Negative and Positive_year 1

Although the negative and positive project was set in the first term, still I have not found the right concept which can fit in the meaning. I had experiment the ideas of wet and dry and 2D and 3D both were not quite convincing.

After I listened again to one of the lectures from the Blackboard, Prof. Clive Cazeaux’s “Do I have ideas or do ideas have me?”, in which Prof. Cazeaux mentioned a comic called “Numskull”. The comic is about a team of tiny human-like technicians who lives inside the heads of various people, running and maintaining their bodies and minds. It immediately aroused my interest. I remember when I was a child, I always had a strange feeling that there was another person that existed inside of me. Her voice was the same as mine and she did all the thinking. I would do whatever she told me to. Of course, we all know that this is our brains in operation.

Our thinking and all the basic senses of humans, for instance, anxiety, anger, happiness, desire are phenomenal and abstract. They are intangible and cannot be seen. We receive signals from the external world like lights, colours, smells, sounds which stimulate our thinking. Our brain reconstructs what we perceive, based on our past memories and experiences, illusion emerge and ideas and thoughts are generated. Our physical body acts as the medium through which what we have sensed can become something we can see, hear and touch. We speak, sing, create and our facial expression, from something invisible to visible.

Continuing my research of the ideas of negative and positive, I found an artist called Kate Blacklock, an American painter, sculptor and photographer. Most of her ceramics work is made up of porcelain busts. The porcelain busts’ surfaces act as film screens on which images are painted such as flowers, hands and multiple faces. Although her work is an exploration of themes of beauty, ageing and mortality, as stated in her website, it gives me a sense of surreal dreams, mystery, loneliness and alternation between the reality and dreams.

kate blacklock kate blacklock_1

Our brains are not only operating consciously but also unconsciously, which is our dreams. According to Sigmund Freud theory, we are living in a moral civilized society and every individual has to hold back or restrain certain urges, impulses and desires. These tendencies are suppressed unconsciously. However, such suppression must be released in some way. The only way to release it is through our dreams. In Freud’s theory dreams are provoked by the daily occurrences which are a reflection of our own characters, our true-self the id.

Does it mean that dreaming is a kind of decoding of our inner self? This is very interesting, there is a Chinese proverb that is still said, “one dreams at night, what one thinks in the day”.

Have you ever asked yourself, “how many selves do you have?” People characters keep changing based on surrounding environments. We have different roles in our society, a father or mother in a family, an employer or employee in a company, a son or daughter of your parents or a loving husband or wife. We are expected to fulfil a role in different situation. Each of these roles has a duty, expectation and behaviour that we have to face and fulfil. Most of us, most of the time, follow to the guidelines provided by the roles we perform.

Which one is your true-self ? The true-self may have already been repressed. No matter how many roles you would have, there is only one that can be seen by the outside world.

My idea of the “Negative and Positive” project is the relationship between every individual to the external and internal self. The internal self lives quietly inside of us in response to the external world, while the external self is the one has connection to the outside world to express our internal self.



First we started with sketching and then I carefully divided the face into sections. A vertical line down the middle of the face then drew two horizontal lines equally divided the face into three sections. The middle section is where the eyes and nose will be. The last section is where the opening of the mouth will be.

I used about half a pack of modelling clay. Placed it onto a wooden board, following the sketching carefully divided the face into sections then cut away some excess clay roughly giving definition of the face.


Then make the eye-sockets, which should be right under the first horizon line. This will allow you to bring in the bridge of the nose as well.


To form the nose, I rolled a cone shape of clay then pressed it into the right position between the eye sockets. Then added small pieces of clay to the sides and tip of the nose. At this stage I cut away more excess clay, the face begins to take shape. I then used my eyes to judge where the month should be opened. I kept checking the profile of the whole face before adding in more details.





In the tutorial with Claire Curneen a Russian artist, Sergei Isupov, was introduced. His work seems like contained a hidden message or meaning and so dreamlike. It makes you keep staring at it.  The painting on the ceramics surface is very realistic and caused unrest. It is difficult to distinguish whether it is a flattened imagery or a three-dimensional form. Both Kate Blacklock and Sergei Isupov use ceramics surfaces as a canvas to create a very realistic painting which are appealing.

“Victorious” Sergei Isupov, stoneware, stain, glaze 26″x 24″x 15″




Making mould for slip casting. As my face sculpture has not been fired. To prevent the clay sticking to the plaster, I slightly dusted  talc powder on its surface.






Raku glaze test. The metallic, lustre and cloud-like effect gives a sense mystery.


As my idea needs something to connect to the outside world. Inspired by a Hong Kong artist Johnson Tsang,  I experiment to hand build these water splashes, also I have made some water puddles and dripping water by using casting slip, which will be used as a medium to connect the external world and our respond to it. As the dripping is so fragile, it was broken during the firing.




Johnson Tsang “Splash of Wonder”


Johnson Tsang  “Storm in My Bowl”

tsang-8storm in my bowl

Experimenting paint on a ceramics surface. I mixed in colour stain with water and played around with different colours using a fine-tip brush. Unlike other pigments, it is difficult to control as the powdery substance has no consistency. Unfortunately,  the time is running tight I believe I do not have time to continue the painting experiment.








Since the “Positive and Negative” project was given, I experimented with a couple of ideas that I was not quite satisfied. Then the Field project started which totally occupied my time, preventing me from continuing my work on the Positive and Negative project. However, I appreciated all the experience I got in the Field project which has been a great help in my subsequent work.

The ‘Positive and Negative’ idea was generated from the comprehensive experience of the Field and Constellation. The Field project helped me practically to develop skill in analysing information and expanding research spectrum. In the Constellation I was introduced to the extensive art world which broadened my knowledge in different aspects, enlightened new thinking and preliminarily acquainted me with art appreciation. My individual thoughts have been changed through these experiences.

Based on these previous experiences, I restarted searching for new ideas on my Positive and Negative project, from finding ideas to how to develop them, doing research, experiment glazes, trying techniques that I had not tried before, arranging my work schedule carefully as the experience in the Field project brought me a lot of stress. I handled it much more smoothly this time. Although the deadline of the assessment was getting closer and closer, it also brought people closer as well no matter whether they were the second year or the first year students. I really enjoy the positive energy and high spirit at the workshop.

I have enjoyed every process I have gone through. It has seemed like climbing a mountain, requiring great skill, determination, guts and the right tools in order to reach the peak. In our situation, as artists and designers, good skills help to execute our ideas efficiency. Determination has been needed to overcome problems along the way. Don’t be scared of expressing yourself, try something new even if you do not know how, for example this is the first time I sculpted a face and the water splashes, and of course the right tools are important too.

Although people keep saying destination is not always about reaching the peak, that the journey is the most important aspect, I really want to see the result after all this hard work and whether is it going to work or not. Through the first years experience, skills are the only thing I did not improve much. The modules are more focused on developing concepts and ideas. This makes me confused sometimes, as my subject is ceramics, but I feel like I am studying something outside the subject. I regret working so hard to develop an idea that we cannot deliver properly. Skills should not be ignored, especially for a future ceramist or a sculptor. I think both concepts and skills should be equally important. In my experience, through the making process it helps to generate ideas as well. Every gesture through the making and the way that materials change will trigger new ideas. Experiments using materials such as glazes, firing and different clay bodies is a very important research to a ceramist.

Generally, I really appreciated the whole journey I have been through and I have certainly changed within this journey. I have a stronger awareness of myself and a clearer perspective of my future direction.