work alongside exclusive presentations by international artists.

Scotty So: Queen of Begonias & Hai Kot Tou
Art Gallery of Ballarat, 40 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat
Exhibition: 23 February – 4 April 2024
Free entry

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Scotty So, Guchi, 2021, digital photograph – courtesy of MARS Gallery and the artist