Ceramicist Michelle Lim is the latest addition to The Substation’s Associate Artist Research Programme (AARP). With clay as her preferred medium, her works address ideas that span across areas such as consumerism, community, and identity, leading to projects such as Awaken the Dragon, Singapore’s first ceramics festival. She speaks about her artistic motivations, and her preoccupation with food.
Chelsea Chua: Could you tell us a bit more about why you choose to specialise in ceramics, and what kind of issues you address through your work?
Michelle Lim: As my works have often been about addressing mass consumerism, awareness towards mass production (factory workers) or bringing attention to the individual, clay has been a voice for me as it is a material with a ready ability to multiply and create works en masse and yet be singular because of its process they are never identical. But the greatest allure has to be its magical ability to shape shift from liquid to solid, from 2D to 3D, and even from a state of impermanence to permanent – it is a world with endless possibilities.
CC: Tell us about your AARP project. What are you hoping to investigate though the project, and what inspired it?
ML: I have always worked with the notion of food in my works as I find that it encourages interaction and that it draws out more information from the audience, and thereby drawing out information about the work.
With my time in AARP, I hope to question further of what other roles clay or ceramic take in the form of a serving vessel. Do the vessels contain certain characters because they are perceived to be handmade? And to what extent does our society understand ‘handmade’ oppose to ‘factory’ made. Do the vessels’ perceived characters help lift an environment and its contents? These answers are to be drawn out from the audience through a series of curated meals.
CC: Any future projects you’d like to tell us about?
ML: A project that I am looking forward to is in 2015, as part of the Australian Ceramics Triannale, I will be setting up an interactive dining experience and this installation will be part of my research in AARP. It will be pretty exciting because of the unfamiliar audience.
I am also working on the second installation of Awaken the Dragon, a community project that revolves around the last two dragon kilns and Singapore’s history in ceramics. It is project that I co-founded with Post-Museum, as we felt that it was important for people to know about our early beginnings in this craft – who say Singapore last time no art!