Rediscovering Industries

Giant Year Gallery was established in 2012 by Solan Chiu, focusing on the promotion of local contemporary ceramic art and provides a platform for showcasing the works of emerging artists. The gallery is exhibiting at Start Art Fair 2017, in London. William Tsang explains the concept behind the gallery and the importance of new perspectives on the material.

A: Giant Year Gallery was established in 2012 by Solan Chiu, focusing on the promotion of local contemporary ceramic art and provides a platform for showcasing the works of emerging artists. It is the only gallery in Hong Kong doing this in particular. Why do you think ceramic arts are so important in the 21st century art world? How do they bring together tradition and innovation?
WT: Giant Year Gallery, set up in 2012 by Hong Kong-based ceramic artist Solan Chiu, is the only gallery in the city focusing on contemporary ceramic art. To many people, ceramic means everyday housewares, since it has been one of the main materials in different countries or cultures for so many since.

At the same time, ceramic art is also thought as a representation of traditional Chinese art culture Therefore, many people treat ceramic as very traditional handicraft, although there are so many good artists around the world have been doing a lot to create contemporary works with the use of ceramic. The gallery wants to give the public a new art experience by breaking the thought that ceramics are only handicrafts, hoping that the contemporary pieces can provide a dynamic survey of diverse and innovative practices in Hong Kong and other Asian regions.

A: Do you think that artists are increasingly moving back towards craft-based practices, and if so, why do you think that is?
WT: Ceramics never just means “dish” and “bowl” – the objects that we use in daily lives, although so many people still think so. In fact, many contemporary artists from different backgrounds are using ceramic to create sculpture or installation works, making use of the material to represent themselves or express their feelings or opinions towards the real world. However, it does not mean that the artists do not care about craftsmanship. Many practitioners around the world are also using innovative methods to create highly crafted dishes, plates, vases and other houseware items. It should be highlighted or reminded that ceramic is more than material, craft, technique, equipment, and many “external” things. The gallery wants to help people to re-discover that ceramic, one so-called traditional craftsmanship, should be treated the same as other contemporary art forms, such as painting.

A: What are some of the key works / artists that will be exhibiting at Start Art Fair 2017?
WT: In Start art fair 2017, the gallery will showcase the works from three Hong Kong contemporary ceramic artists: Chris Lo Sze-Lim, Ray Chan See-Kwong and Rachel Cheung Wai-Size.

A: What themes do your artists cover, and how do they compare / differ from each other?
WT: The three artists are showcasing what is happening in Hong Kong’s ceramic art world. Chris Lo, born in the 60s, explores both personal and public memories. His works are more than a kind of dialogue between the artist and his experiences, but also between us and the vanished aspects of society. To Ray Chan, the works create a source of inspiration through simple forms, so you will find the pieces tend to look at the everyday, but he actually intends to use an exploratory approach to push materials to the extremes and challenge our preconception of the use of ceramic in art making. Rachel Cheung hopes that viewers can sense the tension, the harmony, the contrast, the similarity and the differences in her pieces, which are open to numerous possibilities.

A: What is the importance of attending art fairs like START, and how do you think they contribute wider dialogues within the industry?
WT: With the showcase of outstanding works from three artists from Hong Kong, we want the international audience to have the opportunity to understand what contemporary visionaries are doing today. We are hoping that by joining international art fairs, including Start art fair at London and Berliner Liste at Berlin this September, these pieces can attract attention and allow people to think more about what the value of ceramics is in the contemporary art world. This also includes rethinking what ceramics can express, and how they look to the future of design.

START Art Fair runs at Saatchi Gallery, London, 14-17 September. Find out more:

1.  Rachel Wai Size Cheung, Linkage, 2004. Porcelain, sewing thread, 40 x 40 x 16 cm.