Dee and I met in a collaboration project. Dee said that the theme of her writing was grief after losing her brother. I deeply sympathized with her pain and grief because I lost my best friend in December last year and suffered the pain of losing a loved one. We discussed how we could overcome the pain of loss through creative activities.
This is the message I sent Dee; “Hi, I am glad to meet you. What I was interested in is the way to overcome our grief in our ways. As I mentioned, on 18th December last year, I lost my best friend who I have known for more than 17 years. I felt like someone made a big hall in my life, and the worst part was I could not attend her funeral.
I could not be with her last moment. So, I wanted to mourn my friend through a piece I make. To express my love, I want to make a vessel with coiling, one of the ceramic techniques. I stack each coil and then pinch a surface with my hands. Hand marks are like a trace of our life. Also, I am practicing making a piece as thin as possible. The bigger effort I put into a piece, the thinner the thickness is. Though I explain my thoughts too much, what I want to say is I am overcoming my grief with my practice. Dee, you are overcoming with your beautiful piece of writing.”
Dee responded to my message; “Our work around this sounds fascinating - I'd love to see more of it. "Hand marks are like a trace of our life" is just so beautiful, and you're right. Your long message is really appreciated. I'm so sorry you lost your friend, and were unable to attend the funeral. In the UK, the funeral is such an important part of the grieving process - although I think our culture dictates that it is an event for closure and moving on, whereas in reality for the bereaved that is more like the beginning of the process and we can feel quite alone afterwards. I'd love to hear more about both of your work. When mine is developed a little more I'd be happy to share it with you!”
What I could do to overcome my grief was practice coiling in my room with a small amount of clay. I wanted to make an exquisite and delicate ceramic piece for my friend, so I dedicated myself to practicing coiling. I mentioned, "Hand marks are like a trace of our life." Dee responded to the sentence in poetry.
by Dee Montague
Coils stacked togetherm, like lines in cut trees
telling tales of platonic love and history.
Coils making patterns like lines on my hand,
sensitive to touch as the clay reads my palm.
Each pinch tests the strength of the structure,
increasing the risk of imploading fracture.
Blood, sweat, and tears become porcelain coils
of purpose and pureness, drowining out noise.
Shdows of grief cicle the towers,
soon to be filled with death's white flowers.
Lines are not written into hands without reason
the life line was cut in the darkest season.
Hand marks remain as a trace of our life
their imprints will soften as time declines.
"Lines are not written into the human hand without reason."
“hand marks remain as a trace of our life”
– Yusun Won
“All agree that collaboration is likely to produce something that could not have been achieved alone. But if collaboration is to do, to make and to discover something that cannot be achieved alone, then this only happens, by shifting expectations about what craft is, what it does, where and why it belongs in our lives. The impact of these collaborations can affect the inner world of thought, dialogue and identity, and the outer material world to ‘alter the very environment’.”
- Felcey, Ravetz and Kettle, 2013
I worked with a violinist Bethan Frieze. Bethan responded to my work with a selection of themes; melodies, leitmotif, and ostinato. These can be played continuously or with small spaces in between as follows. Bethan shows her immediate feeling when she saw ceramic pieces for the first time. The musical response would be with a series of harmonics - pure, clear, and high-pitched sounds, which is to reflect the almost piercing purity of the work. The tone of the response is cool and clean. The second part is repetition- rhythmic patterns, imperceptibly changing so that the metamorphosis is hardly noticeable. The composer Michael Nyman uses this technique. With a pastoral and melodic feel, Bethan wants to explore changes in tonal colour rather than rhythm - warm and soft, hard, clean, smooth, etc. Besides, Bethan would like to explore the idea of the emptiness inside vessels, using echo sounds achieved by her voice or violin. Furthermore, Bethan thinks about changing the space when something is added- Pouring water, covering and muting, and using the idea of ripple effect and coils- The tone would move through more flowing sounds, again introducing change and then revisiting some of the earlier explored themes.
I repeatedly watched the performance video she sent me. I felt my work described as sound, and then I tried to illustrate the impression in the music as visual images. To respond to Bethan’s performance, I planned to make a short video with my pieces. Based on visual images from her music, I came up with concrete ideas about the video.
Her performance consists of sections. There is silence between each section. I think the silence is like a negative space between two pieces. She explains the silence; “The silence and the spaces in-between sounds are sometimes the most articulate musical description of all.” That sentence can articulate the small space created by me dividing a vessel form into two forms. Work in a vessel form follows unnecessary controversy over whether it is for a practical or artistic purpose. A small space, newly formed between two pieces, makes it clear that my work is an art object.
Bethan titles her performance ‘A walk through a porcelain garden’. She expresses her first impression of my work in pure, clear, and high-pitched sounds. The sounds remind me of porcelain’s being fired at a high temperature in a kiln. White porcelain, the most demanding clay, endures the highest temperature to get the purist color. I am fond of porcelain’s whiteness because ceramic pieces, made with porcelain, seem precious. Also, whiteness, the keyword, helps me imagine what a porcelain garden looks like. A porcelain garden would be entirely white. Thus, I plan to unify a display space into white tones.
Melodic sounds subtly changing yet repetitive make me feel as if I walk through a foggy forest where I barely see but slowly recognize things close to me. Bethan said about my visual representation; “I am intrigued by the idea of walking through the foggy forest and not quite recognizing the objects for what they are. I love the shock I get when I hear a recording of a violinist and don't realize immediately that it is me. I am given the opportunity to hear what others hear not what my hyper-critical ear perceives.”
Viewers may consider my work as ordinary objects, seeing them from a distance. However, viewers, as coming closer to my work, would discover a negative space within my work. I hope that viewers doubt their fixed perceptions and explore what they see. I describe that process as this phrase; “I slowly recognize the ambiguous forms of things as getting close to them in a foggy forest.” In the video I plan to make, I want to express that impression by repeatedly fading and zooming in and out of my work. With echo sounds, Bethan expresses the image that air comes out from inside through a small space. Impressed by echo sounds, I want to express my impression with the scene that I insult an inner piece into an outer piece and wind flowing in space.
Bethan has found various aspects of my work that I, as an artist, have not recognized, and then she expresses her thoughts about my work with musical languages. I have learned valuable lessons from the collaboration. I thought my work belonging to the craft field would depend on visual languages only. However, visual languages like color, texture, and form can be replaced with musical languages like tone, melody, or pitch. Appreciating my work replaced by sound, I re-examine my work from fresh perspectives. It is through collaboration that individual artists can expand and break away from the realm of their artworks.
Bethan said that “I am fascinated by art and the everyday. As a musician, I am always interested in how people use music in their everyday lives and then don't consider themselves musicians- from singing in the shower, through the rhythmic rocking of an infant to the sheer exuberance of dancing at a wedding. Major life events are all subject to a 'soundtrack '.” This is an impressive sentence. I think why art exists would be to make ordinary and boring life more beautiful and special, an ultimate purpose that I have pursued through my artwork.
Hand Marks Remain
As a Trace Of Our Life.
- Collaboration with poet Dee Montague