As an artist and photographer I look back fondly to when I was selected for Top Arts 2001. It was an important step for my very early career and came as reassurance to my creative endeavors and dreams to pursue a life as an artist.
The work that was selected had been a series of wearable garments, inspired by contemporary Asian fashion, found objects and sculpture. The three garments titled Mind, Body and Spirit, were thematically concerned with Chinese cultural traditions, rituals and my own mixed Chinese Australian background. Textiles and fashion were my specialty at the time, and even though the works could be walked down the catwalk, they were intended to be seen as art, hung in a gallery space.
I remember seeing them for the first time in the NGV Russell St exhibition space hung simply in a line and spot lit against a white background. It was a wonderful moment, a combination of delight and excitement, feelings of awe and relief as well as a sense of being quite honored. Also to see my work alongside others from the state was an interesting and educative experience. The exhibition as a whole provided a context for my artwork and thoughts within a specific cultural moment within a community of young artists.
I was also involved in a range of artist talks and was included in a program involving four other Top Arts artists for a new interactive education website launched for the year. It was great to see more behind the scenes activity from within the NGV education and public program areas.
Since moving on from school, I completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts at the University of Melbourne where I continued my work in textiles and then extended this into installation. After university I worked in arts communications, which gave me a large range of practical skills and experience in arts management, publicity, marketing and communications that I find useful to have as an artist today.
Through my art practice I aim to investigate issues about cultural difference, diaspora and identity, through photography and installation. I have exhibited widely in Australia as well as in the USA and Japan. My photographs are collected in public and private collections, and have been finalists in Australian and international photography competitions. Alongside my art practice I have a commercial photography practice specialising in performance and portrait photography of artists and key arts organisations in Australia. Currently I am a Masters of Fine Art Research candidate at RMIT, and I have an upcoming show In a dim light… in October 2014 at Edmund Pearce Gallery in Melbourne.
My connection with the NGV has continued since Top Arts 2001. I have participated in a range of public programs and education seminars, but the most rewarding experience was to have a series of photographs Who’s the Chinese lady that picks you up from school? (2009) acquired for the NGV Collection, and having two of these works so quickly exhibited a few months after being acquired in the Love, Loss and Intimacy exhibition in 2010. Coming back to present some talks for StArt Up: Top Arts 2014 has been a wonderful opportunity for me to share my experiences and talk to other Top Arts alumni about what they are doing now.