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The first 64 Mothers-in-Law at Sydney's SLOT Gallery Exhibition

The Story of Mother-in-Law

What started as a quick line drawing on artist George Burchett’s iPad® to test a new 3D printer, became the beginning of the Mother-in-Law Collection. George signed and dated his first drawing June 12, 2021.

No-one imagined that day was the birth of an extraordinary art project — many think the first — to use the most important 3D technology innovations in decades to bring art to life in multiple new dimensions.

George's first ever Mother-in-Law sketch

Soon after making that first sketch, working in his studio with his technically and artistically-talented son Graham, the two produced the first 3D monochrome print of Mother-in-Law. Artists would call her the Genesis. Techies call her 1.0.

George was born in Hanoi in the mid 1950s, son of legendary Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett. After growing up in unique circumstances in Hanoi and Phnom Penh, George studied art to a high level in Paris and Sofia before his artistic skills took him all over the world. His unique works have found their way into museums, public spaces and important collections.

Returning to live in Hanoi in 2011, George felt deeply reconnected with the city of his birth. The Hanoi sense of local community and family – and in particular the spirited matriarchal role of women – were little changed, even if parts of the city landscape and world around had transformed in so many ways.

Mẹ chồng” is Vietnamese for mother-in-law. Wherever we go, whichever culture we live in, we hear artful, captivating and often inspiring or entertaining stories about mothers-in-law. Many of us have our own to share.

After 3D printing that first sketch, George hand-painted the 3D figure and found she became very much alive. The 3D printed figure can rotate her head, arms, torso and feet.

George's first 3D printed Mother-in-Law, hand painted

A second Mother-in-Law soon followed and then a third.

The first three hand-painted Mothers-in-Law

George joked that he should create a Mother-in-Law army.

Around that time, George received a request from a gallery owner in Sydney, asking him to exhibit there in January to February 2022. George proposed to exhibit 64 hand-painted Mothers-in-Law in a square 8 x 8 formation to fill the gallery window from top to bottom. He called his installation From Hanoi with Love.

His proposal was accepted, so between August and November 2021, George produced 64 different hand-painted figures, using the exact same 3D printed figure. Each Mother-in-Law was the same, yet different. Over time, they also became more evolved as artistic expression. One thing remained constant though: each was created with tender care and love. And good spirit and humor.

In early November 2021, before George packed and shipped his first Mothers-in-Law off to Sydney, he assembled a group photo of his new ‘army’ and shared it with friends and collectors.

The shared group photo of the first 64 Mothers-in-Laws

Among those collectors, Adrian Jones was making a first trip back to Silicon Valley after Covid lockdowns, meeting with old and new tech industry friends. The photo of the 64 Mothers-in-Law struck a chord with them. After many hours of talking, Adrian and George decided to bring together the capabilities of their wider teams to make an art and technology collaboration, including building an App using Augmented Reality (AR) to bring George’s art works into the three-dimensional AR world.

Soon, George found he was collaborating on a new Augmented Reality (AR) platform – now known as the NIYOS AR viewer. He was inspired to work long hours and days expanding the series of Mother-in-Law, creating all-digital, all color versions.

In December 2021, it was time for Art Basel Miami. A preview version of the first all-digital Mother-in-Law arrived at Art Basel and toured Miami in Augmented Reality. Everyone who saw her loved her.

Prototype NIYOS Augmented Reality App arrives at Art Basel Miami, Dec 2021

In January 2022, a large wall print of Mothers-in-Law was shown at the Goethe Institute in Hanoi as part of the In Art We Trust exhibition. Previews of more 3D AR Mothers-in-Law appeared at the exhibition too.

In February and March, Mother-in-Law went on a pre-release tour, visiting the Caribbean, New York, Paris and Rome, finding herself at the Louvre and Eiffel Tower and captured alongside Picasso’s and Van Gogh’s masterpieces in MoMA.

Mother-in-Law at MoMA alongside Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon

Mid March 2022 was another milestone: the first full-color, unique and original larger size 3D printed Mothers-in-Law started to be produced in George’s Hanoi studio.

Artist George in his studio with his first 3D color printed Mother-in-Laws

April saw Mother-in-Law take on new forms. George used a 3D printed Mother-in-Law as his template to make new prints on hand-made giấy dó paper. Her travels also continued with a return to Miami and New York. A growing team started to support the development of the project. 

At work in George's print studio

Mother-in-Law made it to the summit of the Empire State Building and even found herself mingling with other curious visitors from across the world, outside the Greenwich Village apartment building made famous by the legendary TV series ‘Friends’.

On top of the world? Well, at least New York at the Empire State Building
In Greenwich Village in the right place to make new 'Friends'

After secret previews to some curators and collectors, George and the growing global team developed the concept of creating the same piece of art in multiple ‘dimensions’: simultaneously physical and digital, in both 3D and 2D. The team also looked into including NFTs but quickly identified fundamental flaws with the model that still needed to be addressed before tokenization would make long-term sense for artists and collectors.

In early 2022, George’s studio started working with state-of-the-art full color, 3D printers and the powerful computers that you need to model the 3D art works. Whilst the original Mothers-in-Law were printed in single-color and hand-painted, the 3D printers allowed for a changing between different colored filaments, to create full-color prints.

Development continued on Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Beautiful presentation boxes were designed and created to package and present each Mother-in-Law 3D sculpture and physical print, uniquely customised by George with her name, serial number, date of creation and his signature. 

Mother-in-Law 'Kiss' playing in busy Bangkok traffic
General Dragon in her Presentation Box

By August 2023, George’s Mother-in-Law Collection was ready for her official debut. Among collectors, museum leaders, artists and the curious, Mother-in-Law made her first public entrance at A+ Works of Art in Kuala Lumpur. The one-of-one 3D-printed sculptures were displayed alongside 2D pigment ink prints. The NIYOS AR App was used to illustrate the third dimension: 3D digital.  

Gallery owner Joshua Lim at the Mother-in-Law collection debut at his A+ Works of Art gallery in Kuala Lumpur in August 2023
Collector Bingley Sim collecting his 'Kiss' Mother-in-Law from artist George Burchett at A+ Works of Art, Kuala Lumpur, August 2023

In October 2023, a special presentation of Mother-in-Law Collection will appear at Open Studios Penang, including appearing in her first hologram. She feels like she is just getting started!

Setting up ahead of Open Studios Penang, August 2023

So that is the story of Mother-in-Law so far, the Hanoi housewife in her everyday pyjamas  inspired by a line drawing on an iPad  now becoming a global Augmented Reality citizen, 3D printed sculpture and multi-dimensional warrior.

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