Inchinatown's Blog

February 9, 2012

Breathe: varied works by women of Chinese ancestry

Megan Keating, Li Baoying, Roslyn Yeung & Suna Xie. Cindy Chen's ' Soundscape-Karniya Metta Sutta' on the left, Megan Keating's 'Exhale' on the right.

Six artists and curator Imogen Yang  gathered at Art Atrium http://www.artatrium.com.au/exhibitions.html on February 3 to talk about their work, an enthusiastic audience in attendance. In the gallery’s intimate space the artists were generous in talking of their backgrounds, inspirations,  and artworks. Penang -born  Cindy Chen’s work ‘Soundscape-Karaniya Metta Sutta’ explores the emotional and psychological effect of sound on our experience of home. It is inspired by the sounds of her mother’s daily Buddhist chants.

Cindy Chen and Li Cui

Li Cui was born in China, relocating to Australia only 14 months ago. Previously she had no idea that many millions people of Chinese ancestry live outside of China. The Chinese diaspora has become a source of fascination. Her paintings, Golden Age I, II and III, use the motifs of embroidered shoes, bridal sedan and phoenix crown as “symbols of Chinese culture that are carried on by Chinese immigrants despite their living out of China. ”

Suna Xie grew up in rural China and Li Baoying’s family is also from rural China. After extended time in England and Australia as well as China, Suna explores her ‘ unresolved thoughts around identity ‘ as a ’36 year old migrant Chinese woman’ in “36 years” . This work features stones gathered from the South coast of New South Wales fused with elements of northern Chinese and English food as well as natural elements from Australia. The work also includes handmade books in which Suna writes about 36 issues that she has faced, one for each year of her life.

'36 Years' by Suna Xie

A stone from '36 years'

Beiing-born Li Baoying’s work is now focused on the wilderness landscape of Tasmania. Trained as a painter, Li Baoying’s current works are photographic and may be viewed at http://www.baoyingli.com/ .

Roslyn Yeung and Megan Keating were born in Australia, Roslyn’s parents migrating from Hong Kong. Roslyn’s work, “To what shall I compare this life of ours? Even before I can say it is like a lightning flash on a dewdrop it is no more’  is a response to the  Victorian bushfires of Black Saturday on February 7th, 2008 during which two friends died.

Megan is an adoptee who discovered recently that her  birth mother was Chinese. Her collection of works, ‘Exhale’, explores the inability of language or text to fully express ‘the range and profundity of so much of human experience.’ This work has a  modern graphic appearance  created using the  traditional,labour intensive  stencil cutting technique of katagami.  The use of mica leads to a mirror effect. Megan Keating adds “These works are ambiguous utterings, silent fragile moments, fleeting moments that can’t be pinned down with certainty.’

It was a pleasure and a privilege to meet these fascinating women of varied Chinese ancestry and to view their art.

By Helen Fong         Follow me on twitter at @helenchinatown

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