Xiaohui Yang | Tales from her studio

Xiaohui Yang | Tales from her studio

Xiaohui Yang is a Chinese artist whose intriguing jewellery and ceramic works examine social-cultural issues and explore human interaction and relationships. Inspired by the cultural differences between how people react and engage with each other, Yang’s works draw on the connection between jewellery and the wearer as a tool to measure and examine the space between different body parts. Featuring in our latest exhibition, Yang + Shaw: tales from the studio, Yang’s work is both conceptually and aesthetically thoughtful.

Yang recently completed her Master’s degree while on exchange at the Queensland College of Art, where she worked closely with established jeweller and lecturer, Elizabeth Shaw. Yang + Shaw: tales from the studio, brings together Yang and Shaw’s work to explore the similarities and differences between how the two artists react and respond to their differing cultural environments.

We recently caught up with Xiaohui about her work and the importance and impact of cultural exchanges her creative practices.


 

Do you see jewellery as something that can influence our behaviour and relationships?

Jewellery is a link between body and soul. I feel jewellery is the most effective medium to express the relationship between our behaviour and consciousness, because it directly connects with human body and individual background. Meanwhile, the different ways in which we wear jewellery impacts on its meaning; therefore, I see jewellery as something that can directly reflect and influence our behaviour and relationships that other mediums cannot.

 

Xiaohui Yang, Relationship Measurement Ⅱ, 2015. Silver and paper. Photo by Lisa Brown

Xiaohui Yang, Relationship Measurement Ⅱ, 2015. Silver and paper. Photo by Lisa Brown.

 

Your ceramic works featured in Yang + Shaw: tales from the studio blur the line between jewellery and sculpture. Is this a particular goal of yours and if so why?

Yes, blurring the line between jewellery and sculpture is a particular goal of mine. This is because I see jewellery as ‘sculpture’ on the human body. Both jewellery and sculpture are able to create a variety of forms and use different materials to express the poetic strategy of visually overlapping ‘old’ and ‘new’ cultural traditions.

 

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Xiaohui Yang, Fist-and-palm salute II, ceramics, 2010. Photographer: Wang Bing.

 

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Xiaohui Yang, Fist-and-palm salute II, ceramics, 2010. Photographer: Wang Bing.

 

Are there any other insights into Chinese culture that you could share with us that might inform our understanding of your work?

My research investigates the concept of ‘cultural collision’ between traditional Chinese and Western customs and its impact upon contemporary Chinese festivals and etiquette. That is, I am particularly interested in the ‘problems’ and the ‘uneasiness’ of two cultures being interwoven within a culturally specific ritual. This position, where cultures collide rather than hybridise, offers a valuable contribution in discussing cultural exchange, in which one culture has to ‘give up’. This ‘giving up’ process is made explicit through a historical overview of the ‘modernisation’ of Chinese customs from the Xin Hai Revolution (1911) to contemporary China.

 

Xiaohui Yang, The Distance Between Us, 2012. Silver and paper. Photo by Bing Wang

Xiaohui Yang, The distance between us, 2012. Silver and paper. Photo by Bing Wang.

 

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Xiaohui Yang, The distance between us I, 2012. Silver and paper. Courtesy of the artist.

 

You spent a lot of time working with Elizabeth Shaw while completing your Master’s degree on exchange at the Queensland College of Art (QCA). What benefits do you think we can gain from cultural exchanges? What challenges did you face?

There are many benefits we can gain from cultural exchanges. People can learn about different cultural and history, from which they can open their horizon, and people are able to experience and understand different lifestyles from cultural exchanges. It also helps artists to think creatively, the reason being is that artists have the opportunity to get first-hand experience which is extremely important, especially for people who study jewellery, because it enables you to experience and gain skills you cannot get from books.

Even though I passed the English test and had gotten my Master’s degree, the biggest challenge I have faced is language, because I struggle to express myself accurately or promptly.

Liz and Xiaohui in China 2

Xiaohui and Elizabeth Shaw in China. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Shaw.

 

Liz and Xiaohui in China (Xiaohui is demonstrating one of her ceramic hand gesture pieces here)

Xiaohui and Elizabeth Shaw in China. Xiaohui is demonstrating one of her ceramic hand gesture pieces here. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Shaw.

 

See Yang’s work in Yang + Shaw: tales from the studio at artisan until 20 February. Or learn more about Yang’s work in the Yang 杨 + Shaw 肖 | Tales from the Studio catalogue, which you can download here.

 

Feature image: Xiaohui Yang, Seek Curiosity, 2013. Silver and chrysophoron. Photo by Bing Wang


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