Basil Pao


Artist Biography:

Basil Pao, whose Chinese name is Ho-Yun, was born in Hong Kong and began his career as an art director and graphic designer in New York and Los Angeles. His work at the time included the creation of record covers and posters for companies including Atlantic Records, Polygram and Warner Bros. During his work, Basil Pao met Michael Palin when they worked together on the book for the Monty Python film “Life of Brian”. He returned to Hong Kong in 1980 and began a new career in the world of photography, but when Michael Palin undertook his first epic trip for BBC Television in 1988, entitled Around the World in 80 Days, he asked Basil Pao if he would act as his guide for the part of the series which was based in Hong Kong. After a couple of days in Hong Kong, he was then asked to accompany the BBC team as a guide and interpreter on the stretch to Shanghai and many of the photographs taken on this part of the trip were later used in the best-selling book published to tie in with the television series. In 1992, when Michael Palin and the BBC were putting together a new programme, Pole to Pole, they decided to take a full-time stills photographer with the team and asked Basil Pao to accompany them again. A selection of the 30,000 photographs he took on that trip were later also used in the series book and Basil Pao has subsequently accompanied Michael Palin on other trips he has made for BBC TV, including Full Circle, Hemingway Adventure, Sahara, Himalaya and New Europe. Basil Pao has also produced several photographic books of his own, illustrating his remarkable tours of places as diverse as Aman, China and Bhutan. Other books in his name include one with the title “Hands”, containing only pictures of people’s hands taken during his travels around the world. He also took photographs for Bernardo Bertolucci’s films The Last Emperor and Little Buddha and he was an Assistant Director, and even an actor, in the Oscar-winning The Last Emperor. His photographic exhibitions have toured Asia and Europe.

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