Tell us a bit about yourself and your practice?
I am Ivy T.C. Chan, a multidisciplinary artist from Hong Kong. I was trained in London at Chelsea College of Art, and graduated with a BA Fine Art First Class Honours in 2016. My work uses space and systems, as a means to perceive the body and to contemplate on existential philosophies. The making process I go through is often meticulously planned and painstakingly repetitive, which allows me to form a strong bond with the objects I make and the materials I use. My work includes paper cutting, relief, photography, performance, print, and writing.
You lived in London for a number of years and are now back in Hong Kong. How does your experience with fine art practice, exhibition and commissioning differ between these two countries?
I was very fortunate to have studied as an art student in London for 4 years. After returning to Hong Kong, one of the challenges I face is with finding space to make and display work. Hong Kong is a very commercial and realistic society, with deep influences from Chinese art. I feel like art in Hong Kong is to some extent restricted physically and conceptually, by both the limitations of space and also what social values impose on our culture. I hope the growing interest from the government to work with local artists and expansion of the existing art institutions will provide more opportunities and resources to the cultural industry, and integrate Art into our everyday experience.
While at Chelsea College of Arts and now in the years following, you have been incredibly successful with bespoke commissions. How do you approach creating an artwork for a specific space, company, institution, etc.?
I must thank the many institutions who collaborated with Chelsea students and gave emerging artists the opportunity to work professionally on commission projects. Those valuable experiences taught me that whenever working on a new project, it is important to maintain an open mind and establish as much clarity as possible with the client. I often start off by identifying the potential spaces for the work I have in mind, then come up with multiple options to visualise it in situ. While taking into consideration of the spatial environment and paying attention to aesthetic features of the commission site, I also like to draw inspirations from the geometric structures of a space, and embed those connections subtly into the work. I enjoy doing commissions knowing that the work will be displayed for a considerable amount time and have the opportunity to be seen by an audience otherwise not possible.
For a commission we did together a couple years ago, you ran a workshop with the staff, photographing them in various poses. Can you tell me a bit about this and why you think it was so successful?
It was the commission we did in 2016 with the Open Society Foundations, for the paper cutting series ‘What is up, what is down, when the world is round?’. The concept was to compose silhouettes of my body into a Mandala paper cutting college. As an extension of the idea, I proposed to use the silhouettes of the staff members in the office to compose one of the four pieces. In order to do so, I ran photographic workshops in their office with their staff volunteers. By inviting the staff to be part of the artwork, the commission became a collaborative project. It reflected the people who worked there and gave them a sense of ownership and belonging to the work. I think it was successful because the artwork related to the people and was a product of our joint effort to make something truly unique.
If you could place your work anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I would like to continue exhibiting work in indoor offices and shared public spaces. I want my work to become part of a place and serve to enhance the architectural structures it is inhabited in.