An Exploration of Brushstroke Movements
Best of Both Worlds is a textile collection which channels inspiration from my cultural and personal identity. This includes the personal experience of living between two worlds; the hearing and the deaf. This series of ceramic tiles acts as the third space, a multi-cultural identity expressed through the application of the Chinese calligraphy abstraction style known as 'shu fa'. The designs apply the brushstrokes inspired by my Nai Nai's (grandmother) painting techniques, and incorporate scaled movements or 'daxieyi', a large freeform style. The combinatory colour aesthetics relate to memory and invoke emotions and feelings, known as 'xianhuo', meaning aliveness. The three main colours selected for this collection are inspired by the elemental senses; fire, water and air. These senses are interpreted into textiles through the energy of sound or silence both emotionally and culturally. The movement of the brushstrokes convey the emotions and feelings arising from living between both worlds.
Best of Both Worlds embodies the belief that expressing cultural and personal identity through textiles can be achieved through the movement of a brushstroke. I observed that personal interactions are fundamentally influenced by my culture and identity, as it plays a critical role in my textile practice. Both sound and silence are how I view the world around me and have influenced how I design. Recognising that the music has shifted my life and guided the direction of my design practice. My way of thinking and of perceiving the world, such as sound and silence, are so different from people around me. So, my interest was in the question of enquiry, “how can I represent the energy of sound and silence in textiles?” There are three tile designs in this collection that convey the familial narrative of my cultural and personal identity, built through the movement of brushstrokes.
Exist (Cun Zai)
This design wraps the tiles with the celestial darkness. Symbolising the energy of silence the black balances with the colour white, the energy of sound. Like a yin-yang, the symbol of balance I signify this equilibrium as the spirit of life, my existence, or 'Cun Zai' meaning to exist. The colours black and white are used to represent the energy of sound and silence, and of living between two worlds. The void between two worlds, is my third space balances both worlds; to maintain my existence.
Endure (Ren Shou)
In this tile design the colour red is incorporated. Red brings good luck in Chinese culture. I often received good fortune in a red envelope from my Nai Nai on Chinese New Year. A red envelope with money inside given as a gift is considered good luck. During Chinese New Year, I often experienced a feeling of being left out while surrounded by my family, a reminder that I am the only one in my family who is deaf. We live in the same but different worlds, which makes it difficult for us to fully understand each other. The colour red reminds me of 'Ren Shou' meaning to endure. In the balance of sound and silence, the colours of red and black, I could not do anything except endure this time, not for myself, but for my family.
Fate (Ming Yun)
This design leaves the blank canvas as space, only to be filled with the fragments of blue colour. 'Ming Yun' means fate in Chinese characters, symbolising the turn of events in life. The colours blue and white reminds me of home as blue relates to the discovery of my deafness. According to my Nai Nai, her daily routine of drinking tea everyday was a spiritual enjoyment. The story begins when she dropped her teacup, it shattered on the ground and I as a baby did not respond. That is when she found out that I could no longer hear. That day she named me 'Ming Yun' meaning a woman who is in charge of creating her own fate. As my Nai Nai always told me the story of the broken teacup, ending it with her words; "my broken teacup becomes from spiritual enjoyment to spiritual enlightenment." It is simple and faded, but the traces of the shattered, and splattered movement in the colour of blue reminds me of my Nai Nai's broken porcelain china teacup.