Art(ist) Central: Clara Wong

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Vanessa Lee

Managing Editor

When we met Clara over a Zoom call, drills could be heard whirring in background and the very beginnings of Art Central Hong Kong could be seen taking shape. Wong’s upcoming exhibition has only been in development since late last year, and as the goal was to recreate her studio, leaky pipes and all, the project is quite an undertaking for the timeframe.  

Her studio space has been in operation since 2019, and prior to that she counted herself as simply “making art,” but not officially part of the art industry. She has been making art since she was a teen, first by painting and then by using found objects to create multimedia canvasses, sculptural works, and wearable objects. Collaboration and found objects comprises an essential part of her practice, along with a tongue-in-cheek look at what she calls everyday “traumas:” the minute heartbreaks and frustrations present in daily life.  

Check out Clara Wong’s exhibition, titled Yi Tai, from 22-25 March, at Art Central Hong Kong.  

What’s the process been like with the Art Central exhibition?  

We had this idea of having the proposal, late last year, and we got accepted so we hurried to finish a lot of things in a month [laughs].  

Walk me through your exhibition?  

I sort of just brought my studio to the whole section. There will be furniture and there will be artwork. Because, since I’m kind of a home person, and I spend a lot of time indoors working on stuff, the furniture – means something like, you put together. I use a lot of upcycled material, so the whole studio set-up of mine is pretty DIY. And I kind of see [that quality] in my works too, so I thought why don’t I put them together?  

What are the ideas and themes central to this exhibition and your own practice?  

Since my studio is in an industrial area, I [have access to] a lot of raw materials. So this has spurred me to do a lot of crafts, from raw [materials]. That’s why you see hardware parts in my works. For this particular presentation, it’s sort of how I put different minor traumas together. Since this whole set up was developed in the beginning by that existing Macbook idea…  I would say my kind of humour is a little bit dark, so it involves a lot of play with the traumas [laughs]  

Trauma drama.  

Yeah, yeah. trauma drama.  

What kind of mediums do you normally like to use?  

Basically I started with painting on paper, then on canvas, then I thought like, why don’t I make my own frames for the canvas? And then I started playing with the idea of putting objects into the canvas so it becomes an extension of the canvas itself. It’s not just me doing it myself. I’ve invited a lot of artist friends to do it with me. They’re either also doing visual art, or fashion.. It’s just fun to bring people together to join your piece. It’s like jamming [with music.] 

What was one of your favourite projects that you’ve done with friends recently?  

I haven’t done a lot this year, but last year I did the whole visual for a friend’s experimental music album. Basically we took a year to not only develop the visual, but also his music, because he is also shifting a lot [musically.] I made this sculpture and I had the idea of hanging it onto the water from a bridge next to my studio. [The weather] was humid, it was raining a little bit, it was foggy, and that was totally the vibe we needed for that sculpture. Then we took a bunch of photos, I did the post-production, and it’s out as a cassette. That’s something I really like to do. As a teenager, I listened to a bunch of music, and I was always fascinated by the visual build for the music, and that’s how I started to want to create visuals.  

So music is kind of how you got into art?  

Yes. Somehow.  

What’s your thinking process like when you think of a visual for a piece of music?  

In the beginning it was just, I listen to the music, I doodle, that’s how I started. Later I thought of like, getting into touching materials — let me put it in a better way. I listen to it, and I see what I have, which would usually be some sort of raw material, then I sort of just assemble things together. It’s like a real-life doodle.  

I love that. Where’s your studio? 

Fotan. it’s kind of cool because you’ve got mountains surrounding you. it’s so industrial, but at the same time, what you see from the window is the mountains.  

Let’s talk about the creative scene in Hong Kong. To you, what’s the most interesting thing about Hong Kong’s creative scene? 

I’m closer to the music scene. I listen to a lot of music, I’m familiar with some local independent musicians. And then I started to make my own visual art. Last week, I made a scene with my illustrations for a music show. And for the visual art part, I just kept collaborating with friends. They don’t care if you give them anything in return. If you have a funny enough idea, they’re all into having fun with you, and that’s what I enjoy the most.  

Do you think that artists get enough support in Hong Kong? 

As long as artists are given space, they’ll have it figured out.  But it’s so hard here, rent is so expensive in Hong Kong. Since we can’t really change the fact that the rent is so high, maybe we can do more fun things [to create opportunities.] Artists need more opportunities. Maybe having more opportunities will lead to more affordable studio and exhibition spaces. Artists need space, and that will help make art more accessible to the audience too. 

Art(ist) Central: Clara Wong

Vanessa Lee

Managing Editor

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