J: What led you to pursue art?
L: I love art classes since a young age. Another contributing factor is that my mother works in the textile industry, which bountifully supplies me with fabric scraps for collages and drawings. And I had notions of fashion designers and artists as professionals very early on. All these broadened my vision and understanding of the arts. My first encounter with three-dimensional mediums was during visual arts classes in Form 4. For my School-based Assessment, I tried to make a wooden plaque out of a board from my bed. The process fostered in me a deep interest in sculpture, and so I majored in sculpture later on at Hong Kong Art School.
Reflective fabrics | 2021
Reflective fabrics | 2021
J: From your perspective, what is the relationship between fabrics and sculpture?
L: Influenced by my mother, I have an affinity towards fabrics and sewing. Therefore, I have always wanted to integrate them into my sculptural works. While studying the making of cheongsam, I realised that draping, the act of sculpting the body, is actually similar to moulding in sculpture. This inspired how I combined the two.
J: What led to your interest in cheongsam? Any experience you could share with us?
L: Initially, I studied cheongsam merely for the sake of acquiring another craft for livelihood. Under the tutelage of cheongsam master Fung Yau-choi, I was somewhat able to grasp the techniques and details of cheongsam making, from choosing fabrics, measuring, draping to making knotted buttons. Of course it was impossible to compress six decades of the master’s experience into just a few lessons, but it did lead to my greater understanding of the aesthetics. Hopefully, I can promote this valuable traditional craft to more people, empowering females body confidence through cheongsam.
J: Could you tell us more about “17-5104”, your recent solo exhibition at The Gallery of Hong Kong Art School?
L: 17–5104 is the PANTONE colour code for “Ultimate Grey”. The exhibition title not only reflects the increasingly digital lifestyle of human beings, but also the observation that grey colour is commonly found in our daily necessities and infrastructures. This dull colour is also a reflection of my mood as affected by the social atmosphere in recent years.
The exhibition features my Still life series from 2020 and 2021, which recreates traces of everyday life through reflective fabrics. The 2020 series starts with imitations of stainless steel objects. I love treasure hunting in Sham Shui Po, and will collect different metalware from hawkers and second-hand shops, then examine and deconstruct them one by one. They are then converted into paper patterns, and “moulded” with fabrics into 1:1 replicas of the objects. The creative process not only allows me to learn about these objects, it serves as a record of my life and as an emotional outlet for me too.
Meanwhile, the 2021 series includes neon signs made of brightly-coloured reflective fabrics. The idea came to me while I was on my way home in a taxi at midnight, after working till late on some props and set design, when I noticed all these flickering signs amidst the city shrouded in grey. They seemed illusory and unreal to me, as if detached from all things. I felt that to some extent, this also reflects the situation in Hong Kong, and so I tried to present it in my works. Under flashlight, these works made of reflective materials have a surreal appearance.
J: Apart from fabrics, what other materials have you used in your artworks?
L: I once made a machine called 8km out of iron, which is quite memorable for me because it takes my greatest effort and energy to complete. The installation is like a blown-up bobbin winder that winds a spool of 8-km long thread when visitors pedal it.
Besides fabrics, I am into metals with sharp forms and edges. It is a pity that metalworking requires more space and physical strength, which I lack. Therefore, I use fabrics to create metal-like works. Reflective fabrics, for example, resemble polished metal surfaces. I think Still life series more or less reflects my fondness for metal.
J: Comparing your past and present works, are there any changes in mentality, style or theme?
L: My previous works tend to explore more on social issues. Perhaps because I was working part-time in the service industry then, and would pay close attention to customers’ attitude, if not the social environment at large. These observations led me to create a series of prop-like works, including You look me, which satirises how people measure others by different standards; and Yours sincerely – a metaphor for socially acceptable standard of hospitality. Meanwhile, my current works are mainly inspired by my personal life and inner feelings.
Good morning series towel | 2016
J: Any plans in the future?
L: I am fascinated with rug tufting recently, and wish to share the joy of it with others through holding workshops. In addition, I plan to further enrich myself by applying for the MA programme in Fine Arts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.