Making Waves | Q&A with UUendy Lau

Making Waves | Q&A with UUendy Lau

Currently artist in residence at Ignite Studios at the Northern Rivers Community Gallery in Ballina, artist UUendy Lau has used the opportunity to re-experience and re-connect with one of the most beautiful and inspiring natural phenomena – waves. Born and raised in the coastal city of Hong Kong, UUendy is fascinated by the coexistence of humans and water, which appears to be an endless subject to be continuously reviewed and appreciated.

We sit down with UUendy to discuss her practice, her love of the ocean, her first time in Australia and what’s next for the artist.

Tell us about yourself:
I was born and raised in Hong Kong. It is a crowded city that always keeps us busy – people are often occupied by work, studies or simply everything. I didn’t have much thoughts about exploring other parts of the world before because there is always so much going on in Hong Kong, until some years ago when I received an grant that brought me to Belgium to develop my first overseas design exhibition. I then went to London for a year to do my Masters, and I have witnessed the huge differences in culture, mentality and lifestyle between Hong Kong and other cities. The experience of staying aboard and getting to know about different cultures has strongly inspired my art and encouraged me to take on more ambitious and meaningful projects. Right now I am at the stages of reviewing the core value and impact of my practice.

Tell us about your practice:
I am a multidisciplinary designer/artist with a strong passion for experimental art and critical designs. I am interested in stimulating discourses and conversations through (fashion) objects, illustration and participatory creations and installation artworks. One of the main themes of my projects centres on ‘animals and nature’, a universal subject permeating all cultures, languages and lifestyles. Besides practising as an artist, I have also been working as a Design Manager supervising product development, manufacturing and commercialisation of design projects, as well as curating exhibitions and activities for galleries and design programmes.

You are in the region for a residency at Ignite Studios at the Northern Rivers Community Gallery – What was your interest in a residency in Ballina?
I have never been to Australia before and I always wanted to go to Melbourne because of its art scene and the design culture. But I can imagine Melbourne would be another big city similar to Hong Kong or London where you can find everything but not much of a genuine experience of local culture. So I wanted to stay in a city which is less touristy and less international where I can meet more local Australians and get to know more about their lifestyle and philosophy. I happened to come across the residency on the Internet and I just gave it a try! I was also curious to check out how the art environment grows in a remote city. I am glad that the calmness and peaceful atmosphere in this neighbourhood has given me moments to slow down and think more.

Can you share with us what you’ve been working on / made during you time here?
Even though I grew up in a coastal city, I share a different view on what I saw and experienced in another town by the water, Ballina. Temporarily residing in an unfamiliar district, I took the opportunity to re-experience and re-connect one of the most beautiful and inspiring natural phenomena – waves. During my residency, I have facilitated three collaborative workshops with local residents to re-examine our relationship with waves and the water environment. In the first workshop, we did collage with visual images that I, as a tourist, collected on the first few days upon my arrival in Ballina. Then, I instructed the participants to create unique wave patterns inspired by the surfing culture in Ballina with illustration. The last hands-on activity got to explore the behaviour and characteristics of whales by making miniature whale flukes using clay.

My residency will be completed with a pop-up exhibition of an installation at the Engine Room of Ignite Studios. It will be co-constructed by all the art deliverables from the workshops and also my own art-pieces developed during my stay. At the end of the show, part of the exhibits will be dismantled and restyled into giveaway souvenirs as a present for the local residents. I hope the exhibition captures a collective of new perspectives from the community to “re-experience the waves” in Ballina.

If local artists are interested in a residency in Hong Kong –  have any tips?
Artist residency is not very popular in Hong Kong, probably because of the shortage of land. Recently I notice an interesting residency which is located on a small island not too far away from the central area of Hong Kong and it is called “Wit Tung Sat”. I think it would be a lovely experience to stay on an island where you can find a warm and more connected community in Hong Kong. Also, there are more museums and contemporary art galleries opening in Hong Kong in recent years. One tip to stay in Hong Kong – be prepared to catch the speed of life and happenings in Hong Kong and try not to be overwhelmed, and then just enjoy!

What’s next?
I have done several residencies over the last year and I will take a pause after this and allow myself to have some time to reflect deeply on what I have learned and experienced in different cities, and how they can make positive growth not only for my career but also the betterment of myself. I will stay in Hong Kong and continue to get involved in a few design programmes and to facilitate the design events. For short-term goal within five years, I would like to put my focus more on academic research in participatory art and to get it published, not necessarily in the form of academic paper or publications but it could be other creative mediums.

Find UUendy online:
Website: Instagram: @uuendylau Vimeo: UUendy Lau Find UUendy’s TED X talk here

Re-Experiencing Waves | UUendy Lau | Ignite Studios Engine Room | Northern Rivers Community Gallery | Date: 28-30 Sept (Friday – Sunday) | Time: 10.00am – 3.00pm

Find out more about the Ignite Studio Residency Program > > > Here