My work aims to visualise and materialise time, energy, mood, feeling, attention, intuition, as well as the play of the unconsciousness, furthermore to investigate the relationship between the making of objects and what cannot be seen. I start from a position where all these invisible elements are also kinds of materials, which play important roles throughout the process of no-thing becoming a thing. All these invisible elements do not point to the meaning of objects but instead they indicate what is difficult to point towards in any direct manner. It is the latency that makes a thing came alive.


Made of 155 Days

For my MA graduation project in the Royal College of Art, I have re-made a court necklace[1], based on a painting on silk of an Imperial court necklace in the Victoria and Albert Museum. I use my hands to make ‘pearls’ out of different kinds of natural soil gathered from places that I have lived and travelled. I have spent hour after hour, day after day, shaping and polishing until each sphere shines like a pearl. This way of shaping raw clay is extremely delicate, taking lots of time and focused attention. I used the technique called Dorotango and also the skills I have developed myself. The combination of material, temporality, knowledge, skill, mood and feeling is the framework through which value is established. To draw the attention to how we consider the definition of royalty and luxury, I created a seated portrait of me wearing the Hand-made Pearl Court Necklace, making reference to Qing Emperor portraits painted by Castiglione.

[1] The court necklace (Chao Zhu) was a symbol of the imperial power of the Qing dynasty. The use of the court necklace was restricted to imperial nobles and officials down to the fifth rank. The materials each rank of person could use for their court necklace were strictly prescribed. Only the Emperor and Empress could wear pearl court necklace.