For the second act, I bring to you the pottery of the Taiwan, coming from the small town of 鶯歌 (pronounced ying1 ge3). This town is roughly an hour from Taipei by local train and is home to Taiwan’s ceramic history and culture. It boasts numerous streets full of ceramics and pottery shops and various museums holding numerous ongoing exhibitions of the country’s ceramics history. Also, within 鶯歌 there is a large urban park, home to countless ceramic and mosaic works that town above the average human, truly a sight to behold.
But what I want share with everyone is the pottery museum – Yingge Ceremics Museum. Located a short walk away from the train station,the museum is a three-storey building housing rich the history, countless works and knowledge of techniques of the local ceramics masters in Taiwan. Inclusive of the basement, three floors hold the wealth of knowledge about pottery in the country ranging from the distant past during the dynasties, to even the prediction of the art’s use in the future. The topmost floor houses an art gallery currently showcasing many works from ceramicist around the country.
The first few pictures show parts of the permanent gallery, displaying the everyday uses of pottery and ceramics. These include conventional vases, pots and pans and statues of chinese deities, even the occasional toilet bowl. The last two exhibit the various techniques of glazing and textural play, explaining the different methods adopted by artists and craftsmen to create the objects we so often take for granted as nothing more than a container for flowers or food.
Revolving around the theme of “the vessel”, countless works decorate the top floor in artists’ perception of a container. Titled “Great Talents, Great Scope: A Cross-field Exhibition of Vessel Art”, the works in the gallery manifest themselves in not only in the form of conventional plates, bowls, teapots and saucers, but aesthetically pleasing fountains, artistic interpretations of the conventional cutlery and utensils as well as abstract process based works. The works display the each artist’s excellent craftsmanship and sensitivity to the medium which probably has taken years to master. Each piece draws the audience in for closer inspection, infused with rich colour and texture. Conventional plates and bowls are seen to have been carefully glazed with the perfect about of oxide or glaze, adding vibrant icy tones as well as rich earthy ones to many piece, bringing the entire floor to life with ceramic installations, series works as well as numerous stand alone pieces. The slideshow below showcases a gallery of some of the works on display:
As can be seen, the masters of these piece have taken great time and effort to create what we now can appreciate in the gallery. Each piece is an attempt to make us rethink about the stereotypes that we have create about “the vessel”. The vessel is more than just a simple container to hold food, water, etc. but a manifestation of a container of something that goes beyond the tangible into the realm of the metaphysical. Personally, I feel that each piece is also a vessel for a part of the artist’s soul, for in art, if the heart and soul is not put into the art-making process, the final result would be meaningless and hollow. Audiences, trained in art or not, will be able to see that the work before them is an empty shell and will also be able to tell from how the artist carries himself if he truly believed his work to be a “success”.
This exhibition will be running till the 18th March 2015 and it is one I recommend for ceramics enthusiast as well as art students and artist alike. Regardless of your specialisation or experience, I am sure you will find something to inspire your next work, whether it is the medium of the different techniques adopted by the artists. In many ways, this exhibition has inspired me greatly to rethink my concepts, particularly the one that I have been sharing about – space. For like a vessel, space is greatly overlook and comes in many shapes and sizes. I hope to adopt the various techniques that ceramicist have use somehow in my journey and experimentation with space. But what has inspired me the most is the curator(s) use of lighting and the environment of the gallery to create an exhibition that manages to balance the quantity of works with the limited exhibition space. It gives each piece sufficient breathing room for audiences to experience them as individual pieces, but also allows the entire theme of “the vessel” to be appreciated as a whole, giving the viewers transitions between each artwork within the gallery. The lighting also illuminates each work to great effect, giving atmosphere and the already three-dimensional works greater depth and substance through its display. The shadows add another level to the
I hope that this exhibition gives you the same kind of inspiration that it has given me for my art making. After coming back from my overseas trip, I will try to create more works than I have done before in the hope that my creative juices will start flowing again and my imaginative spark will rekindle.