Visit with Diana Williams and Master Liu Yuan Chang
On Wednesday, May 8th, my friends and I met with Diana Williams, an Australian sculptor living a few months of the year in Jingdezhen. She kindly brought us to see her studio, which is located in part of the Jingdezhen Sculpture Factory. Diana had been invited in 2005 by one of the great sculpting masters Professor Liu Yuan Chang. He was the original director of the Factory. Now, part of her time she works on projects for him.
The Factory is an 11 hectare complex that was established in 1956. The Pottery Workshop, where I am currently a resident, is also part of the Sculpture Factory complex.
One walks through the old Ming Dynasty gates and enters a green and untended inner garden.
Diana's studio looks out onto this garden and the space is quiet with beautiful light.
Diana explained to us that she began making ceramic sculpture in 2005 when her son enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy. She writes excellently about her art on her website, http://www.porcelainartist.com.au, She began to make pieces using the artillery shell form to express her objection to war. She is beginning a third series in this exploration and her earlier work is now exhibited globally. We discussed how fabricating ceramics in Jingdezhen enables her art to realize her sculpture.
Diana is painting overglaze on some of the Master Liu Yuan Chang selected sculptures and working on her own artworks.
We were next taken to the Master Liu Yuan Chang's Gallery on the other side of the garden. This courtyard is the entry to his large building.
This photo shows a minute fraction of his output. There were several rooms of sculptures, some very modern and some with classical Chinese mythology as subject matter. One could say that the Chinese have been early conceptual artists. Making a piece from start to finish by one sculptor is not a necessary goal. Rather, the idea suffices to express the artist's intent and the designs can be entrusted to a team of craftspeople for completion.
These are the shelves where Master Liu Yuan Chang's press molds for his sculptures are stored.
On the other side of the room, forms are being molded for later assembly.
The pieces are then taken to this room for glazing.
The center of porcelain clay manufacture is found down an adjacent street. First, there is a storage building for the mined clay.
Across the street from the raw material, a building combines the clay with water in large vats. The clay is put through vast pugging machines, which grinds and kneads the clay with water into a plastic consistency. The pugged clay is then put into large plastic bags, ready to be used.
Wagons move the clay throughout the city.
A door situated next to the clay production.
We then left the clay production area and Diana brought us to a second gallery of Master Liu Yuan Chang's work. We met Master Liu Yuan Chang, his daughter Danyun Liu,who runs the gallery and his son, Liu Dan Hua, who is also a sculptor.
Danya Liu is making installation work, a contemporary interpretation of the long porcelain tradition in Jingdezhen.