7 Questions With Hong Kong Ceramicist Yokky Wong

November 23, 2019

7 Questions With Hong Kong Ceramicist Yokky Wong

In a quiet gallery space in Hong Kong's creative artist hub, PMQ, lies FLOWplus Living, the brainchild of the amazingly talented ceramicist Yokky Wong. We sat down with Yokky for a quick chat about ceramics, the challenges of being an artist in Hong Kong, and some of the pieces we were lucky enough to score for the Blue With Envy shop.

Blue With Envy: How long have you been creating ceramics, and what got you interested in this type of art?

Yokky Wong: I started to learn ceramic in 1987 at Master Chan Chung-kong’s studio in Hong Kong. With immense interests in ceramic, I then went to Hong Kong Polytechnic in 1989 and obtained a Higher Certificate in Studio Ceramics in 1991. As I wanted to devote myself in the creation of ceramic works, I quitted my full time job as a graphic designer and setup my own ceramic studio in 1995.

It’s been 32 years since I started ceramic in a hobby class. Without love and passion, it is hard to give up a full time job and stay in a ceramic studio, where it is not a flowery place, but is hot and have loads of physically demanding duties to keep it running. 

BWE: What inspires you to create a new collection?

YW: Curiosity in lives around us… Day Dreaming…. Sit back and relax anytime, anywhere… and I will always find tiny little interesting things that may easily be overlooked by hectic city dwellers. Those are the source of my inspiration and going by feelings and memories, I express them in clay.

Yokky Wong Knitting Knots Ceramic Plate
Image: Yokky Wong's Knitting Knots of Love. Shop the collection

I love my Mom and Dad a lot. I remember they gave me the best they can to raise me up as a happy child…. My first second-hand kiln, was installed in my tiny bedroom. When in-use, my mom had to turn off all electric appliances, including air-con, to make way for the limited electrical supply to the kiln. She then went to neighboring bank to crochet for a few hours to escape the heat from the kiln and gradually made friends with the staff there. I never inspected my mother’s crochet work this closely. In turning her handcraft into tableware, it is as if her legacy in handicraft and cookery has been preserved. The stitches and knots, all woven into a yard of unified knots. A testament to my memories of her love, the precious unspoken words, “I love you”. In the case of Knitting Knots of Love, the blue and white colour and my mother’s crochet pattern are very traditional, you may recall crochets pieces found at the coffee table or piano cover at your grannies home. Combined together, it does have a touch of contemporary twist on the plate design. The plate is first glazed with a layer of blue, then wipe away the excess with a sponge, followed by another layers of transparent glaze. That’s why the plate is smooth, but still with vivid texture.  My childhood memories and life experiences are my inspiration.

BWE: What is the significance of ceramics and pottery in Hong Kong's culture?

YW: Hongkongers are mostly Chinese and “china” also means porcelain ware to lots of people. Our daily use tablewares are traditionally in ceramics with blue and white, celadon glaze. However, more and more young families are looking into tableware designs with handmade feel.

BWE: Your gallery FLOWplus Living is a collaboration with your friends Venus Lee and Heidi Choi. How has that partnership strengthened your own work?

YW: My partners, Venus and Heidi have been taking ceramic classes at my studio for over 15 years. They both have business administration and digital marketing background, so I leave all business related decision and activities to them.  Grateful that my partners, Venus and Heidi take care of all daily administration and never interfere with my creation so I can fully concentrate on the making of clay.

Hong Kong Ceramics FlowPLUS Founders Yokky, Heidi and Venus

Image, from left to right: FlowPLUS Founders Venus Lee, Heidi Choi and Yokky Wong

BWE: Your ceramics are featured in 5 of Hong Kong's most popular Michelin star restaurants and luxury hotels. In your opinion, how does having beautiful tableware add to the quality of a dining experience?

YW: FlowPLUS plates serve as a canvas for chefs’ inspiration to make it a visually attractive dish! Underneath the tasty veggie, seafood, meat… is a plate from us. It’s like a collaboration between the chef and our ceramics to present the dish with passion to the diners.

BWE: What does it mean to be an artist and entrepreneur in Hong Kong? What are some of the challenges you have faced, and how are you able to overcome them?

YW: One of the major challenge is space. In the making of ceramic, we need space in the process, i.e. for storage of materials like clay, glaze, tools; area for natural drying of greenware; area of glazing material and kiln; working tables…. When oversea potters heard of the location of our studio, “on 19/F of an industrial building”, they almost couldn’t believe their ears!

Most studio in Hong Kong are small. Only a handful of material suppliers are available for the supply of basic materials. The limited studio space also make it not possible for us to place direct order oversea as the minimum order quantity will ask for sizable storage space that we don’t have.

Management of SPACE is always a challenge to Hongkongers.

BWE: What are some traditional Hong Kong dishes that you enjoy making and serving to your own friends and family?

YW: None of us are good at cooking! But we do enjoy making our dishes visually attractive to boost our mood and appetite.

Want to own some of Yokky's creations for your home? Check out our collection in the BWE shop.

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