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Jiazhen Cai

Jiazhen Cai is an illustrator and visual artist from China who is currently based in London. Her practice is inspired by daily illusions and the gaps in society and institutions. Addressing imaginative storytelling and atmosphere making, she emerges herself in illustration, visual design, and moving image. 

Jiazhen won a Top Talent in the Adobe Design Achievement Awards (2019), and her works received honours from Central Academy of Fine Arts, Creative Quarterly, iJungle Illustration Awards, and Hiii Illustration.

Degree Details

School of Communication


A human is an essential container for holding stories. Humans record tales and leave traces behind. We obtain information from everything around us, records, ruins, facts, and rumours. My research is inspired by three letters written between 1990 and 1991 from my father to my mother. Through interviews and remote local research, my frozen memory of my birthplace, Dalian, came alive. 

People always look back to their homeland once they have left. And when they take a distant perspective, jumping out of their original growing place, they may realise how the place changes, develops, or stagnates. Many factors could make a place change, people, communities, institutions, government... But anyway, the birthplace still grows in my mind. And there is always remembering while forgetting.


My lively memory of the city is frozen in the late summer of 2014. 

I was born in a coastal city in the northeast of China. After years of growing up here, I left it. My born city has gradually become a symbol to me, with the highlights of my earlier life buried there. Some moments with people, views of places, and appearance of structures are still quite clear, but everything just like has been thrown into the mist, as time is passing. My impression of the city continues to grow. The deviations and gaps between my imagination and the city in authentic reports become unique, mysterious, and charming. The content of that place experienced replacement, abandonment and rebirth.

onNodeFocus explores six sites and related events of my birthplace. From the perspective of either an inhabitant or a bystander, the narrative lets audiences peek into the facts, emergencies, rumours, creations, and reconstructions that happened in Dalian, reflecting on the resources and information transfer in places. This film uses monochromatic drawing and frame-by-frame animation to make sequential statements and imaginations of place, and to a large extent eliminates my emotions that could be triggered by colour.

The city is my city, and the city in my mind.


Digital Drawing, Sound


The Observer
Rebirth or Abandonment
Cinderella in The Shell
The Escaping Cinderella


Digital Drawing


2048px * 2732px