Having been a ceramics artist for many years, I consistently and regularly made pairs of chubby male and female figurines. Time and time again, I tried adding more heft to them, only to find them too clumsy-looking. Then I tried to slim them down, but found them too thin. Ultimately, they are still a long way away from my ideal of portly, down-to-earth simple folk; hence my constant efforts to perfect their form. The process of finding the ‘ideal’ balance in my figures has been endlessly fascinating and has given me infinite joy. As Confucius said, ‘Is it not happiness to study and to practise what you have learnt?’
From August to November 2016, I went to Shigaraki (one of the six ancient kilns of Japan) to participate in their Artist-in-Residence Programme at the Shigaraki Cultural Ceramics Park. There was so much for me to learn every day in the company of distinguished ceramicists from Japan, and all over the world. It was an eye-opening experience. Life at Shigaraki was simple, peaceful, disciplined, and steady. The three months passed quickly, and eventually it was time for me to leave. Apart from my newfound friends and lifestyle, what I found hard to say goodbye to was the unpredictability that came with wood firing, which brought me back to the unsettled emotions after each firing that I used to feel when I first started working with clay — the experience of happiness ‘in the making!’
Many of the pieces in this exhibition are from my Shigaraki trip, and although it has been over a year, the happiness that I experienced there is still with me. It is said that everyone has their own ‘Shangri-La’ — I am so fortunate to have found mine.
Rosanna Li Wei Han