Immortal Flowers

仙・花

As a ceramic artist, I seldom choose “function” as a theme for work. But with the exhibition Cup & Saucer, I took the opportunity to explore how “art” and “function” may coexist together. Historically in society, it had been difficult to separate “art” from “function.” But as time progresses, the two now seem to be worlds apart. Is it really true that “art” and “function” cannot come together? 

 

The first time I saw the Twelve Cups with Flowers of the Months was at the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware in Hong Kong. The quiet yet elegant manner with which flowers were painted on the cups captured much of my attention. This set of Guan Kiln ceramics—with a style that originated from the Qing Dynasty’s Kangxi period—encompasses several art forms including: poetry, calligraphy and painting. Each cup has a designated flower of the lunar month, along with accompanying poetry, painted on it. 

 

Among the most challenging part was to produce the separate pieces in a very repetitive and mechanical style. But by gradually improving, I once again observe that “practice can make perfect.” Even though on the surface it seems that both subject matter and the manner I had to work in has been restrictive, there was still much room for creativity. Perhaps this is the freedom that studio potters enjoy, unlike the assembly line style of arts and crafts production. The process has not been easy, but after months of putting the minds of fellow artists together and much problem solving, I gained much clarity for the direction of my work and enjoyed the process tremendously.

做陶以來,我一直也較少以實用性器物為創作主題,藉《盛・托》一展覽,好讓我重新思考「實用」與「藝術」相互間的可能。過往,「工」和「藝」密不可分,藝術不能脫離實用之考慮。可是隨著社會發展,「藝術」與「實用」相距越遠,可是兩者真不能互融嗎? 

一次,當我到香港茶具文物館,觀賞到《十二花神杯》(原名「十二月令花神杯」)並深深被吸引著,杯上各花木圖像精緻,花木色澤淡雅。這套杯是一套繪花題詩白瓷杯子,源於清康熙時代。每隻杯上繪有代表農曆十二月份的各月令花木,還書寫了與之相關的題詩

,是詩書畫一體的官窯瓷藝術品。這種詩、書、畫、篆刻等融于一體的製品,文人氣很重,主要是深受明末崇禎時期流行的題詩繪畫瓷製品影響所致。

在整個資料搜集與澄清的過程中,我得悉「花神」意指花卉是很後期的事。有趣的是,恰巧「花神」的歧義令我有另一層的想像,從而帶引我發展一個意念:創作一套有關「花神(仙)與花」的杯與托器物。

清《十二花神杯》中,是只有茶杯,沒有茶托的,而作品大概亦為表現「五彩」花卉姿態的手繪工藝為主,或說是以杯作為畫布,在杯上繪畫題字。觀賞性之考慮較高,實用性的考慮可說是較次要。

「花神(仙)與花」跟「茶杯與托」,彼此的關係密切,茶托盛載著茶杯,正如花承載著花神傳說及其意涵,我嘗試以這元素發展作品。

簡而言之,我在是次作品只是採用了《十二花神杯》作模仿物及出發點進行再演繹,在形體及色彩上加以控制及配合本人的意念。