Last supper, 2020, Alice Hui, stoneware, woodfire.

Photo courtesy of the artist

Que sera sera, about Alice Hui and her wood firing works

(written by Jenny Wong, April 2021, Shenyang, China)

Alice's works speak of relinquishment and submission - to the materiality of clay, and the processes and the language of ceramics.

In all her works, the forms retain clear imprints of the maker's hands in the throwing process.  Yet the final forms are the results of allowing the still impressionable and malleable greenware to distort when being detached from the throwing bat, and slump with the force of gravity when the bowls and cylinders were placed off-centred on their rims.

The fluidity of the thrown forms reflects the accumulation of years of immersive practice  Disciplined controlled, and solitary hours by the throwing wheel.  The choice to give permission to the distortion and slumping of the otherwise perfect forms speaks of the realisation that at the end, with the best of effort: "what will be, will be".

Her persistence, and insistence, on wood firing as a climax to the making process is also part and parcel of her narrative.  For novices in the practice of wood-firing, the interplay of the elements of nature inside and outside of the kiln is mystical.  The intensity of conditions in the kiln and the rhythm of feeding the fire is captivating.  Veterans, through years of partnership with their kilns, decode the mysticism and gain control over the physical and chemical reactions in the firing process.  However well one understands a kiln and despite best efforts in controlling what can be controlled each firing still turn out surprises.

Que sera, sera.  What will be, will be.

Alice is very clear in the stories she wants to tell, reflected in the naming of her works.  One could find much symbolism and metaphor embedded in the composition and arrangement of her "Last Supper series.

Even so, Alice shies away from speaking about her work - perhaps it is out of respect to viewers.  Rather than prescribing how one should perceive her works, she gives room for viewers to interpret at their own time.  Perhaps she is aware of the limitation in verbal communicate as a tool to convey interconnected thoughts and webs of emotion.  Perhaps, even for herself, the works take on different meanings at different times.

Whether one has background in Judeo-Christian stories, or indeed know of Alices' own life adventures, her work still moves and resonates through her meditation no the fundamentals and quest for inner peace.  

Photos of Alice Hui's studio, Dec 2020

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